Portland Taiko beta-tested its new online Taiko 101 workshop and we’re thrilled to share it with you! The next TAIKO 101 WORKSHOP is scheduled for Wednesday, September 30 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. It will be led by three Portland Taiko drummers using a variety of live/virtual activities and prerecorded videos. And don’t worry–you don’t need a big taiko drum at home to take this online workshop. You can set up a pillow or cushion on a folding chair and use drumsticks or two grocery-bags. Watch the video here, starting at 1:40.
For those of you who have already taken our Taiko 101 workshop or have some experience with taiko, we are happy to announce our fall classes beginning on Wednesday, October 7. The beginning-level class, POWER TAIKO: HA! will focus on strength and precision while learning one of Portland Taiko’s signature pieces. For our advanced students, the next BEYOND BASICS class will explore different ji-patterns, ambidextrous drills, and Portland Taiko pieces HA, Amaterasu, and Handa na Kayo. We hope to be drumming with you soon!!!
In conjunction with Portland JACL, Japanese American Museum of Oregon, and other organizations, Portland Taiko sends condolences to George Floyd’s family. We are saddened and outraged, yet we are not surprised. We recognize that the murder of Black and Brown people at the hands of police is part of an ongoing pattern that plagues our country and our city. While we mourn Mr. Floyd, we must also remember Keaton Otis, Quanice Hayes, Aaron Campbell, and Patrick Kimmons who are among the more than 14 African Americans killed by police in Portland since 1996.
We are in solidarity with the Portland protesters as they stand in opposition to police violence that disproportionately affects Black and Brown people. We demand justice for Black lives. At the same time, we know that we must grapple with the anti-Blackness that exists within our own community, our families, and ourselves. We commit to using our position as community leaders to engage our people in conversation and the necessary work of confronting ways in which we have benefited from the “model minority” myth and contribute to the perpetuation of anti-Black racism.
We know that this is a challenging time right now and that recent events are weighing heavy on peoples’ hearts and minds. We also know that neither sadness nor silence will bring about the change we so desire. We call on our community to take action to elevate Black voices seeking justice in this country. Will you join us?Take action today:
- Donate to a local Black-led fund or organizations:
- Black Resilience Fund: Provides direct support to Black Portlanders so they have an opportunity for some healing in the wake of a painful month. https://gf.me/u/x59zzr
- Don’t Shoot PDX: Advocates for marginalized communities through social justice art and free legal resources. dontshootpdx.org
- Portland African American Leadership Forum: Helps the Black community imagine the alternatives the community deserves and build the civic participation and leadership to achieve those alternatives. paalf.org
- Urban League of Portland: One of Oregon’s oldest civil rights and social service organizations, empowering African-Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life. ulpdx.org/
- Demand justice for:
- George Floyd- Text FLOYD to 55156 to sign the petition
- Breonna Taylor- Sign the petition
- Ahmaud Arbery- Text JUSTICE to 55156 to sign the petition
While most people associate taiko with big drums and big ensembles, there are ways to practice taiko at home, even with neighbors close by! These video tutorials can get you started with a home taiko set-up. Meredith created a video on making a practice taiko out of a trash can, Wynn videotaped himself making a tire taiko and bachi (drum sticks), and Matthew built a Two By Taiko.
For a medium amount of sound, we recommend Gomi, Tire, or “Two By” taiko with bachi. For the smallest amount of sound, we recommend grocery bag bachi (yes, they really work!) on pillows. We hope to drum with you in the future, but for now, these videos can get you drumming at home!
Our beloved friend Valerie Otani passed away last week from cancer.
Valerie co-founded Portland Taiko, performed for 25 years, and was the President and Co-President of our Board of Directors. She created profound art pieces like the Torii Gates at the Portland Expo Center, mentored countless artists through her role as the Public Art Program Supervisor for the City of Hillsboro, and was instrumental in the development of the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, Mochitsuki, Oya No Kai, and the PPS Japanese Immersion Program.
Valerie was an astonishingly beautiful soul and she taught us all, in her gentle way, to be better performers, artists, teachers, parents, partners, citizens, and people of the world. We are truly grateful to have shared so much time with her, but, we wish we had more. We miss her beyond words.
We are in communication with the Otani/Spielman families and they would like to express their thanks to family and friends for the outpouring of love. A service will be planned in the coming months and we will post further information. While flowers are not necessary, the families welcome cards to Rick Spielman (2917 SW Hume Court; Portland, OR 97219) and Kenji and Raf Spielman (736 NE Going Street; Portland, OR 97211). The family also welcomes donations to organizations close to Valerie’s heart—Portland Taiko, the Fair Housing Council, and the Japanese American Museum of Oregon (formerly Oregon Nikkei Endowment and Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center).
