Author: Wynn Kiyama

In Solidarity with Black Lives

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:
  • 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

Taiko at Home

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!

How to Make a Gomi Taiko

How to Make a Tire Taiko

How to Make a “Two By” Taiko

How to Make Bachi from a Dowel

How to Make Bachi from Household Items

Nick Kettman

I began with Portland Taiko as a student in 2016. Although I’ve been playing various forms of percussion since the age of 11, I never had the opportunity to get behind a taiko drum until that first class. I knew immediately it was something that would become a regular part of my life. I joined Portland Taiko as a trainee in 2019. I love that taiko is capable of expressing such a wide range of emotions, from earth-shaking power to quiet introspection. I especially enjoy playing with others—even with such diverse backgrounds, we can all share a common language through music. My full-time profession is electronics engineer, and I also work as an amateur artist producing costume masks and prop replicas.

Toa Suruki

Before taking classes with Portland Taiko, I always took taiko for granted. I was definitely a person who always thought taiko was just a supporting role for all the Nikkei festivals and was never the main attractions at events. When I moved up to Portland from Los Angeles in 2014, I realized I had to make an effort to connect to my roots so I signed up for Portland Taiko classes in 2015. I was immediately hooked from my first class and it definitely redefined my thoughts about taiko. Looking back at my first classes with Portland Taiko, I was very lucky that my cohort consisted only four people…including the instructor ( Paul! ). I say “lucky” because all three of were able to get SO MUCH attention from the instructor and really work on our basics; which of course helped me in the long run. I play taiko today to keep me connected to my roots and to keep challenging my body and mind.

Karen Chu

I was first exposed to taiko my first year at UCLA and was immediately drawn to the rhythms I heard on campus during a performance. I began taking classes at San Francisco Taiko Dojo during my summer and winter breaks throughout college since then. I took a break when I went to graduate school and after 6 years, I am excited that I discovered Portland Taiko upon recently moving here and to be able to play again. Hitting and dancing around taiko drums reminds me of the ecstatic feeling I get from playing taiko. My first taiko performance was at the 2019 Portland Taiko Bonenkai. As a trainee, I am really looking forward to endless learning and improvement as well as getting to know the community better! I am a civil and environmental engineer by day and during my spare time, you can find me outdoors, at the climbing gym, or planning for my next backpacking adventure.

Mike Sweeney

When I worked with Obo and Susan Addy to bring their performance aesthetic into my classroom, I attended the remarkable collaboration with Portland Taiko. That ecstatic celebration of the worlds of percussion living in Portland made a deep impression. In addition, Portland Taiko became family as Kelsey Furuta joined Portland Taiko AND married my nephew Brian Sweeney! And Portland Taiko represents the connections of Japanese and other Asian connections deeply entwined in my identity as a “Portlander.” When asked to join the Board, I accepted, realizing that there is so much to learn, so many new peoples’ stories to heard and that the performance culture of Portland Taiko does indeed celebrate and create this city’s identity.

Fishtrap and the NEA Big Read
Thursday, March 19 at 7:00 pm
OK Theatre
2018 W. Main Street
Enterprise, OR 97828
Cancelled due to the covid-19 corona virus. We are working with the Fishtrap Writer’s Workshop to reschedule this wonderful program and hope to be in Enterprise sometime soon!

Valerie Otani

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).

Asian Celebration
Sunday, February 16 at 1:40 pm
Lane County Fairgrounds
796 W 13th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97402
Celebrate the Year of the Rat with tons of performances, food, a huge marketplace, and hands-on activities! Portland Taiko performs on Sunday at 1:40 pm!

Tiffany Tamaribuchi Odaiko Workshop

Happy New Year! We’re starting 2020 by hosting a private workshop, lessons, and a public odaiko workshop with visiting artist TIFFANY TAMARIBUCHI. The public odaiko workshop is on Monday, February 3 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm and is suited for anyone wishing to hone their odaiko skills, from beginners and intermediate students to more advanced performers. Tickets are SOLD OUT but join the wait list HERE.

An internationally recognized taiko master, Tiffany Tamaribuchi has forged a powerful voice with her deep musical training, multicultural heritage, and female perspective. She is the founder and artistic director of three active taiko groups and has performed throughout North America, Europe, and Japan.

Tamaribuchi trained with the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, performed with Za Ondekoza in the 1990s, and studied in Okinawa with Zampa Ufujishi Taiko and the Mafueakaji Eisa Group. In 2002, she won the OTA-I-KO Hibike Zenkoku Ippon-uchi (All-Japan Odaiko Competition) and was a finalist in the first Tokyo International Odaiko Competition. She currently directs the Sacramento Taiko Dan, Tozai Wadaiko, and JO-Daiko.

