St. Louis Osuwa Taiko studies, develops, promotes, performs and
teaches taiko, the art of Japanese ensemble drumming. In doing so,
the group helps preserve and contribute to the art while bringing
enjoyment to the community and fostering an understanding between
Japanese and American cultures.
Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi formed the original Osuwa Daiko
in Suwa, Japan, in 1951. In 1986, Oguchi-sensei visited St. Louis
(sister city of Suwa) to found St. Louis Osuwa Taiko. A year later, he
donated drums. St. Louis Osuwa Taiko started out as a kids' group
but has evolved to a nonprofit organization devoted to sharing taiko
throughout Missouri and elsewhere through year-round performances,
workshops and classes for children, adults, and seniors.
We also continue to build on our ties to Osuwa Daiko. We visited
Suwa, Japan, in 2009 to play and study taiko and hosted Osuwa Daiko
for a joint show in 2011 in St. Louis to celebrate the 25th anniversary
of St. Louis Osuwa Taiko. We believe in preserving and fostering our
sister-city relationship with Osuwa Daiko and Suwa, Japan, and acting
as cultural ambassadors by introducing new audiences to taiko.
Our largest show each year is at the Japanese Festival at the Missouri
Botanical Garden on Labor Day weekend. Thousands attend the
festival, which has fun activities for all ages, including the Dashi
procession, where children pull our Dashi, or portable drum stage on
wheels, through the garden.
Andrew started September 01, 1998
Andrew began playing taiko in 1998 with St. Louis Osuwa Taiko under the tutelage of Joe Kimura. He took over as a director of the group in 2001 and has been playing ever since. He has taken workshops with all the big names: Taiko Center of the Pacific, TAIKOPROJECT, San Jose Taiko, Kaoru Watanabe of Kodo, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, and many more.
Andrew has written four and a half original taiko pieces for St. Louis Osuwa Taiko: Kaifuu, Juugoya, Sumo in St. Louis, Rhythm Sandwich, and one awaiting a title. Hopefully many more are to come.
In addition to taiko, Andrew likes to pretend he can play the doumbek, Jew’s harp, and didgeridoo. His other interests include Argentine tango, trapeze, linguistics, Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, snow skiing, and wishing he had time to do more of that stuff.
Jaci started December 22, 2001
In addition to taiko, Jaci also plays the fue (Japanese bamboo flute) and composed "Kokoro No Koe", a piece featuring the fue. Her musical background includes playing concert flute since age twelve and performing in various instrumental and choral groups. She likes reading, movies, travel and all things Japanese (still trying to learn the language, though). Her favorite taiko experiences so far (besides meeting other taiko groups and players, and attending workshops with some of the best in the field) have included trips to Japan (to visit parent group Osuwa Daiko and participate in KASAMIX 2012 on Sado Island) and portraying a Mayan in El Monstero: Pigocalypse.
Helena started December 14, 2004
Helena started playing taiko in her sophomore year in college at WashU. She started music and performing when she was a small child and enjoys taiko for its dynamics and intensity. She spends her non-taiko time writing software, making jewelry and clothing, and being a huge nerd.
Julie started December 19, 2006
Julie has been playing taiko since a few months after her world music class at Maryville University introduced her to it. Her love of music, dance, and culture drew her to taiko, and she enjoys contributing her 18 years of dance experience to this modern performance art. She also contributes her marketing and graphic design skills to the group as Public Relations Director. In 2009, she was honored to be one of nine St. Louis Osuwa Taiko members to visit Japan and experience Japanese culture and the origins of taiko, and she hopes she will have the opportunity to go back soon.
Jenn started December 07, 2007
The very first time Jenn heard, and more importantly, felt the powerful sound of taiko drumming, she knew it was an instrument and art form she had to learn. Luckily, St. Louis Osuwa Taiko offers classes! Her first lesson was in September 2007 and playing taiko has remained an important part of her life ever since.
Rosemary started December 21, 2008
Rosemary loves taiko, books that are made out of paper, spending time with her family, and referring to herself in the third person. She is an imfaous question-asker and double-checker. Often she is remembered for being cheerful. Or clumsy. She has been a performing member of St. Louis Osuwa Taiko since December, 2008. She loves the energy of taiko. She especially enjoys playing Drive. Her favorite taiko song to watch is Tsurugi no Mai.
Kelsey started December 14, 2009
When Kelsey first saw St. Louis Osuwa Taiko perform on a random weekday night at the Sheldon, it took everything she had not to run up on stage and join the show. The drumming, the movement, the energy! She knew she had to try out. Years later, she's still completely hooked. She loves the songs, the performances, the hard-core practices, the traveling and, of course, the camaraderie. Besides, there has to be more to life than work and stressful grown-up things, right? For Kelsey, it's taiko!
