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Humans of Taikokoro

A monthly piece introducing a Taikokoro member

- Irene -

My name is Irene.

In real life I do IT support – not exactly THE most creative outlet in the world.  I also happen to be one of the committee members of Taikokoro, currently holding the position of Vice President.  Although a rather important sounding title, it’s not as terrifying as it sounds – I do a bit of everything, stepping when needed, including managing the website, doing a bit of social media and organising performances.

Growing up, the sum total of my music experience was the recorder, some keyboard lessons and a whole lot of karaoke. Then in 2008 I went on a holiday with a friend to Morocco. We spent a night under the stars in the Sahara with some nomads, who proceeded to pull out some drums and other musical instruments and played for us. It was captivating and I was hooked.

When I got back to Melbourne, I signed up for my first djembe class. About a year and a half later, I also started learning the duns.

In 2010, while I was madly running around absorbing all things drum related, I went to see a phenomenal taiko (Japanese drumming) concert, and decided that I needed to try that as well – so I found Toshi and Rindo. 

After a trip to a Tsumura sensei Miyake workshop in Sydney, I became one of the initial members of Australia Miyake Kai.

10+ years later and I have stopped African drumming and gone 100% taiko!

I very much enjoy the community aspect of drumming and the people I drum with have become almost a second family – you can see my Tuesday class family in the photos indulging my love of costumes, dressed as koalas! 

I enjoy sharing the music with the general public as well, and love playing community gigs ranging from fetes to festivals – anywhere that people can really get involved and enjoy the drumming.

The best memory I have of playing Miyake is getting the chance to play at Chris’s wedding, and then attempting to play the shinobue for Wachi taiko after beer – not so successful!

Hopefully the future will bring more of the same drumming opportunities that I’ve been so lucky to be a part of!

  1. Would you rather have unlimited sushi or unlimited tacos for life and why?
    Unlimited tacos for life.  They have melted cheese.
  1. What is your most embarrassing favourite song?
    Without doubt – Don’t Stop Believing by Journey – and belting it out at karaoke
  1. What is the dumbest way you’ve been injured (taiko or non-taiko related)?
    Doing a walk in high school up and back down Mt Kosciusko, and then tripping over in the car park before getting on the bus back – badly spraining my ankle.

Humans of Taikokoro

A monthly piece introducing a Taikokoro member

- Cecilia -
Cecilia

My name is Cecilia.

I’ve been a Taikokoro Rinjin member ever since it first started – not sure how long that’s been because I’m really bad at remembering stuff like that. Like when I’m asked how long I’ve been playing taiko – I wouldn’t have a clue! But I do remember how I started taking an interest in taiko.

I was first introduced to taiko through a work colleague who’d invited me to a taiko concert. The concert was none other than Eitetsu Hayashi at Sydney Town Hall. My mind was blown! So, I gave it try and never really stopped. I must admit that most of the credit goes to Taikoz and Ian Cleworth for creating a great place for me to learn and enjoy taiko.

There are many reasons why I enjoy taiko. I like taiko because I find taiko challenging and yet intriguing because there are so many different facets to taiko – it kind of pulls you in.  I don’t have a favorite style – I like them all. I continue to play taiko, though, because of the taiko community – I am grateful that I’ve been able to meet and play taiko with many people from across Australia and the globe. I’m thankful to Taikokoro for bringing the taiko community even closer together.

I recall participating in a taiko camp in Japan where I learnt a version of Miyake-style taiko and having to hold a pose for what felt like 2 hours (in reality, it might have been 2 minutes). At night, as the group sat in the rotenburo (females only) nursing our sore muscles and blistered hands, we all agreed that “we work to fund our taiko habits”.

So, what work do I do to help fund my taiko habits? I’m a Business Analyst, helping companies implement systems, policies… anything. But Taiko still infiltrates as I’m caught writing taiko music in my notebook during meetings or tapping taiko rhythms at my desk.

The best memory I have of taiko would be winning the World Taiko Competition in Tokyo as a member of Taiko No Wa. The blood, sweat and tears paid off… literally. To my TNW peeps – thanks for the unforgettable experience.

My fondest memory of Taiko, however, was attending an Art Lee taiko camp, meeting Daihachi Oguchi and other taiko players from around the world, spending Obon at the river watching fireflies; then to Sado for Earth Celebration where we had a private performance of Ondeko in a tent and received a lock of the Oni’s hair. Aah, the sweet memories of Sado in summer! Such is Taiko Life!

  1. Would you rather have sushi or tacos for life?
    Sushi. There’s no elegant way of eating a taco.
  2. What is your most embarrassing favorite song?
    Run, Rabbit, Run – (1939) – They don’t make music like they use to.
  3. What is the dumbest way you’ve been injured?
    Breaking my ankle during Shot-Put trials for the Combined School Competition in High School. Needless to say, I did not make it into the Shot-Put team.