 

 

Mochitsuki 2020
Sunday, January 26 at 2:00 p.m.
PSU Viking Pavilion, Peter Stott Center
930 SW Hall Street
Portland, OR 97207
Celebrate the Year of the Rat with food, demonstrations, stage performances, and of course, mochi! The whole event lasts from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Portland Taiko goes onstage for 20 minutes starting at 2:00 p.m.

Portland Taiko’s 25th Anniversary Concert

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!!!

Portland Taiko’s 25th Anniversary Concert

Saturday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 p.m.
PSU Lincoln Performance Hall
1620 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97201
Portland Taiko’s 25th Anniversary Concert will feature current and past members, new works, and special guests Kenny Endo (Hawai’i), Tiffany Tamaribuchi (California), and the Kalabharathi School of Dance (Oregon). Please join us as we celebrate 25 years of drumming and community engagement! SOLD OUT! 

Thank you so much to our Saturday audience!!! For Sunday ticket-holders, remember it’s Daylight Savings and you get an extra hour of sleep tomorrow before the matinee!

Oregon Nikkei Endowment, 30th Anniversary Celebration

Saturday, September 14, 2019 from 4:00 — 6:30 p.m.
Festival Street, NW 4th & Flanders
Portland, OR 97209
Sneak peek at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center’s new museum space with food, fun, and hard hats! Portland Taiko performs at 5:45 p.m. for thirty minutes. We’re thrilled to be joining in this celebration of Oregon Nikkei Endowment’s 30 years of history, community engagement, and activism. Open to the public but a ticketed event

North American Taiko Conference Completed!!!

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!!!

Portland Taiko’s 25th Anniversary Concert

Saturday, November 2 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 3 at 2:00 p.m.
PSU Lincoln Performance Hall
1620 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97201
Portland Taiko’s 25th Anniversary Concert will feature current and past members, new works, and special guests Kenny Endo (Hawai’i), Tiffany Tamaribuchi (California), and the Kalabharathi School of Dance (Oregon). Please join us as we celebrate 25 years of drumming and community engagement! Tickets here!

Fourth Plain Multicultural Festival

Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 3:15 p.m.
Evergreen Park
3500 East Fourth Plain Boulevard
Vancouver, WA
This free event includes multicultural music and dance performances, sports and arts activities, children’s games, food vendors, booths for local organizations, and more! It runs from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Portland Taiko performs for 30 minutes starting at 3:15 p.m. Information here!

North American Taiko Conference

Friday, August 9, 2019
PSU Smith Memorial Student Union
1825 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97201
The Taiko Community of Portland (Portland Taiko, Takohachi, en Taiko, Unit Souzou, PSU Taiko Ensemble, and Catlin Gabel Taiko Club) will perform TOGETHER WE RISE to welcome the attendees of the North American Taiko Conferece! 

Obon Festival

Saturday, August 3, 2019 from 3:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Oregon Buddhist Temple
3720 SE 34th Avenue
Portland, OR 97202
It’s obon season again and we’re thrilled to return to Oregon Buddhist Temple’s Obon Festival. Come enjoy an afternoon of performances, delicious food and drinks, cultural and religious programs, and obon dance! Portland Taiko performs at 6:30 p.m. and the obon dance follows soon after!

Making Waves Museum Exhibit

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.

Starlight Parade

Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 8:30 p.m.
Downtown Portland
Portland, Oregon
Portland Taiko is thrilled to run its Portland Festival Yatai (float) once again through the streets of downtown Portland at the Rose Festival Starlight Parade. This year, we’ll be debuting our brand-new festival music written by Keiko Araki! Parade route and information here.

Fear No Music

Monday, May 6, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
The Old Church
1422 SW 11th Ave
Portland, Oregon
Portland Taiko will appear as guests for Fear No Music’s Japanarama concert, reprising Kenji Bunch’s Dango Jiru and other pieces from our Sticks and Strings concert. Also works by Pauchi Sasaki, Barbara White, Stephen Hartke, and Wang Jie. Get your tickets here!

25th Anniversary Benefit Banquet

THANK YOU!!!

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!!!

Oregon Historical Society, Family Day

Saturday, February 16 at 12:00 p.m.
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon
Join us for a fun, family day at the Experience Oregon Grand Opening Celebration with performances by BRAVO Youth Orchestras, Oregon Trail Trio, Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, The Prairie Blossoms, and storytelling by Esther and Shannin Stutzman! Portland Taiko plays for 15 minutes starting at 12:00 p.m.

