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Eitetsu Hayashi

Photo by M.Tominaga

After 11 years of performing in a group, Eitetsu started performing solo in 1982. In 1984, he debuted at Carnegie Hall as the first Japanese taiko drum soloist and gained international acclaim. In 2000, he performed with the Berlin Philharmonic in Waldbühne, Germany, and overwhelmed an audience of over 20,000. Since then, he has performed with many symphony orchestras and artists of different genres worldwide.

Eitetsu has pioneered the field of traditionally unprecedented taiko solos, including the Odaiko solo techniques and the creation of original techniques using a set of multiple taiko drums. He has developed a new genre of "Taiko Music" to be transmitted from Japan to the world, and is active in Japan and overseas. In 2018, he performed 6 concerts in 4 cities in the Japan-Canada Friendship 90th Anniversary Tour in Canada and in October performed in the official performance of the Japan-France Friendship 160th Anniversary Japan Expo “Japonisum 2018”. This year, he worked for production and recording as a concept video production staff for the “Tokyo 2020 NIPPON Festival”.

Eitetsu contributes to a large number of large-scale dispatches for introducing Japanese drum music and culture for each International Friendship and Exchange Year for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Relations Foundation, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

He has authored many publications, including the newly refurbished version of "Ashitano Taiko Uchie" (Hatori Shoten), autobiography "Taiko Hizuki-Dokuso no Kiseki" (Kodansha), and many other articles in journals and magazines. He has received the 1997 Minister of Education Prize for Arts and Culture, the 2001 Japan Traditional Culture Promotion Award, and the 2017 Matsuo Entertainment Awards.

Eitetsu Hayashi Official Website

 

Akitoshi Asano

Asano Foundation for Taiko Culture Research Chairman.

Born in Hakusan City, Ishikawa Prefecture, he aims to promote and continue to develop the taiko culture through the instruction and nurturing of taiko performance groups, taiko related publications, hosting events and lectures, as he carries the legacy of taiko production technology and technique, passed down since 1609.

He is also the Asano Taiko Officiant Corporation Representative Director, Taiko no Sato Kyowakan Representative, Kodo Cultural Foundation Councillor, and NPO Corporation Oyako no Hiroba Asagao Chairman.

In 2006, he was awarded the "100 Energetic Manufacturing SMEs that Support Japan of Tomorrow," from the Ministry of Economy, and the Hakusan City Local Culture Award in 2007.

 
Daigoro Aska

CEO: Representative Director

Daigoro Aska started practicing Nihon-Buyo at age 16, and studied under the head of the Asuka School of Nihon-Buyo, Mineo Asuka. After 12 years of apprenticeship, he became independent. In 1990, he founded ASKA-GUMI. In 2020, the group reached their 30th anniversary since their formation. In addition, Daigoro Aska has trained Wadaiko groups both in Japan and overseas, teaching over 70 groups and 1800 players.

His publications include “Wadaiko No Susume”.

Repertoire: “Ryozanpaku” “Daibakufu” “Denpa” etc.

Leonard Eto

The global scale and diversity of Leonard Eto’s career as a taiko player is monumental.

Leonard Eto was born in New York. Since 1984, he has performed and composed in the taiko group Kodo; furthermore, he has established his own taiko ensemble as a music director and led his group in revolutionizing the image of taiko. After becoming independent in 1992, he performed in over 50 countries until he was appointed as a Japan Cultural Envoy of the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2013. He collaborates with a wide range of artists, and has performed with Bob Dylan, Elton John, Sting, Roger Taylor (Queen), Zakir Hussain, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Tomoyasu Hotei and Tsuyoshi Domoto. He also actively collaborates with dance, having published works with world-class ballerina Nina Ananiasivili, New York dance company Pilobolus, the Ballet National de Marseille, and Theater Regensburg. His music is frequently featured in overseas films such as JFK and The Thin Red Line, Olympic competitions, and TV commercials.

