Sunday, August 7, 2011


Sunday was the day for spontaneity.  Now, understand, I am your typical Type A personality, who micro-plans everything months ahead.  (This blog is the closest thing I have to being unplanned.)  In any case, this morning, we said, "If we leave now, we can make it to Santa Cruz,"  before the 2 hour traffic jam to the beach.

Downtown, we decided to go off the beaten path towards a side street.  Adventure paid off.  We were pleasantly surprised by a Music, Arts & Wine Festival. Best of all, we were treated to the throbbing rhythms of Japanese Taiko drumming!

(I was far away for all these photos and didn't have my higher quality zoom lens with me.)

Have you ever felt the intensity of Taiko?  It is not just about primal rhythms.  It is a choreographed dance, struck in a deep lunge with arms in unison and occasional circling of the drums.

This lady in the middle was always smiling
contrary to the intense looks everyone else had

I was surprised to see not only many non-Japanese among the performers, but also the number of female drummers.  This is actually common among professional taiko ensembles.  No simpering geishas here. 

The lady in the back was the Emcee and she was also calling out martial instructions to the ensemble

Taiko used to be employed in feudal Japan as a battlefield instrument to intimidate the enemy and boom out marching cadence.  Recent Taiko ensembles have a slightly different origin.  A Japanese jazz drummer, Daihachi Oguchi, discovered old taiko music and decided to jazz it up back in 1951.  Thus was born the first Taiko drum ensemble.

The high energy beat at the Festival was so infectious that people were not only bobbing to the rhythm.  I saw one onlooker break-dancing!  You'll understand what I mean if you view this YouTube video of the Yamato ensemble during a performance.  Wild!  I dare you to sit still.

So I end my weekend on a pulsating note.  I hope yours was lovely.  Let me know what you think of the Taiko drum beat :-)


  1. such a great performance it seems !

    have you seen my new look? !

  2. This looks like it was fun... I have not been to Santa Cruz in years!! I need a trip up there now after these pictures..

    Love! ~Angel

  3. WOW,it looks a great performance!!!So amazing, thanks for sharing!

  4. cool!! This look like very fun :D


  5. sounds like tons of fun to me :D would love to visit it one day ! ;)

    thanks for your really sweet comment on my blog :)

    Meena xx

  6. That third photo is such a classic!

    Lots of love from Sydney,

    x Kel

    onto animated musings

  7. Looks like you have a great fun!
    Lee x

  8. This must have been so much fun! My brother is a drummer, so he would definitely appreciate this! :)

    sorelle in style

  9. i didn't know much about taiko..the simpering geisha comment reminded me of "memoirs of a geisha"(have you seen it?).me & my best friend liked it a lot.& her cousin happened to ask for a movie suggstion around that this was suggested,the reaction he had to it was hilarious!
    i am far from being a meticulous blog is the closest i come to planning..haha!!

  10. looks like a great experience to me.

  11. @songbird- I enjoyed the book and film of "Memoirs of a Geisha.". In fact, they filmed the Cherry Blossom party at Hakone Gardens, a Japanese garden less than 10 minutes from my house. Our area has so many Japanese immigrants from the last century.

  12. I'm jealous you had the opportunity to see this live! I've always enjoyed listening to Taiko music while I work.

  13. I watched a Yamato performance in Switzerland years ago. It had such an electric atmosphere. Really loved it!

  14. I love Taiko! Not only is the beat invigorating but the performance is incredible. They have fantastic stage presence.

  15. I love the choreography. It definitely adds another dimension to the drum beats.

  16. I loved this, would love to learn the drums, so this was a treat. Lucky you for stumbling across the guys you saw at the weekend. And thank you for sharing your experience with the film of Wadaiko Yamato. Xxxx


Dear Fellow Aesthetes, I love hearing your thoughts. I think the other readers find them valuable too! Much love xxx

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