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!

Mochitsuki

Sunday, January 27, 2019
PSU Viking Pavilion at the Peter Stott Center
930 SW Hall Street
Portland, Oregon
We’re excited to perform at the brand-new venue, the Viking Pavilion, at the Peter Stott Center! Come enjoy the same format of food vendors, cultural demonstrations, community organizations, and a full performance lineup at the new location in the Year of the Boar!

No No Boy
Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
Oregon Buddhist Temple
3720 SE 34th Avenue
Portland, Oregon
The night before our fall concert, we will collaborate with the songwriting and activist team of No No Boy for their opening number. Tickets are $10 with part of the proceeds benefiting the Oregon Buddhist Temple!

STICKS AND STRINGS
Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
Lincoln Performance Hall
1620 SW Park Avenue
Portland, Oregon
Tickets are now available for our fall concert highlighting Portland Taiko’s melodic repertoire for taiko, flute, and violin. The concert will feature guest musicians from the new music ensemble Fear No Music, youth taiko group en Taiko, and the premiere of Dango Jiru, a commissioned work for taiko, flute, violin, and cello composed by Kenji Bunch, Artistic Director of Fear No Music. Purchase your tickets here!

Celebration of Life for Bill Bulick
Reed Performing Arts Building
Saturday, August 4, 2018, 2:00 p.m.
28th and Botsford Drive (west end of campus)
Portland, Oregon

Rose Festival Starlight Parade
Saturday, June 2, 9:00 p.m.
Downtown Portland from Burnside/9th to Lincoln High School
Portland, Oregon
We’re thrilled to be relaunching our festival cart at this year’s Starlight Parade! Grab your beach chairs, find a spot along the parade route, and take part in this free, fun-filled Portland tradition!

Kaisho

My first experience with taiko was a parent-child workshop led by Karen Tingey when I was 4.5 years old. After several years of classes, I performed with Tanuki Taiko and Portland Taiko at Mochitsuki in 2013. In addition to taiko and piano, I also enjoy playing soccer and curling.

Donovan Carrillo

I started playing taiko when I was 12, when my parents and I all signed up for a beginning taiko class with Shinsho Mugen Daiko. While at first it was just something fun to do with my parents, I soon found it provided a physical and mental challenge that school, and later working as a hardware engineer, could not. Taiko has been a great way for me to connect to new communities whenever I changed location; the shared experience of learning and performing together, combined with the powerful sound of the taiko, helped create connections that were otherwise difficult for me. I spent four years in Colorado Springs after college, playing with the newly formed Taiko Society, before moving to Portland in 2016. I started taking classes with Portland Taiko that year and became a trainee in 2017. I look forward to many new adventures with Portland Taiko!

Taiko Conference Coming to Portland in 2019!

We’re thrilled that Portland has been chosen to host the next North American Taiko Conference in 2019! Approximately 450 taiko drummers from across the United States, Canada, Japan, and elsewhere will attend the conference at Portland State University from August 9-11, 2019. Portland Taiko is excited to work once again with Takohachi, en Taiko, Unit Souzou, PSU Taiko Ensemble, and the Catlin Gabel Taiko Group as the host committee, collectively known as the Taiko Community of Portland (TCOP). Stay tuned for more information!

PORTLAND TAIKO BENEFIT BANQUET 2018: Eat, Celebrate, Support

Join us for a hosted NW wine and beer reception followed by a delicious eight-course, vegetarian-friendly Cantonese dinner. Enjoy an exciting program of taiko performances, mystery origami leis, a live auction and paddle raise, honored guests, and special surprises! Purchase your tickets here! Friday, April 6, 2018 Wong’s King Seafood Restaurant 6:00-6:30 p.m. Hosted Wine & Beer 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dinner and Program

Lynn Grannan

When Portland Taiko started it needed a structure to handle business aspects and became a project under the Oregon Nikkei Endowment organization (ONE). I was on the board of ONE (1992 – 2016) and agreed to also serve on the PT board (1994 – 2004). I knew little of taiko but was hooked with the first concert I attended – the enthusiasm, energy, talent, and smiles of pure joy were overwhelming, and it is a pleasure to return to the PT board in 2018. I am a retired primary school teacher and can hopefully bring some organizational and project experience to the board. My whole family, husband, two children and their spouses, and two grandchildren all enjoy taiko.