Wow! Thank you so much for the show of support! We had an amazing time sharing the stage with Kenny Endo, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Ann Ishimaru, Zack Semke, Naoko Amemiya, Rachel Ebora, Teresa Enrico, Kristy Oshiro, Amelia Lukas, and Shivy Vanka’s Kalabharathi School of Dance! Thank you for celebrating our 25th anniversary with us and for helping us sell out both concerts!!!
Over 500 taiko drummers from across North America, Hawaii, Japan, and beyond congregated in Portland, Oregon for a weekend of workshops, discussions, and performances at the 2019 North American Taiko Conference. The local groups (Taiko Community of Portland) moved over 300 drums, 300 stands, and 100 pieces of additional equipment. We volunteered for equipment, logistics, opening reception, Taiko Ten program, Taiko Jam concerts, hospitality, fundraising, and marketing.
After the conference, Portland Taiko lent its drums to the Women and Taiko program, so we took the night off and celebrated! Thanks to all of you who supported the North American Taiko Conference with your donations and volunteer work! Otsukaresame deshita!!!
Founded in 1994, Portland Taiko blends the tradition of Japanese taiko drumming with a sense of Asian American identity, creativity, and empowerment. MAKING WAVES traces Portland Taiko’s 25 years of drumming and community engagement through concert footage, music, video interviews, costumes, posters, programs, and special items. Thanks to the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center for partnering with us and hosting the exhibit! See their website for museum hours.
Thank you all for celebrating Portland Taiko’s 25th anniversary at our Benefit Banquet! It was especially meaningful having PT’s co-founders ANN ISHIMARU and ZACHARY SEMKE in attendance. We also took the opportunity to recognize MICHAEL HALE for his 14 years of volunteering and VALERIE OTANI for her 25 years of drumming and guiding the organization with her wisdom, kindness, and compassion. Thanks to your generosity, we exceeded our fundraising goals and are thrilled to move forward with all of our initiatives for 2020!!!
THANK YOU for coming to our fall concert, STICKS AND STRINGS at Lincoln Performance Hall. It was a thrilling evening with inspiring performances from Fear No Music, en Taiko, and Kenji Bunch. We’ll share photos soon and thank you again for your support!
Online ticket sales have ended, but we still have tickets available at the door! We’ll start selling tickets at Lincoln Hall at 6:00 p.m. and we hope to see you there!!!
PORTLAND TAIKO debuted its Portland Festival Yatai at the Rose Festival Starlight Parade this past weekend! The evening was beautiful, joyful, peaceful, and filled with light. Thanks for sharing the experience with us! Check out the television coverage here!
Photos: Mark Graves, Oregonian
Join Portland Taiko as we unveil our PORTLAND FESTIVAL YATAI at the Rose Festival Starlight Parade on Saturday, June 3, 8:30 p.m. We’ll have 26 parade participants, with performers on and off the cart, volunteer pushers, and others joining in the merriment as we walk through the streets of downtown Portland! We hope to see you there!
SOLD OUT!!! We’re looking forward to seeing you at the 2017 Benefit Banquet, featuring a hosted NW wine and beer reception followed by a delicious, eight-course, vegetarian-friendly Cantonese dinner. We have an exciting program of taiko performances, mystery origami leis, live auction and paddle raise, honored guests, and special surprises!
Thursday, May 11 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant (8733 SE Division Street)
Portland Taiko is proud to announce a Youth Scholarship Program for its upcoming spring class session. Two scholarships will be awarded to students aged 8-18, covering all registration costs for the spring class (Beginning or Intermediate) running from April 26 to June 7, 2017. Previous taiko experience is recommended but not required. To apply, please write a short essay (350 to 500 words) that includes the following information:
- Introduction (name, parent/guardian’s name, contact information, age, grade level, school),
- Hobbies and activities (music, dance, sports, martial arts, etc.), and
- Explain why you would like to play taiko with us.
Please email your essay as a Word or text file (doc, docx, rtf, or pdf) to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 2017. Thank you in advance for your submission!
It was a busy and significant weekend for Portland Taiko, marking the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. Some of us performed in Eugene at the Asian Celebration and some of us participated in the #NeverAgain vigil at the Japanese American Historical Plaza in Portland.
Pictures from Eugene (credit: Craig Barnhill) and KGW footage from Portland here.
Portland Taiko was honored to perform before the KODO concert on Wednesday, February 1 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Thanks to the Oregon Symphony, KODO, and to all of you for supporting taiko in Portland! As expected, the KODO concert was breathtaking!
Thanks to Lisa Tamura for the photos!