​Leonard Eto Official Website​

 
 
Shogo Yoshii

Born in Yokohama City, Japan, Shogo starts playing taiko and shinobue at age 13, and kokyu at age 19. Since then, he has been pursuing fieldwork on the folklore performing arts of Japan.  In 2003, he moved to Sado Island to join the group Kodo. He performs with the ensemble for ten years in Japan and abroad, including the Fuji Rock Festival and many other international festivals. A total of about 1000 performances, an average of 110 per year. While in Kodo, he was not only a performer, but also was a stage director and composer.

In 2010, he participated in “Babel -words” choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet. The piece won many awards, including the British Olivier Prize. In 2014, at the suggestion of Ryuichi Sakamoto, the piece had its Japan premiere at the Sapporo Arts Festival. In 2010, Shogo directed, composed and performed music for Arte y Solera’s “Flamenco Dojoji”. In 2012, he was appointed director of the Earth Celebration 2012. In 2013, he left Kodo and started his solo career.  In March 2013, he was invited as a guest artist at the Gothenburg Ballet Spirit in Sweden.  In May, he participated in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s dance piece “fractus”, for the 40th anniversary of the Pina Bausch Dance Company. Also was appointed as music director of Barcelona’s “JAPAN MATSURI”, creating music and dance for the Barcelona Bon Dance. In 2014, he composed, directed and performed with Ikuko Kawai at the Cerulean Noh Theatre. In 2015, he became the music director for “Pluto”, a play starring actor, Mirai Moriyama. In 2016, he began a musical collaboration with Anna Sato for “Shima Uta”.

In 2017, he presented “Judas, Christ with Soy” with Mirai Moriyama and Ela Hochschild at Ehime Uchikoza, which was also aired on NHK’s “Jidori” and SKY PerfecTV, to great acclaim. In 2018, he was in charge of the music for Theatre Cocoon’s “PLUTO”, starring Mirai Moriyama and Tao Tsuchiya. He has also performed, directed, and composed for violinist Ikuko Kawai’s concert at Orchard Hall, and was a general advisor for her new CD album, “Luna”. Provided music for Fuji Television’s “The Nonfiction”. Provided music for “Setouchi the movie”, a short film directed by Chairman Osato of Amuse, presented at the Osaka Expo and performed in Paris.

In 2019, he led “Waraku Soden”, an exploration to expand the possibilities of Japanese music.

 
Franco Imperial

Artistic Director, San Jose Taiko

Franco has composed over 20 original works for SJT and has co-created and produced collaborations with artists such as Abhinaya Dance Company (“Synergy” which won the 2011 Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music/Sound/Text ), 5-time Grammy Award-nominee John Santos, NEA Heritage Fellow Danongan Kalanduyan, artist/teacher Dan Sabanovich, The Bangerz (Ji: A Common Pulse), Epic Immersive (Swingposium, Japantown Immersive), and Aswat Ensemble (Echoes Into The Future). He is a member of the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute (MALI) and has led workshops for the North American Taiko Conference, European Taiko Conference, and Intercollegiate Taiko Invitationals.

 

In 2010 he became an Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) Apprenticeship Program recipient. In 2014 Franco was selected to be part of World Arts West’s NextGen Leadership Group for the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival. In 2019 he was selected by the City of San Jose Office Cultural Affairs to be a Creative License Ambassador. He has been selected as an instructor for the 2019 Pacific Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit in Los Angeles, and a speaker on Audience Engagement in 2013 and 2019 at the Engage.next Conferences in San Jose. 

 

Franco has honed San Jose Taiko's unique style and created a voice for the current generation while honoring the group's 47-year legacy. He leads SJT in artistic projects that align with three pillars: performing art as a catalyst to move audiences from awareness to action; performing art as a way to foster connection, cultural understanding, and widespread creativity; and performing art as a way to open hearts and minds, building a more just and equitable society.

Wisa Uemura

San Jose Taiko Executive Director

Stanford University BA Psychology with honors, performance experience 26 years, artistic leadership experience 19 years, management and executive leadership experience 16 years.

In her 21 years with San Jose Taiko, Wisa has served as Performer, Artistic Staff, General Manager and in July 2011 Wisa succeeded its founder to lead the organization as Executive Director. Recognized as a leader within her field, Wisa has led presentations on taiko, succession planning, organizational culture and communications, nonprofit fundraising and women’s empowerment at the North American Taiko Conference, World Taiko Gathering, Alliance of Artists Communities National Conference, the National Consortium of Creative Placemaking Pacific Summit, and the inaugural National Endowment for the Arts Folk & Traditional Arts Convening.