Humans of Taikokoro

A monthly piece introducing a Taikokoro member

- Aki -

My name is Aki. In my real life, I am an Executive Assistant for the Executive Director at a global logistics company. When I am not drumming, I can make myself look serious and hardworking in a corporate world!

I grew up in Tokyo and lived there until I finished my Uni and moved to Melbourne in 1994. As a kid, Japanese traditional music never drew my attention. Rather, my choice was playing the drums in a girls band at high school (thought I was cool but wasn’t ….).

Around 1997, my flatmate then asked me to join Rindo with her, but I wasn’t so sure about it because Taiko seemed out-of-date and daggy, which were proven wrong and I found learning Taiko is so much fun! Luckily, Toshi just started Rindo with not even 20 students, which gave me a lot of performance opportunities at festivals, events and concerts for many years.

My other music experience is Ukulele. I wasn’t very good at it, but Chris, my first audience, could tell at least which song I was playing for him.

Ayako is another key person in my Taiko life. She actually introduced me to the Tsumura family in Tokyo long before Australia Miyake Kai was established. I was shocked at students over there staring at themselves in the mirror to check their postures and movements, some even looked so much in love with themselves!! Never thought I would become one of those in the future.

Sounds a bit exaggerated, but the trip to Hachijo Island in 2015 has marked the beginning of a new era for my taiko life. Initially I was freaked out seeing locals in three generations improvising naturally in a laid-back fashion but it is so addictive! This experience brought me back there twice in 2016 & 2019 to participate in 24hour challenge. Hope I am able to visit them again soon!

It is very hard to choose but one of my best taiko memories is performing with the Tsumura family in 40 degrees at Melbourne Summer Festival in 2014. It was extremely hot and I was also too nervous to play Ura after Kaz sensei, so Chie, a veteran member from Tokyo, poked me in my back so I could get up and go!

1. Would you rather have unlimited sushi or unlimited tacos for life and why?
I definitely choose unlimited Sushi over Tacos because Sushi has more variety than Tacos.

2. What is your most embarrassing favourite song?
My most embarrassing favourite song is Boom Boom (Let’s go back to my room) by Paul Lekakis.

3. What is the dumbest way you’ve been injured?
Slipped in a shower and knocked the soap dish with my kneecap which resulted in slashing my knee about 3cm. I ended up waiting for hours at Royal Melbourne Hospital before getting stitches and returned home at dawn.

Humans of Taikokoro

A monthly piece introducing a Taikokoro member

- Jonathon -

Hi! 

My name is Jonathon. In the grown-up world I’m what’s called a Pre-media specialist, and spend most of my time these days doing Photoshop Image retouching in a large photography studio. Outside of that, my spare time these days pretty much seems to be consumed by family, food, music, and Taiko (as much as I can get!).

I’ve been a member of Taikokoro for a short while now, but feel I’ve been part of the Taikokoro family for a long time already because of the welcoming nature of it’s members. I can also say I will be a member for a long time going forward.

I’m relatively new on the Taiko scene, starting towards the end of 2019 (with a big pandemic gap in there, so no Taiko for a year, ouch!), but Taiko has for a long time been an itch that needed to be scratched, so I took the plunge and have never looked back. I do kick myself sometimes for not doing it when I first discovered Taiko and it’s energy, but get over that feeling quickly because I’m doing it now, and it’s not healthy to dwell on the past. I had been been watching Taiko from afar for a long time, admiring, and being inspired by anyone I had seen live, or on youtube (I’ve watched a lot!), and probably like a lot of people, being able to do something like this seemed a little out of reach, but one day just thought “bugger it, I want to do that, and I want to be that person to inspire others!”, hopefully motivating others to at least give it a try, as there’s no reason why you can’t. Being in the crowd watching people perform just wasn’t enough. I wanted to be the performer. Taiko’s grip was just too strong!

Things change once you take that first step, and you realise there’s no reason to not do it, and from there your Taiko journey begins. I feel it is a large part of my life now, and know that I will never stop learning, and I really look forward to that aspect.

Soon after joining Wadaiko Rindo in Melbourne, I joined Australia Miyake Kai for Miyake style, as it’s power, energy, grace and style just made sense to me (and I couldn’t stop thinking about it!), which in turn led to me joining Taikokoro, and I eagerly look forward to delving into other styles as soon as time permits.

What I love about Taiko is that you can get what you want out of it. It can be as fun as you want it to be, or as much a challenge as you want it to be. Everybody is different and will get different things out of it, but you know that you will all meet in the middle somewhere, and that’s what it’s all about. This I like. Taiko is a challenge for me, and gives me confidence and balance, and it’s confirmation of what I always knew deep down, that Taiko is for me. It has also given me the confidence to do things I thought I’d never do, and things that scared the hell out of me. Performing in front of a crowd being one of those. Now that is all I want to do, and if I can inspire someone else to do it at the same time, even better!