We’re excited to be co-sponsoring and performing at Mochitsuki on Sunday 1/29, the annual Japanese American New Year celebration in Portland! We’ll be sharing the stage with a fantastic lineup of performers including Oregon Koto Kai, Takohachi, Utsukikai, Sahomi Tachibana Dancers, storytellers Alton Takiyama-Chung and Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo, kendama champion Wyatt Bray, and the Slants!
Watch for Portland Taiko and Utsukikai on KATU, Thursday morning 1/26, as we spread the word about Mochitsuki!
This event is made possible by volunteers and we could still use your help. If you’d like to be a part of our generous volunteer community, please consider helping and you’ll receive free general admission: http://mochipdx.org/event-details/volunteer/
In 2016, Portland Taiko moved its operations to the Oregon Buddhist Temple, designed new t-shirts, designed new costumes, designed a new website, commissioned drawings for the Portland Festival Yatai, recruited two trainees and three new performing members, recruited one new Board member, welcomed back three former members, reestablished the PT Benefit Banquet, offered taiko classes and workshops, collaborated with Multnomah County libraries, presented workshop-performances at elementary schools, and performed at Washington Park, Oregon Symphony Waterfront Concert, Hoyt Arboretum, Methow Arts Center, Laika, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Convention Center, Gerding Theater, the Davis Cup, and for Mochitsuki, Oya No Kai, Oregon Nikkei Endowment, Oregon Buddhist Temple, Asian Celebration, and other local organizations and events!
As 2016 comes to a close, we ask that you consider a donation to help us drive our key 2017 initiatives:
- Kodo at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall: intimate pre-concert performance by Portland Taiko (February)
- Seattle mini tour: performances at the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts and the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival (April)
- New collaborations: Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland Children’s Museum, Young Musicians & Artists, Grace Art Camp, Anjali Dance, Northwest Children’s Theater, and OMSI (May–August)
- Portland Festival Yatai: the design and construction of a Japanese festival cart to represent PT in the Rose Festival Starlight Parade (June)
- Taiko Together: a special concert featuring the four taiko groups in Portland: Portland Taiko, Takohachi, en Taiko, and Unit Souzou (September)
- New assembly programs: development of new programs and repertoire for schools and workshops
- Operations: expenses related to classes, workshops, and rehearsals (staffing, rent, utilities)
Your generosity will help PT meet these exciting objectives with full force at the top of the New Year. Please donate online or by check to Portland Taiko; 3728 SE 34th Avenue; Portland, OR 97202. Thank you for your kind support and here’s to an amazing 2017!!!
Chad Williams (Board President) and Wynn Kiyama (Executive Director)
Thanks for making our Sound in Motion concert a big success! TaikoProject put on an amazing show and collaborated with Portland Taiko on PT’s “TaikoKinesis” and TP’s “Here We Go Now!!” We had a great audience and an incredible group of volunteers helping with the show. Here are just a few photos, shot by Brian Sweeney, from the concert!
Our big fall concert with TaikoProject is this Sunday! We’ve been hard at work refining our pieces and planning out the logistics – like how to get the huge Shoji Odaiko out of its storage and to Catlin Gabel’s theater. Portland Taiko will be playing the first half of the show, and TaikoProject will play the second half. One of the especially fun parts of preparing for this concert is that PT will be joining TP for their last song, so we’ve been learning by video, and will put it all together on Saturday night.
At our show at Washington Park over the summer, we were able to bring back an old community-based composition, A Place Called Home. We’re presenting that piece again in this concert (again with the help of PT founder June Schumann!), and we’ve made a few changes to enhance how the story of the piece is told. For me as a long-time member of Portland Taiko, this piece represents one of the truly special things about PT – a piece composed by the group, based on interviews with community members, with real meaning behind it.
Please come out and see us on Sunday!
We’ve updated the look and content of our site – take a look around! You can always find the latest news here on the front page – to see old posts, look under the “About” menu for the archives. You’ll see our upcoming public performances on the front page, too.
On August 7, we had a successful full-length concert at Washington Park, as part of Portland Parks & Recreation’s Summer Festival series. Highlights included a collaboration with Portland Lee’s Association Lion Dance team, the return of Rachel Ebora as a performer, and bringing back some old favorite pieces we haven’t played in a while, such as To Fly (composed by Ann Ishimaru for fue, violin, and taiko), Forest Festival (part of Kenny Endo’s piece Wind, Water, Wood), Kaza Guruma (composed by Ringtaro Tateishi for Portland Taiko), and A Place Called Home, one of our community-based compositions from 2001.
We look forward to seeing you at our fall concert on October 16, where we’ll host internationally-acclaimed group TaikoProject!