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Mission and History

Through innovation and excellence in taiko, Portland Taiko affirms Asian American pride, inspires audiences, builds community, and educates about our heritage and culture.

Portland Taiko blends the tradition of Japanese taiko drumming with a sense of Asian American identity, creativity, and empowerment. Formed in 1994 by Ann Ishimaru, Zachary Semke, and Japanese American community activists, Portland Taiko started with one homemade taiko and practice drums made from car tires. With community support, the group built and purchased new drums, presented its first full-length concert in 1997, and became a non-profit organization and toured North America in the early 2000s.

The group has headlined at arts festivals and concert halls, released three CDs, and has performed at hundreds of community events and school assemblies. Portland Taiko has commissioned and collaborated with numerous artists, including Hanayui, Shohei Kikuchi, Seiichi Tanaka, Kenny Endo, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Subashini Ganesan, Obo Addy, Sivagami Vanka, Carla Mann, Mike Barber, and Minh Tran.

Portland Taiko performs throughout the Pacific Northwest, offers classes and workshops, and conducts team-building workshops for businesses and community groups. Portland Taiko is eager to share its artistry and educational programs throughout the greater Portland community and the country. To date, Portland Taiko has reached over 1 million audience members at over 1500 performances at theaters, schools, community events, and festivals.