There’s also the energy, the fun, the beats, the rhythm, the people, the passion, the history, the frustration, the lack of sleep (waking up constantly with beats whizzing around your head!), the fitness, the strength, the aches, the pains, the sore muscles, and more… all worth it of course…

…AND, you get to hit big drum with big sticks!

So far my most memorable moment would be performing at the Melbourne Japanese Summer Festival only months after having joined Australia Miyake Kai, for my first ever performance, and I take great pride in the fact that I was asked to be part of it, and very thankful to Sensei for asking me. The fact that I was asked to perform was memorable enough. Because of the current climate, it was a streamed online from Deakin Edge, Fed Square (a spectacular venue to be in in itself), and although being in front of a full tv production crew was a little overwhelming, I found myself keeping quite calm and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It’s something I will never ever forget. The really scary part for me was being stuck in traffic on my way in on the day, thinking I was going to miss it!

 

1. Would you rather have unlimited sushi or unlimited tacos for life and why? 


Sushi, because Sushi.

2. What is your most embarrassing/favourite song?

I wouldn’t say embarrassing, but because I do like my music to be a little on the raw side (i do like my metal), Owaranai Sekai De by DAOKO is my pick. This song goes against my usual listening habits, but I come back to it often and very rarely do I give it just one listen. It feels a little from anther time, but it’s instrumental progressions and melodies are a bit of a songwriting masterclass, and it gets me every time!

3. What is the dumbest way you’ve been injured (taiko or non-taiko related)?

Maybe not so the dumbest, but probably more unlucky is my shoulder injury. I always had “loose” shoulders and had popped my right shoulder out quite a few times but always managed to get it back in. One day when lifting a box above my head I sneezed and my shoulder dislocated, but for good this time, and I had to be rushed to the doctor. That was pain. A shoulder reconstruction and four months of rehab followed. I never really gained confidence in that shoulder, and it hindered me somewhat in doing a lot of things. Yoga sorted me out, and then Taiko, which has allowed me to have full confidence in it. I feel I can strike a taiko with the best of them now! A liberating experience, which I thought would never happen! Yay!

Taikokoro Inc presents

Eri's Monthly Katsugi Journey

Every 4th Thursday of the month
May to November 2021
A series of TaikoIN' online sessions presented by Eri Uchida
Eri's Monthly Katsugi Journey Banner

These monthly practices continue on from the original “Eri’s Katsugi Journey Workshop” held in April 2021.

https://taikokoro.org/2021/04/05/eris-katsugi-journey/

Please purchase the video from these original sessions to review before signing up to the monthly practices.

Ready to do it?  Click the button below and fill out the registration form!

Session Description

Run over monthly sessions these will cover

  • Body Awareness
  • Finding the good balance with your Okedo -becoming one with Okedo-
  • Strokes for right and left hands and hitting both sides
  • How to use your whole body to play to make a groove
  • How to make a small groovy sound
  • Foundations of playing both sides
  • Check individually
  • Q&A
  • Advice for how to adapt into your own or group’s piece
  •  

Dates

Every 4th Thursday of the month from May to November

  • 27 May
  • 24 June
  • 22 July
  • 26 August
  • 23 September
  • 28 October
  • 25 November

Time: 19:15-21:15 AEST (18:15-20:15 JST) 

Fees:  (7 Sessions Live stream or video)

  • Taikokoro Member A$90 (Ichiban, Niban, Rinjin & Gakkusei) 
  • Non-Member A$115

Things to prepare:

  • Pillow
  • Chair
  • Bachi
  • Balance ball
  • Katsugi okedo or fake one
  • Tennis ball

Note: these monthly practices continue on from the original “Eri’s Katsugi Journey Workshop” held in April 2021.

Please purchase these videos to catch up if did not attend this workshop series.

Cost for catchup videos (cost below is for both sessions):

  • Taikokoro Members: A$30
  • Non Members: A$36

Register here!

*Please note that the workshop will be recorded and photographed and parts may be used in our socials  for promotion purposes. If you do not want to be seen, please let us know and we will edit your face out of the recorded footage. 

About Eri Uchida

Originally from Aichi Prefecture, Japan, Eri Uchida was deeply touched by her local taiko community where she grew up – so much so that while studying abroad in Canada during high school, she founded her own taiko group. To further her studies, Eri moved to Sado Island to join the KODO Apprenticeship Program in 2007 and became a performing member for KODO in 2009. Since then, she has traveled all over the world performing with the troupe, directing school presentations, as well as teaching workshops. Eri also produced KODO’s first overseas interactive concert. In addition, Eri oversaw the day-to-day workings of the KODO Apprenticeship Program, helping to train and welcome new KODO member prospects. 

