Posted by: yoko | April 18, 2005

Taiko Travel Diary

Saturday, April 16

Wake up around 6:45 am. Get dressed, kiss the sleeping Lipby goodbye. Gather my stuff up to go to my first of two taiko gigs for the day. Oh wait– I need to iron my happi, the top part of my uniform. Drag out the ironing board and iron, quickly run over the cloth to take out the major wrinkles, fold it carefully and put it in my bag with my sticks, music, and other parts of the uniform.

Get to my car around 7:30 am. Drive to South Jersey. Stop at a Wawa to get an energy bar, a banana, a hash brown (I can’t resist hash browns) and a bottle of water. Maneuver driving and eating on the way to the practice place.

Arrive at our practice place around 8:30 am. Briefly discuss the plan for the first gig– two musical numbers, with transitions from setting up from one piece to the next. Move the drums and put them in the van. Split up into two groups to go to two vans to go to the gig, which is about ten minutes away.

At the first gig, around 9:00 am. Unload the drums, mark settings for the drums on the asphalt where we’ll be playing, near the platform stands. Do an abbreviated runthrough– the wind is so cold and brisk that hearing each other is difficult, and our hands cannot grip the sticks. Luckily, one of the members brought some special grip powder that we all use to make our hands sticky enough to hold the wooden bachi. Go inside the community center, get suited up.

10:00 am. One of the state dignitaries that is to attend the town event is late; we have to wait for her to arrive before we can begin playing. We all huddle behind one of our vans to shield ourselves from the wind, tell jokes to pass the time. We begin playing about 20 minutes later than scheduled.

Performance over around 10:45 am, load the drums, return to the practice place to pick up more drums. A lengthy discussion ensues over the best way to drive to the next gig, with the end result that we take several cars and go different ways. Despite the dispersement, we all end up at the same Wawa to pick up sandwiches and hot dogs.

Arrive at the second location around 1 pm. Mark drum settings for each piece. This is a longer program– we are contracted to play for 45 minutes here. By now the day feels much warmer, less windy. As we set up, many passersby come to ask us what we’re doing and when we’re performing. Several families are already sitting on the grass in anticipation.

By 2:30 pm, there is a sizable crowd on the lawn in front of us and behind us. We begin this performance. Halfway through, we ask for interested audience members to come up and try the drums. A wave of kids and their parents come rushing up to the front and form a line. We have them play in groups– everyone seems to have fun hitting the drums.

Last number with encore done around 3:30 pm or so. Load up the vans, head to a local eatery where we talk, eat plates of eggplant parmigiana and pasta. The vans go back to the practice place to unload the drums; I drive home, feeling exhausted but good.

Addie, Ashy, aikido folk, Becky, Lipby, Suze– thanks so much for coming to the performance!



  1. Whenever a friend gets into an interesting new art form, my imagination is immediately ablaze with thoughts of potential synthesis and collaboration. Now I’m dreaming of someday working with you on integrating taiko into a paratheatrical ritual performance.

  2. The drumming was mighty powerful. I could hear it from the roads surrounding the second location as I was walking around it for 45 minutes, looking for the entrance.

    I finally got in just in time for the encore. Everyone in the crowd was delighted by the show. Yoko was so patient with the line of kids.


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