Winter Taiko Classes

Portland Taiko’s winter classes are ready to start with our Taiko 101 workshop, Introduction to Odaiko and Shime, and Beyond Basics. We’re excited to get you all drumming soon! Most of our classes are sold out, but there are spaces still available in our Introduction to Odaiko and Shime from 5:00 to 6:05 p.m. on Wednesdays. In the spring, we’ll be offering Taiko 101 (4/18), Power Taiko: HA! (4/25 to 6/6), and Beyond Basics (4/25 to 6/6). Registration will be open later this month!

Mochitsuki!

It’s a new year, which means Portland’s Mochitsuki is right around the corner! PORTLAND TAIKO will be performing in PSU’s Smith Ballroom on Sunday, January 28 at 1:30 p.m. We’ll share the stage with a great lineup of performers and hope to see you there! 
And if you are volunteer-minded, please consider joining the Mochitsuki volunteer team! Free admission to the event for all volunteers! For more information and to register, please visit: https://mochipdx.ivolunteer.com/2018

Taiko Classes for Winter 2018

We’re thrilled to announce our next round of taiko classes beginning on Thursday, February 1 with our two-hour TAIKO 101 WORKSHOP and continuing with our new INTRODUCTION TO ODAIKO AND SHIME classes from Wednesday, February 7 to March 21. For our more experienced students, BEYOND BASICS will provide an opportunity to strengthen your skills, build on repertoire learned in previous classes, and concentrate on form, timing, and ensemble playing. We hope to get you drumming in the new year!

Taiko Together–Sold Out Success!

Thank you so much for helping us sell out our fall concert, TAIKO TOGETHER, featuring the four Portland-based taiko groups: Portland Taiko, Takohachi, en Taiko, and Unit Souzou. Special thanks to Carlos and Stacie Tokunaga who made it possible to commission a new work from Kristy Oshiro for our all-group finale! Here are some quick shots of the finale from photographer Brian Sweeney!   
Oregon Symphony, Sounds of Home, “American Voices” Friday, October 13, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Wieden+Kennedy Atrium at 224 NW 13th Avenue Portland, Oregon Portland Taiko is excited to team with the Oregon Symphony in their “Sounds of Home” program exploring Portland’s relationship with immigration and the influence of the immigrant experience on local arts and culture. We can’t wait to share the stage with Milagro, Edna Vazquez, Oregon Catholic Charities, and OR Symphony musicians and staff.
TAIKO TOGETHER Saturday, September 30, 7:00 p.m. PCC Sylvania, Performing Art Center at 12000 Southwest 49th Avenue Portland, Oregon Portland Taiko is pleased to present TAIKO TOGETHER featuring four Portland-based taiko groups together on one stage! Portland Taiko, Takohachi, En Taiko, and Unit Souzou will join together on Saturday, September 30 at PCC Sylvania, The Performing Arts Center for a rousing evening of group performances, special collaborations between the ensembles, and a commissioned finale for all four groups, written by former Portland Taiko performer Kristy Oshiro. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see and hear our city’s finest taiko groups in one setting! For wheelchair-accessible seats and general inquiries, please contact Portland Taiko at (503) 288-2456 or info@portlandtaiko.org.

Taiko Together Concert on September 30, 2017

Portland Taiko is pleased to present TAIKO TOGETHER featuring four Portland-based taiko groups together on one stage! Portland Taiko, Takohachi, En Taiko, and Unit Souzou will join together on Saturday, September 30 at PCC Sylvania, The Performing Arts Center for a rousing evening of group performances, special collaborations between the ensembles, and a commissioned finale for all four groups, written by former Portland Taiko performer Kristy Oshiro. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see and hear our city’s finest taiko groups in one setting! Get your tickets here!          Supported by: Alice Sumida, Carlos and Stacie Tokunaga, and the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Photos by Brian Sweeney.

Jennifer Chiba

I have been a preschool teacher for 15 years and am a mother of two wonderful kids. Now that both children are away at college, I wanted to give back to my community and joined Portland Taiko’s Board of Directors in April of 2017. I first became involved with Portland Taiko seven years ago when my son, Toshiki, joined their taiko camp for a week. He fell in love with it and through hard work, eventually became a performing member. Being a member of the taiko community as a parent and now as a board member is an absolute joy and a wonderful learning experience.

Portland Taiko at the Obon Fest!

Portland Taiko had a wonderful time performing at the Oregon Buddhist Temple’s Obon Festival on Saturday! It was great seeing so many members of our community eating, drinking, celebrating, and dancing together! Special thanks to our “Portland Festival Yatai” team who assembled the yatai for use as the temple’s yagura (central platform) this year. Photos by Craig Barnhill