Taiko - Japanese Drum, is total experience of powerful sound, hypnotic rhythm, graceful and vigorous choreography, intense energy, sensitivity, and above all, SPIRIT, an experience that penetrates the depths of one’s being.
The origins of taiko are not documented but probably were rooted in religious rituals and folk drumming. In Japan of old, the taiko were beaten by farmers in planting rituals to drive away pests harmful to crops and to call forth the rain spirits by imitating the sound of thunder. At harvest time, the taiko were joyously played in celebration and thanks for bountiful crops. In times of war, the taiko were beaten to inspire the troops and intimidate the enemy.
It is only within the last few decades that taiko emerged as a performing art in Japan with some performing groups attaining a very high level of sophistication and worldwide audience.
Taiko in America was brought over by first generation Japanese Americans and were used mainly for religious festivals and ceremonies in the communities. Taiko as a serious performing art with contemporary influences was introduced in this country by Seiichi Tanaka, founder of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, and has flourished throughout North America. Although the basis of American taiko is rooted in the Japanese tradition, each group has developed its unique style according to its musical preferences, having a multitude of cultural influences to draw upon.
Shasta Taiko is particularly unique because of the diverse background of Shasta Taiko leaders, Russel Baba and Jeanne Mercer; its emphasis on the development of individual and group improvisation as well as the traditional approach to taiko; the inspiration drawn from the awesome natural beauty of the Mt. Shasta area; and its inclusion of jazz and world music influences, all merging to create an original taiko experience.