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Portland Taiko performer Derek Ogi

Derek Ogi

I grew up seeing taiko at obon and community events, but didn’t start playing until middle school when my cousin and some friends invited me to join the Kona Daifukuji youth group. I continued to practice and perform throughout high school and transitioned to performing with USC Kazan Taiko during college. When COVID hit, I went on a 2-year taiko hiatus but found my way to Portland Taiko in 2022 through a Kazan Taiko connection.

I play taiko to express myself artistically and challenge myself physically, but my favorite thing about playing taiko is how it pushes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to grow as a person and performer. During my time away from taiko during COVID, I developed some anxiety about performing, but during my first concert with Portland Taiko in Wilsonville, I saw the friendly faces of the crowd and instantly felt reassured. I knew no matter what happened, the performance would be a lot of fun.