Monday, January 30, 2012


No one will ever ask you, "are you guys going to bring the small drum?" You'll also probably never overhear two taiko players comparing how large their katsugi okedo are, either. No, the crown jewel of taiko is the odaiko.

Not every group has one, not every group needs one, but there's still such a "wow" factor for a lot of people - players and audiences alike - when the odaiko is brought on stage.

PJ Hirabayashi said that the odaiko is like a mirror - when you play it, you face it straight on and it reflects who you are to the audience. If your technique is poor, it will show. If your energy is strong, it will show. If you play to impress, to inspire, or whatever the case might be, it will show. It's a very revealing experience.

I learned everything I know about playing odaiko from PJ and Yoshikazu Fujimoto of Kodo. A lot of it I had to figure out on my own, and still am. Even though I've had teaching in every style of taiko I play, odaiko is the one that I still feel needs the most development, but is also the most satisfying.

When I play, I don't have to think about my face or what I look like. Sure, there's still some basic form to consider, but instead I think about how to make a good sound, if I'm holding anything back, and "what would Yoshikazu do?" It's tiring, it's sweaty, and it's unlike any other style of taiko than I play.

Odaiko can be empowering as well as daunting. You can't approach it meekly and there's nothing to look at but the drum itself. Is that taiko in its most "pure" form? Perhaps...


  1. I found your blog while googling for "balance while playing taiko". I have only read a couple but am already appreciative of your writing. I am a beginner when it comes to odaiko and find it extremely hard. My uchi-kata needs so much development. I like the mirror analogy. If it is a mirror, then I reckon I look anxious in that reflection.

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