Thoughts on the Art of Taiko
Hisatoshi Kawaguchi

I love taiko and enjoy the training and practice that it involves. Since 1992, I have trained by way of long-distance running and practicing Mikotonori. I was first attracted to taiko because its training involved running, which in Shumei is seen as a commitment to God. It is not too much to say that taiko is the only way I know to reduce the stress that I feel. In addition, I enjoy the simple communication that is used between members of our group.

I have a somewhat fickle nature and would not have continued taiko if the purpose were just to perform. I continue playing because I look at it as my divine duty. That is the charm it holds for me, that there is something beyond my own self-satisfaction.

For me our one most significant performance took place just two weeks after I joined the Ensemble. It took place at the Miho Museum's first symposium. A half-year after that, we were playing in New York City. I will never forget those early performances in which I took part. My strongest memory is the pure pleasure that I felt playing taiko, although, at the time, I also felt embarrassment because of my lack of physical strength. But the experience made me want to train harder so that I would feel better about performing on stage.

As for taiko practice, each one of us needs to improve with each day and not just be satisfied with maintaining our present state. My goal is to improve my skills. I am still new to taiko and have much room for growth. I find that my weak points improve with each performance. Although I tend to get upset when another member points out the weaker aspects of my technique, I realize that it is important to listen honestly to the advice of others. I try to be as objective as I can about it.

As for God, I try to make my efforts accord with His will and not be driven too much by my own desires. It is impossible to reach perfect accordance with God, but yet small parts of any endeavor can be improved. Many things can be fixed in almost everything.

Mainly, I learned three very important things by being in the Ensemble: self-centered thinking is not good, nothing is perfect, and there is always room for improvement. In addition, I have learned something important about an aspect of our minds: thoughts mirror the way a person acts and our behavior reflects our attitudes.

Today, I am in a good place, where I can improve as much as I can. Although it is impossible to evaluate taiko by numbers, if God is keeping score, I hope to have a passing grade. Actually, I would like to reach a perfect score in God's evaluation. But then, there are so many things to improve upon both in taiko and in life.