Thoughts on the Art of Taiko

Tetsuo Shimizu

I first started playing taiko at Misono as one of the hundred drummers who played during the Grand Dedication Ceremony of Meishusama Hall in 1982. Shortly after, I seriously began to study and perform with Ondekoza Taiko. While working with that renowned group, my skills were finely honed under a strenuous regimen of exercise, practice, and character building. After touring Europe for seven months with Ondekoza, I returned to Misono to practice hoshi. It is through my ten years spent working at Misono that I gained a strong desire to genuinely care for others. I also developed the sensitivity to perceive other's thoughts and feelings by looking into their faces.

I find that it is not necessary to be an attention-seeker to play taiko well. Although, when I first started out this desire to show off was very strong in me. However, the more we practiced as a group and the more concerts we gave, the more I came to realize the selflessness of practicing an art dedicated to our Creator. To attain this attitude, it is necessary to play with all one's emotions and energy -- as if one had reached the limit of what is possible. Today, I believe I can devote myself wholeheartedly to even the most inconspicuous and small things because what I do is in the service of God.

The tensest performance in my life was when I once played in front of Kaishusama, Mikotosama, Kaicho-Sensei and their guests. They are a very discerning people who know and expect quality. Then, I decided to just play to make them happy. They are such great people to have made us feel like that! It is important that the Shumei Taiko Ensemble always strive to achieve a higher level of artistic excellence. We are still in our infancy and still have a long way to go before we come up to the standards set by Kaishusama, who has devoted her whole life to God.

Now I realize what a gift from God it is to have such great opportunities come our way through our humble efforts as musicians. We have performed overseas, played for the Parliament of World Religions in South Africa, and at the United Nations in New York. We have created our own compositions and the Shumei Taiko Ensemble is now a well-known group. For all that, I am very grateful.

Looking ahead, I would like to help train young taiko players. I would like to find future Shumei Taiko members from among our current crop of teenage taiko students.

I first started playing taiko at Misono as one of the hundred drummers who played during the Grand Dedication Ceremony of Meishusama Hall in 1982. Shortly after, I seriously began to study and perform with Ondekoza Taiko. While working with that renowned group, my skills were finely honed under a strenuous regimen of exercise, practice, and character building. After touring Europe for seven months with Ondekoza, I returned to Misono to practice hoshi. It is through my ten years spent working at Misono that I gained a strong desire to genuinely care for others. I also developed the sensitivity to perceive other’s thoughts and feelings by looking into their faces.

I find that it is not necessary to be an attention-seeker to play taiko well. Although, when I first started out, this desire to show off was very strong in me. However, the more we practiced as a group and the more concerts we gave, the more I came to realize the selflessness of practicing an art dedicated to our Creator. To attain this attitude, it is necessary to play with all one’s emotions and energy, as if one had reached the limit of what is possible. Today, I believe I can devote myself wholeheartedly to even the most inconspicuous and small things because what I do is in the service of God.

The performance that made me the most tense in my life was when I once played in front of Kaishusama, Mikotosama, Kaicho-Sensei and their guests. They are very discerning people, who know and expect quality. Then, I decided to just play to make them happy. They are such great people to have made us feel like that. It is important that the Shumei Taiko Ensemble always strives to achieve a higher level of artistic excellence. We are still in our infancy. We still have a long way to go before we come up to the standards set by Kaishusama, who has devoted her whole life to God.

Now I realize what a gift from God it is to have such great opportunities come our way through our humble efforts as musicians. We have performed overseas. We have played for the Parliament of World Religions in South Africa and at the United Nations in New York. We have created our own compositions and the Shumei Taiko Ensemble is now a well-known group. For all that, I am very grateful.

Looking ahead, I would like to help train young taiko players. I would like to find future Shumei Taiko members from among our current crop of teenage taiko students.