Taiko Performance – Japanese Lunar New Year Celebration

By Mai Ramirez

On January 29, Japanese Plus students went to the Japanese Lunar New Year celebration in the Marriott Hotel. It was especially exciting because of the different types of performances and activities for people of all ages to do and enjoy. Moreover, we had the chance to learn more about their culture and do our best to communicate with one another in spite of each other’s differences. One of my favorite parts of the Lunar New Year celebration is the Taiko performance. I preferred the Soka Taiko performance above the others among the Taiko presentations. I was at the back of the room playing a hiragana game when I heard the first beats of the Soka Taiko performance and couldn’t help but be drawn to the stage where they were performing. Although I did not know it at the moment, walking towards the performance and watching the performance became a moment tattooed into my memories.

While watching the Soka Taiko performance, it was amazing to see how certain performers would play different rhythms without messing up, even more how beautifully all the rhythmic patterns came together to transmit wonderful music. I noticed the sticks used to play the taiko aren’t the typical drumming sticks you know of, instead they use a special type of stick that is thicker. Not only that, but as they play the taiko they perform special and entrancing dance movements that prepares them for the next musical beat and allows a single performer to have a solo which made it hard for me to take my eyes off of the performance. Moreover, watching the performance made me realize the physical abilities and stamina needed to play the taiko for a long time and technique to transmit a certain sound. Since the performers would play the taiko in a standing position, sometimes overhead, other times half squatting, or even while doing big open movements that seemed to be like martial arts.

This whole experience was fun!  Being able to watch the taiko performance was one of my favorite parts of the celebration.  I will always remember this moment and smile with joy. I hope to be able to attend the next Lunar New Year celebration but this time more fluent in my Japanese. 🙂