Thoughts on the Art of Taiko
Takuya Yasuda

I first became aware of the power of taiko back in grade school when I saw the Shumei Ensemble perform. Although just a child, I was deeply moved and from that time on wanted to be like the performers I saw on stage that day. When I was seventeen, I joined a taiko study group and six years later went to live at Misono in the hope that one day I would be a member of the Ensemble. My decision to come to Misono was very much bound up with taiko. Looking back, that decision is what made me what I am today. I applied myself very hard to do the hoshi that is required at Misono, for I knew that through this work the chance to play taiko eventually would open itself up to me.

As for the Ensemble, technique is necessary, but faith is also very important. I learned that what we accumulated in our daily lives emerges when we perform on stage and that is what moves people's hearts when they hear and see us. This does not only happen on stage but in all parts of our lives. This is one of the most precious things I have learned since being with the Ensemble.

There is a moment that occurs when I realize that I have just jumped over one of those invisible hurdles that present themselves in life. It is a moment of growth. In such moments, I really feel the presence of God.

Recently, I have begun to feel just how strongly the power of thought affects our future. If a person is struggling with the desire to be or do something, yet has not succeeded, it is because his or her thoughts are weak. If a person truly wants something, they will achieve it. They will not be struggling over whether or not to do it, they will have already done it. The point is to buckle down.

In 1999 at the Parliament of World Religions in South Africa, we played after speeches given by a number of renowned people, among them the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. I wondered how the audience would react to us after hearing from such famous people. After our performance there was loud applause from the audience. "This is a miracle", I thought. I could feel the emotions of the people in the audience. I knew then that God had accepted our desires and had given us the necessary energy to fulfill them. Moving people's hearts is the work of God.

Though I am by nature a show off, I prefer to train strictly as a part of an ensemble, a group of people who are always thinking of each other. I would much rather work this way than as one person doing the same thing as the fellow next to him. I want to elevate myself personally through taiko for the sake of the whole Ensemble.