Asano Taiko Golden Week Day of Taiko

I didn't think yesterday was all that strenuous. We didn't have to show up at Asano until noon, we toned down our outfits to black t-shirts and pants and we only had one quick performance (about 5 min) and then we could enjoy the other events going on in the afternoon. But for some reason, I felt so tired when my alarm went off this morning. I don't know why. I'm awake now, though, and ready to go back to work (not ready, actually, but I have no choice).

Yesterday (May 6) was a half-day taiko event at Asano Taiko. They named it the G.W. (Golden Week) Day of Taiko and it was billed as a "Pre-Event" for the upcoming 400th anniversary celebration June 5, 6 and 7. The day featured two short taiko performances by different Asano groups. The first one at the start and the second one to close things up. The Asano Kids classes , Jige san's (Hono Taiko) parent-child group, Kojira, JIGEN (my wife and I are in this group) Sasuke, jr, Sasuke and Hono Taiko all played at least one song. In between the performances there was a basic taiko workshop (pictured above), a "Make Your Own Teeny Tiny Taiko Key chain" workshop, which both my kids did. Here's a picture of that:

Then there was the Odaiko Volume Contest in which about 15 children and 15 adults competed to see who could get the loudest sound out of the "Yamato" Odaiko (6 shaku? about 180 cm diameter) housed in Asano's taiko museum.

Both my son and I entered this contest (my son with "Yamato" in the picture above). Each entrant waited his or her chance for one hit to the drum with a "bat" bachi (a sort of large, heavy, bat shaped stick). No warm ups and no do-overs. The sound was measured with a decibel meter so there would be no question about who had produced the loudest sound. The contest was divided between adults and children and there were around 15 to 20 participants each. My son was part of the children's competition. He was by far the youngest (at nearly 3 years old) and fittingly produced the quietest sound in the group. It was around 83 dB, if I recall correctly. Of course, being his dad, I was proud of him for just getting up in front of so many people and giving it a try. He, on the other hand, probably had no idea what the contest was about and was probably just motivated out of getting a lollipop for trying.

Anyhow, my turn came along. I stepped up on the small platform in front of the drum, which was a little unstable and I didn't really need the extra height. It was also small and too close to the drum for me. I checked behind me to make sure that I would not hit Takebe kun, who was holding the decibel meter, extended my arm and swung it forward. "DON" The sound echoed through the museum and slowly faded away. "123.5 decibels," Takebe kun announced. Not a bad hit, but I knew I could have got in a better one, no that I had my bearings. Unfortunately, one person = one try. Here is the video of my attempt.

It is rather hard to get a feel for the loudness on a YouTube video. Besides that, the video was recorded on my digicam, which probably only has a simple recording mic. As simple as this video is, I actually was able to learn something from watching it. In the past, I have written about the benefits of video taping yourself as you play and this is why. I noticed from this video that annoying habit I have of tilting my head to one side when I play. Do you notice that as I hit the drum, my head tilts to the left? I've been "warned" about this several times from Yamada sensei, my wife and most recently by Kinoshita sensei, but apparently I haven't fixed it yet. Seeing it on video and how "silly" it looks may be just enough to remind me not to do it. At any rate, it didn't seem to effect how loud I played the drum because when all the contestants had finished, I had the top score! I was hoping that the prize for winning was the "Yamato" Odaiko, but everyone laughed when I asked if that was the prize. I got something almost as good, though. I got my very own Asano Taiko towel and a keyaki (zelkova) massage tool.


Joy said...


Joy said...

When we visited Asano last year, we got a chance to play on one of their Odaiko, not that one, but way bigger than anything I have access to back home. I'd heard tales about how hard it is to get a good sound out of a drum so large, so I was really surprised at how easy it was to play.

.... and I thought we had a video clip of me playing Kashmir on it, but I can't find it. Here's a pic of us in front of the Huge one, instead: http://onetaikoadventures.blogspot.com/2008/09/am-i-really-here.html

Raion Taiko said...


Marlene said...

I can't help but notice the huge fallen (?) tree in the first photo! Also, great job on schlaging the Schlagzeug the hardest :)

Raion Taiko said...

Those are keyaki (Zelkova) trees drying out, waiting to be made into taiko drums.