 
In 2018, she organized “Roots of KODO,” a program where taiko players from outside of Japan got to fully immerse and experience the KODO apprenticeship conditions on a deeper level and experience the community and the rich culture of Sado Island.  She left KODO in May 2019 in pursuit of sharing the skills and philosophies she had gained through taiko with hopes of expanding the limitless possibilities of taiko and its community. After sharing ideas about her taiko philosophy and approaches to workshops with Sydney Shiroyama, they created the concept of TaikoIN’. (https://www.taiko-in.com/). Through TaikoIN’, Eri plans to share the skills and philosophies she has learned from her taiko career with hopes of expanding the possibilities of taiko and its community.
 

Taikokoro Inc presents

Eri's Katsugi Journey

Mon 19th April and Thu 22nd April 2021
A TaikoIN' online workshop series presented by Eri Uchida
Eri Katsugi Title

Katsugi Okedo allows for the expression of a variety of free styles. However, it’s very important to grasp the basics first, in order to broaden your expression.  

What are the Okedo BASICS?

I believe that the basics establish the foundation for your expression. Okedo is not easy to teach and can feel a little difficult to learn at the beginning since it doesn't have a form. What’s important is not your taiko experience, it is your mind and humbleness. You need to know your body, or at least be curious about learning how to use your body naturally. Once you discover what is natural for you, then you have ‘your’ basics. By knowing yourself you can expand your Okedo expression, listen to others and incorporate their influences.

The purpose of this workshop is to explore this unique connection with the okedo and the various strokes and establish effective okedo fundamentals through body awareness. We will also try some drills and ideas to practice how to use your whole body to make a groove, and introducing natural body movements and striking techniques to hit both sides.

The basics are very important at any level and become the inspiration to deepen your expression.

The benefit of this 2 session online workshop is that we can really focus on our body instead of hitting Taiko right away which is actually quite important to be able to get better.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all!

Eri Uchida

Ready to do it?  Click the button below and fill out the registration form!

Workshop Descriptions

Run over two sessions this workshop will cover:

  • Body Awareness
  • Finding the good balance with your Okedo -becoming one with Okedo-
  • Strokes for right and left hands and hitting both sides
  • How to use your whole body to play to make a groove
  • How to make a small groovy sound
  • Foundations of playing both sides

Taiko Experience:  All levels

Physical Intensity: Light to moderate

Note: There is no taiko playing required during the workshop

When?

The workshops will be conducted in English by ZOOM.
 
Dates: Monday April 19 and Thursday April 22 2021
Time: 20:00-22:00 AEST
           19:00-21:00 JST
*Please check your local time
 
Note: Thursday’s workshop progresses on from Monday
 
These workshops will be recorded and the video made available for 4 weeks after the event.  If you are unable to make the above dates/times in person, you can sign up and receive the video only!

What do I need?

  • A device to connect to Zoom (link provided to participants 1 day before each session)
  • Pillow, chair, bachi, balance ball (if possible), katsugi okedo (or something katsugi okedo-like!)
  • Comfortable clothes that you can move and stretch in.
  • Space to move
  • Water (stay hydrated)
  • Optional pen and paper if you’d like to take notes!

Workshop Fee 

Per session, per person

Taikokoro Member A$15
(Ichiban, Niban, Rinjin & Gakkusei) 

Non-Member A$18

Not a member, and want to be?  View the benefits and sign up here

Register here!

*Please note that the workshop will be recorded and photographed and parts may be used in our socials  for promotion purposes. If you do not want to be seen, please let us know and we will edit your face out of the recorded footage. 

About Eri Uchida

Originally from Aichi Prefecture, Japan, Eri Uchida was deeply touched by her local taiko community where she grew up – so much so that while studying abroad in Canada during high school, she founded her own taiko group. To further her studies, Eri moved to Sado Island to join the KODO Apprenticeship Program in 2007 and became a performing member for KODO in 2009. Since then, she has traveled all over the world performing with the troupe, directing school presentations, as well as teaching workshops. Eri also produced KODO’s first overseas interactive concert. In addition, Eri oversaw the day-to-day workings of the KODO Apprenticeship Program, helping to train and welcome new KODO member prospects. 

 
In 2018, she organized “Roots of KODO,” a program where taiko players from outside of Japan got to fully immerse and experience the KODO apprenticeship conditions on a deeper level and experience the community and the rich culture of Sado Island.  She left KODO in May 2019 in pursuit of sharing the skills and philosophies she had gained through taiko with hopes of expanding the limitless possibilities of taiko and its community. After sharing ideas about her taiko philosophy and approaches to workshops with Sydney Shiroyama, they created the concept of TaikoIN’. (https://www.taiko-in.com/). Through TaikoIN’, Eri plans to share the skills and philosophies she has learned from her taiko career with hopes of expanding the possibilities of taiko and its community.