Taiko – What is it?

Contrary to popular belief Taiko doesn’t specifically refer to drums, but rather a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments. These large drums can take up to a massive seven years to prepare! The Taiko drums have a mythological  origin in Japanese folklore, and like most ancient traditions, the taiko drum is believed to have come from China in the 6th century CE.


I first encountered Taiko drumming during the Hyper Japan Festival 2012 in London. It wasn’t the traditional Taiko experience, but instead it was Namco’s Taiko No TatsuJin (太鼓の達人) video game for the Playstation 2.Nihontastic

You’ll be surprised how quickly it becomes competitive which makes it much fun! iPhone users can get Taiko No Tastujin for free on iTunes / App Store here (though you might need to change to the Japan store).

Taiko No Tatsujin which means ‘Taiko Master’ in English

Taiko performances can be seen during most festivals in Japanese and can often been seen in shinto shrines. I was lucky to hear a very large taiko drum when I was at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, I believe it was played for a wedding ritual.

Large Taiko Drum being played in Meiji Shrine, during a Shinto wedding procession.
Large Taiko Drum being played in Meiji Shrine, during a Shinto wedding procession in Tokyo.

Joji Hirota a world renowned Taiko percussionist (read more about him here) recently performed in my home town, Leeds UK.nihontastic

Taiko performers nihontastic

Check out my video below of him performing live on stage with two other Taiko percussionists.


If you’re in England and you’d like to see live Taiko performances performed by Japanese percussionists then the 11th UK Taiko festival is a must go event! check out the festival’s official website here for more information.


Twitter: @Nihontastic

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