Most of the chudaiko, or medium sized drums, are made from a single tree trunk. However, some American-made ones use wooden slats joined together. Each chudaiko weighs approximately 50 lbs. The shimedaiko are smaller, high pitched drums. We have a mix of heavier ones that use cowhide just like the chudaiko, and lighter ones with synthetic material heads. Their tension is kept taunt using rope.
The most iconic drums are usually the big ones! KNT is proud to have one of the largest odaiko in North America. It has a diameter of 2.75 ft and weighs approximately 100 lbs. Its body is a single piece of wood! We received it from Boshu Wakashio Daiko, a group travelling from Japan in 1990. Large odaiko like these are a signature style of Asano Taiko, whose work holds the world record for largest odaiko and is shown in museums. KNT also has an okedo odaiko, which is a large drum tied with rope instead of having a solid body. It was built by Mark Miyoshi from Mt. Shasta Taiko. Because of its lighter weight, we bring this odaiko on the road to performances with us.
In 2002, one of our KNT members at the time pursued his dream of building a hiradaiko a drum with a large diameter but a short length. His wonderful work of art is still used by us. The powerful hira can be heard over a whole ensemble of smaller drums, and is an exciting experience to play.
After seeing taiko performed, you can imagine that the drum heads really take a beating! Our chudaiko drums are the most commonly used, and are topped with heads made from cowhide. Every once in a while we have to repair them, as they get tears or holes. Our climate in Alberta is also dry, with great changes in temperature over the seasons, so that doesn’t help either!
Repairing the drums is a great team experience, and it brings us closer to our drums too as we care for them with our own hands. Here is a gallery of the last time we did it, in 2016. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the skin is prepared, removed, stretched and held until it forms.