Michelle started December 14, 2009
Although she began her musical training vocally, Michelle enjoys the intensity of taiko, and finds it soothing. Her favorite St. Louis Osuwa Taiko song is Kaifuu. Michelle enjoys many aspects of Japanese culture, not limited to food and, of course, music. Her favorite part of visiting Japan was seeing Senso-ji in the rain. In her spare time, Michelle likes caving, hiking, climbing, and baking.
Jason started December 14, 2009
Hello, ladies, look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he can't play taiko like me, but if he stopped playing ladies drums and joined St. Louis Osuwa Taiko, he could play taiko like he's me. Look down, back up, where are you? You're on a stage with the man your man could play taiko like. What's in your hand, back at me. I have it, it's an envelope with two tickets to the Japanese Festival. Look again, the tickets are now bachi. Anything is possible when your man plays taiko and not lady drums. I'm playing Oodaiko.
Eleanor started December 21, 2010
Eleanor had no drumming experience prior to getting involved with this group, unless you count playing the drums in Rock Band 2. She did, however, do tae kwon do for a few years when she was younger, and feels that a lot of the movements in martial arts definitely translate well into flashy taiko playing. Aside from hitting drums, her interests include making things out of scrap material, drawing, playing her ukulele, fue, kalimba, and erhu, attempting to learn Japanese, video games, some TV shows, and pulling the fortune out of fortune cookies without breaking them.
Hitomi started December 21, 2010
In 2010 Hitomi moved to St. Louis from Japan and is currently teaching Japanese.
Growing up, she always dreamt of learning taiko, and she even grew up near a taiko shop. It wasn't until she moved to St. Louis that she was able to achieve that dream.
Her life in St. Louis is much different from her life in Tokyo, but she is adjusting and having a lot of fun. She now considers St. Louis as her second hometown. Her driving skills are improving everyday as are her taiko skills.
Jeremy started December 21, 2010
Jeremy has been drumming since 1995 and was a practitioner of Okinawan martial arts from 1992 until 2002. He has attended the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden numerous times while growing up, and it was during the festival, in 1995, that he was first exposed to Taiko drumming when San Jose Taiko came to perform. Coincidentally, this was around the time he began to learn Western drumming, so Taiko left an immediate impression on him. His interest in martial arts also contributed to his fascination with Taiko.
Fifteen years later, Jeremy finally decided to give Taiko a try in 2010 when beginner classes were announced during a St. Louis Osuwa Taiko performance. He's been hooked ever since!
Kari started April 12, 2012
The first time Kari saw and felt the energy of taiko was in the movie "Kamatake." She was immediately moved, and began searching for an opportunity to learn how to play. Her friend and co-worker introduced her to his team, Renco, in Okazaki, Japan in 2008. Kari learned and played taiko with Renco under the instruction of Kawata-sensei until she left Japan in 2011. As fate would have it, soon after returning to the US she moved to St. Louis and was ecstatic to find the St. Louis Osuwa Taiko group. She wasted no time in joining the community group and quickly worked her way up to be a member of the performance group.
Joel started October 02, 2012
Joel's adventures in percussion began in high school when some friends needed a drummer and he had access to a drum set. In college, he began studying Chinese martial arts which led to performing in lion dance troupes. Joel has performed in lions, choreographed dances, and composed and played percussion pieces. Through the years he could hear the Siren of taiko beckoning, and after a year in the community group, became a performance group member. Joel loves the blend of physical and mental discipline that taiko requires, the cohesiveness between players formed by kumi-daiko and the emotional spectrum that can be created.
Theresa started October 02, 2012
Having admired St. Louis Osuwa Taiko at the Japanese Festival for many years, Theresa finally worked up the courage to take the Beginners class in the Fall of 2011. She was hooked on taiko from the very first lesson. After spending a year with the Community Group, Theresa became a full-fledged performance group member! Her previous musical background was limited to relatively immobile instruments - piano and voice - so she finds that it has been a challenge making the switch to the physical and percussive demands of taiko. Outside of taiko, Theresa enjoys quieter activities such as digital scrapbooking, nature photography, cooking, satisfying her sweet tooth, and getting lost in a good book.
Kiyomi started March 26, 2013
Susan started March 28, 2013
Susan first experienced a taiko performance 15 years ago. Finally, the timing was right to join the community taiko class starting in September 2011 and to fulfill her long-time dream of joining the St. Louis Osuwa taiko team. Taiko rocks!