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Shibuki Taiko brings Japanese tradition to Brockport

by Brianna Bush - Lifestyles
Tue, Feb 5th 2019 04:00 pm

On Friday, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tower Fine Arts will be presenting a performance by the Shibuki Taiko Japanese Drum Group. 

The group originates from Buffalo, New York and was formed in 2016 from members of the Japanese Group of Buffalo. When the group first came to be it was without the traditional taiko drums.

“We had no real taiko drums and had to create our own practice taiko drums using spare tires wrapped with clear packing tape,” Social Media Manager for Shibuki Taiko Jennifer Leising wrote in an email. “The sound produced by hitting these tires is similar to real taiko.”

The drums they used did not create the same vibrant tones as the traditional ones. Traditional drums are hollowed out tree trunks that are covered with stretched cowhide skin. Leising said that over the past two years through hard volunteer work and fundraising, the group was able to raise enough money to acquire six traditional drums.

The groups drum sticks or “bachi” are handmade by each member, as well as the decorative headbands known as “hachi maki.” The group also designs and produces the taiko stands that the drums sit atop.

“It is a labor of love and enthusiasm for the art of taiko and the reward far outweighs the the work for us,” Leising wrote.

Leising has been with the group since February 2018, alongside her mother and sister. Today, the group is 15 members strong with ages ranging from adults in their twenties to those in their seventies. Each member rehearses rigorously, practicing for hours from their own homes in preparation for each performances.

The group performs in many festivals in the Buffalo area including shows such as the Cherry Blossom Festival, Japan Culture Day and Buffalo’s very own Music is Art Festival. Leising says the group performs in hopes of bringing the taiko drumming to more communities and celebrate Japanese culture in the United States.

Taiko originated in the 5th or 6th century in Japan. The drums were reserved for military battles and for sacred use in Buddhist and Shinto ceremony. It became more popular during the Shōwa period and was made famous by jazz drummer Daihachi Oguchi.

The word “taiko” directly translates to drums in japanese, according to web.stanford.edu. It also refers to the art of Japanese drumming, which is referred to as kumi-daik. Kumi-daiko performance as an ensemble, originated post-war in 1951. 

According to taiko.com, the first North American Taiko group, the San Francisco Taiko dojo, was established in 1968 by Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka. San Francisco Taiko Dojo style was a mixture of different styles that included Oedo Sukeroku, Osuwa Daiko and Gojinjyo-daiko styles. 

The North American style also is attributed to developing the art of drum-building using wine barrels rather than carving the drums from a single log. The wine barrel-drums are cheaper and easier to build. Taiko has become increasingly accessible to more groups outside of Japan and assisted in the widespread growth of taiko throughout the world.

Shibuki Taiko will be bringing its own version of the taiko to The College at Brockport Main Stage. For more information about Shibuki Taiko Japanese Drum group, contact them on Facebook at JGB Shibuki Japanese Drum Group.

Tickets for the show can be purchased online at brockportarts.universitytickets.com or purchased at Tower Fine Arts Box Office. Ticket prices are $17 for General, $12 for Senior Citizens and $9 for Brockport alumni, faculty, staff and students.


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