 

She has served on peer review grant panels for the Knight Foundation Arts and NEA Folk & Traditional Arts programs. Wisa is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley and has completed executive management trainings with BoardSource, FMA, CompassPoint, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

Current duties include: performer, organizational oversight, fundraising (both foundation and individual donor), fiscal management, community engagement, and public relations.

Ian Cleworth
Photo by Karen Steains

Taikoz Artistic Director and Co-founder

Ian co-founded Taikoz in 1997 with Shakuhachi Dai Shihan Riley Lee and has been the ensemble’s Artistic Director since. In 2005 he became full-time with the group after having spent 20 years as Principal Percussionist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and 16 years with the percussion group Synergy.

Ian is a performer, composer and teacher, and as a member of Taikoz has collaborated with, and composed works for the ensemble and artists as diverse as John Bell and the Bell Shakespeare Company, koto virtuosi Kazue Sawai and Satsuki Odamura, and choreographers Meryl Tankard and Anandavalli. With Taikoz Ian has given performances all over Australia, as well as touring internationally to Japan, France, United States and New Zealand. Chi Udaka, Taikoz’s collaboration with South Indian classical dance company Lingalayam, toured India to much acclaim. Taikoz have also performed concertos with the Sydney, Melbourne and West Australia Symphony Orchestras, and the Dresdner Sinfoniker in Paris.

In the 1980s Ian learnt taiko with Sen Amano of Yamanashi Prefecture, followed two decades later by tutorship from Eitetsu Hayashi, including joining his ensemble Fuun no Kai for a performance of Maki Ishii’s Monochrome in the Tokyo Summer Festival. With Synergy, Ian collaborated with many composers and artists, and toured Australia, England, Germany, Hungary, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Singapore, Sweden and Taiwan.

In 2007 Ian received the APRA-AMC Classical Music Award for Long-term Contribution for the Advancement of Australian Music, and in 2016, the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation for his contribution towards promoting friendship and goodwill between Australia and Japan. Ian is also an enthusiastic Kendoka and member of the Sydney Kendo Club.

 
 
 
Tsuyoshi Yamauchi

Fugaku Kai, Chair

Nippon Taiko Foundation, Director

Nippon Taiko Foundation, First Class Official Instructor

Nippon Taiko Foundation Shizuoka Branch, Advisor

 

Tsuyoshi Yamauchi began self-teaching Odaiko in 1986, and in the following year took first place in the Mt. Fuji Taiko Festival Odaiko Contest. Since then, he has appeared in commercials such as for “Oronine Ointment” and “Seven Stars”, and has appeared in and provided music for many TV programs and movies, such as the opening for professional baseball All-Stars games, the “24-Hour Television” charity telethon, and “Kamen Rider Hibiki”. In addition, he has performed more than 100 domestic performances annually, such as performing his original Wadaiko ensemble piece “Fujisan” at the National Theatre of Japan. Overseas, he has a record of over 300 performances in 25 countries.

 

Currently, as representative of Fugaku Taiko and Fugaku Wadaiko Classes, Tsuyoshi Yamauchi is engaged in performances, creative activities, technical guidance for the development of local culture, and team development activities. Also, as a part of his main occupation as the director of Fugaku Gakuen, he incorporates Wadaiko into therapy for children with intellectual disabilities. Through practice and research, he individually developed the “Wadaiko Nursery Program”; he holds workshops, seminars and lectures across the country, and attracts attention worldwide.

 
Kazuhiko Osawa

Nippon Taiko Foundation, Chair

 

Born in 1946, Graduated from Nihon University School of Economics

Kazuhiko Osawa focused on band and marching from high school, playing the clarinet and saxophone in formations made of male students. When he was a 4th year university student, he was appointed chair of the newly-formed band federation, and led universities from across the nation in contributing to events such as the ceremonial performance at the Tokyo Universiade.

