Moving to the beat of our own drums
The members of Kita no Taiko came from a variety of backgrounds, but we all have something in common….a love for our art!
Who we are
Kita no Taiko is a non-profit, volunteer based Japanese Drumming group located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Our group formed in 1986. Six people began with a passion to play Japanese Drums (Taiko) but had no drums, no costumes and only two very short songs. Initially, practice consisted of playing on spare tires and were based on self-discovered techniques for playing.
Frustrated with playing tires, the group dedicated 6 months to building a few crude drums using a feta cheese barrel, a wine barrel and plastic sewer pipe. We were pleased with having the beginnings of a real Japanese drum troupe. As well, we constructed drum stands and costumes, and added a few more pieces to our repertoire. Our goal was to debut at Heritage Festival, an annual event in Edmonton.
We were very nervous the day of our first performance, and were surprised that we were so well received. From there, our performances increased and spread to other cities. We have been honoured to play at festivals in Edmonton like the Fringe, K-Days, Heritage Festival and First Night, and at venues like the Jubilee, Winspear and Citadel theatres. We have done collaborative performances with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Citie Ballet, Shumka Ukranian Dance, Firefly Theatre and many others. In 1998 we participated in an international award winning film project by Mieko Ouchi called “By This Parting.” We have been thankful to have the opportunity to travel to Japan twice as a group and study with masters there, and to attend conferences such as the North American Taiko Conference where we learn from a range of teachers from around the world.
Taiko is a very special art in that it connects so many aspects that can better a person, and provide challenge and satisfaction to them. Some people enjoy learning the music, some people enjoy the exercise they get, and some are strengthened by the community and the friends they make. Because taiko is such a wonderfully diverse and adaptable style, we constantly have new things to absorb and new ground to break. Our goal is to continue to improve and challenge ourselves within our art. We also strive to share taiko with our community, through performances, workshops and classes. Taiko encompasses music, discipline, athleticism, movement, and Japanese culture. These are things Kita no Taiko values and wishes to share with others.
Kita no Taiko thrives because our community supports us. We train in the Edmonton Japanese Community Association’s hall and are pleased to have an ongoing partnership with their events and programs that promote Japanese culture in Canada. We also enjoy our place within the Taiko Community Alliance and the larger global taiko scene, which is growing everyday! And, of course, Kita No Taiko is very appreciative of the support and friendship of the vibrant arts community in Edmonton.
We had no idea what the results of our efforts would be when we started back in 1986! Today we are as excited about what has happened so far as we are for the future of Kita No Taiko. Our longevity is largely due to our drummers’ cooperation, dedication, and hard work, and the support from our friends and family. Over the years, Kita no Taiko has produced many exciting projects, performances, and collaborations. The future holds limitless opportunities for us to further pursue and extend our art through performances, teaching, and volunteering. We very much look forward to what our future holds.