Colorado State A/PACC Asian Fest continues with Taiko performance

Taiko Drums
Taiko Drums (Photo credit: T a k)

The Denver Taiko group will be bringing one of the oldest and most respected traditions of Japan to CSU as a continuation of the Asian-Pacific American Cultural Center’s Asian Fest.

Taiko, which literally translates to “drum” in Japanese, is a unique style of drumming that started out as a tool to communicate commands and frighten the enemy in battle. It has since evolved into a performing art.

“Taiko has a stance, or form, called kata, just like in karate or judo,” said Aiko Kimura, a Denver Taiko member.

“You have to find your center or point of balance. You stand up straight, but with the knees bent, not tilting forward or backward, not leaning to either side. It’s how you hold the sticks, and how you strike the drum to produce the best sound.”

This very specific stance is just one of the many pieces of a Taiko performance. The goal is to combine all these pieces together to create a special energy that both the performers and audience will feel.

“Taiko energy, Ki, is an element which is variously translated as spirit, energy, life force, or inspiration,” Kimura said. “It’s generated when the group is in harmony with one another. You want the Ki to flow through your body and connect with the drum and the audience.”

Vani Narayana, A/PACC assistant director, explained that Asian Fest has included taiko performances in the past that were popular among students, so A/PACC jumped on the chance to bring Taiko back this year.

“Denver Taiko is a really talented group of Asian Americans doing a traditional Asian art form, so I think it will be both an educational and entertaining event,” Narayana said.

Mostly made up of third, fourth and fifth generation Japanese Americans, Denver Taiko sees sharing and educating people about Asian culture as an important part of what they do.

“Taiko is a cultural art form and we are very fortunate to be part of it and share what we treasure with the community,” Kimura said. “For Denver Taiko, it is a way to say thank you to our parents, grandparents, for instilling cultural values and hoping to pass these traditional values to future taiko players.”