 

After graduating from university, he instructed his juniors as the club director at his alma mater, while serving as the director of the band and baton federations. Afterwards, he became certified as an official marching band instructor, and took part in a wide range of fields such as instructing bands for Tokyo Disneyland and Shima Spain Village.

 

He also worked hard to establish the Japan National Music Promotion Foundation (current Japan Music Foundation). After working at the secretariat, he helped establish the All Japan Taiko Federation (current Japan Taiko Foundation), which was at the time part of the Japan Music Foundation.

 

Since then, he has been engaged in the promotion of Japanese taiko. He was appointed managing director in June 2016, and chair in June 2020.

 
 Unosuke Miyamoto  

Born in 1941 in Asakusa, Tokyo, Miyamoto Unosuke became the seventh generation to inherit the family name in 2003. In 1964 he graduated from Meiji University School of Commerce. A year after graduation, he started working for his family owned business Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten and he became the CEO in 1975.  In 1988 he opened TaikoKan, a world percussion museum, and in 1993, opened Miyamoto Studio as a place for practicing and hosting Japanese classic music and taiko classes.

 

In 2010, he became the executive chairman of Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten and also received an award from the commissioner of Cultural Affairs. In 2013, he received “Oujuhosho” the medal of Yellow Ribbon which honors those whose skills and achievements serve as a model for others.  From 2015 to present, he resides as the President of Asakusa Shrine where he oversees maintenance and management of the shrine.  As a festival researcher, he also carries out activities to convey the history and charm of festivals and traditional performing arts throughout Japan. His hobbies are photography, listening to music and Haiku.

Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten

 

Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten was founded in 1861 in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki prefecture and established headquarters and a factory in Asakusa in 1893. They manufacture and sell taiko, portable shrines and other festival related items. As an official purveyor for the Imperial Household Agency, they craft traditional imperial court musical instruments or Gagaku, as well as instruments for the Kabukiza, National Theater, National Noh Theater and shrines and temples throughout Japan.

Taikokan

 

Taikokan is a world drum museum operated by Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten. There are about 900 instruments in the collection and about 200 from Asia, Africa, Europe and America that are showcased at TaikoKan. There are many visitors from overseas and visitors can touch and play most of the exhibits.  The museum is enjoyed by everyone from adults to children.

 
Alan Okada

A muralist and graphic designer, Alan went on to a 34-year long career in Corporate and Community Affairs at Citibank and Citigroup, including serving as Vice President of the Citi Foundation managing corporate philanthropy in more than 80 countries.

Alan and his wife Mieko first played taiko to accompany Obon celebrations in New York, Seabrook, NJ and Washington, DC during the mid-1970’s, and became founding members of Soh Daiko in 1979.  Soh Daiko was the first taiko group on the east coast of the United States and, at that time, one of only 12 taiko groups outside of Japan. 

Soh Daiko has performed for community festivals and celebrations in support of Asian American organizations and causes for more than 40 years.  In addition to hundreds of community performances and workshops, the group has performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and has been featured on television on Sesame Street and MTV Unplugged. 

Alan served on the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) advisory committee for the first eight North American Taiko Conferences and on the advisory group for the Japanese American National Museum’s Big Drum exhibit. He served as a founding member of the North American Taiko Community Alliance (TCA) board of directors and is a member of the TCA Advisory Council.

 
Jennifer Weir

Jennifer Weir has been passionately studying, performing, teaching, and composing Taiko for the past two decades. Ms. Weir is the founding Executive Director of TaikoArts Midwest, Artistic Director of Ensō Daiko (formerly Mu Daiko), and a performing member of ensemble-MA, led by Iris Shiraishi. She recently directed and produced the groundbreaking HERbeat concert, and is now busy producing the HERbeat documentary film.

 

Ms. Weir is also a theater director and dramaturg with Theater Mu, and a past recipient of grants from Live Music for Dance MN, MN State Arts Board, MN Regional Arts Board, Arts International, American Composers Forum, and a Jerome MN Travel Grant.

 
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World Taiko Conference Committee

Website photos courtesy of:

Nippon Taiko Foundation, North American Taiko Conference, European Taiko Conference Organizer