St. Louis Osuwa Taiko studies, develops, promotes, performs and
teaches taiko, the art of Japanese ensemble drumming. In doing so,
the group helps preserve and contribute to the art while bringing
enjoyment to the community and fostering an understanding between
Japanese and American cultures.
Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi formed the original Osuwa Daiko
in Suwa, Japan, in 1951. In 1986, Oguchi-sensei visited St. Louis
(sister city of Suwa) to found St. Louis Osuwa Taiko. A year later, he
donated drums. St. Louis Osuwa Taiko started out as a kids' group
but has evolved to a nonprofit organization devoted to sharing taiko
throughout Missouri and elsewhere through year-round performances,
workshops and classes for children, adults, and seniors.
We also continue to build on our ties to Osuwa Daiko. We visited
Suwa, Japan, in 2009 to play and study taiko and hosted Osuwa Daiko
for a joint show in 2011 in St. Louis to celebrate the 25th anniversary
of St. Louis Osuwa Taiko. We believe in preserving and fostering our
sister-city relationship with Osuwa Daiko and Suwa, Japan, and acting
as cultural ambassadors by introducing new audiences to taiko.
Our largest show each year is at the Japanese Festival at the Missouri
Botanical Garden on Labor Day weekend. Thousands attend the
festival, which has fun activities for all ages, including the Dashi
procession, where children pull our Dashi, or portable drum stage on
wheels, through the garden.
Andrew started 1998-09-01
Andrew began playing taiko in 1998 with St. Louis Osuwa Taiko under the tutelage of Joe Kimura. He took over as a director of the group in 2001 and has been playing ever since. He has taken workshops with all the big names: Taiko Center of the Pacific, TAIKOPROJECT, San Jose Taiko, Kaoru Watanabe of Kodo, Tiffany Tamaribuchi, and many more.
Andrew has written five and a half original taiko pieces for St. Louis Osuwa Taiko: Kaifuu, Juugoya, Sumo in St. Louis, Rhythm Sandwich, Ibuki, and Sen no Kodama. Hopefully many more are to come.
In addition to taiko, Andrew likes to mess around with the doumbek, Jew's harp, didgeridoo, and clarinet... sometimes with Mosaic, a Turkish-themed band. His other interests include Argentine tango, yoga, table tennis, snow skiing, linguistics, Japanese calligraphy, and wishing he had time to do more of that stuff.
Jaci started 2001-12-22
In addition to taiko, Jaci also plays the fue (Japanese bamboo flute) and composed 'Kokoro No Koe', a piece featuring the fue. Her musical background includes playing concert flute since age twelve and performing in various instrumental and choral groups. She likes reading, movies, travel and all things Japanese (still trying to learn the language, though). Her favorite taiko experiences so far (besides meeting other taiko groups and players, and attending workshops with some of the best in the field) have included trips to Japan (to visit parent group Osuwa Daiko and participate in KASAMIX 2012 on Sado Island) and portraying a Mayan in El Monstero: Pigocalypse.
Helena started 2004-12-14
Helena started playing taiko in her sophomore year in college at WashU. She started music and performing when she was a small child and enjoys taiko for its dynamics and intensity. She spends her non-taiko time writing software, making jewelry and clothing, and being a huge nerd.
Rosemary started 2008-12-21
Rosemary loves taiko, books that are made out of paper, spending time with her family, and referring to herself in the third person. She is an imfaous question-asker and double-checker. Often she is remembered for being cheerful. Or clumsy. She has been a performing member of St. Louis Osuwa Taiko since December, 2008. She loves the energy of taiko. She especially enjoys playing Drive. Her favorite taiko song to watch is Tsurugi no Mai.
Jason started 2009-12-14
Hello, ladies, look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he can't play taiko like me, but if he stopped playing ladies drums and joined St. Louis Osuwa Taiko, he could play taiko like he's me. Look down, back up, where are you? You're on a stage with the man your man could play taiko like. What's in your hand, back at me. I have it, it's an envelope with two tickets to the Japanese Festival. Look again, the tickets are now bachi. Anything is possible when your man plays taiko and not lady drums. I'm playing Oodaiko.
Michelle started 2009-12-14
Although she began her musical training vocally, Michelle enjoys the intensity of taiko, and finds it soothing. Her favorite St. Louis Osuwa Taiko song is Kaifuu. Michelle enjoys many aspects of Japanese culture, not limited to food and, of course, music. Her favorite part of visiting Japan was seeing Senso-ji in the rain. In her spare time, Michelle likes caving, hiking, climbing, and baking.
Hitomi started 2010-12-21
In 2010 Hitomi moved to St. Louis from Japan and is currently teaching Japanese.
Growing up, she always dreamt of learning taiko, and she even grew up near a taiko shop. It wasn't until she moved to St. Louis that she was able to achieve that dream.
Her life in St. Louis is much different from her life in Tokyo, but she is adjusting and having a lot of fun. She now considers St. Louis as her second hometown. Her driving skills are improving everyday as are her taiko skills.
Eleanor started 2010-12-21
Eleanor had no drumming experience prior to getting involved with this group, unless you count playing the drums in Rock Band 2. She did, however, do tae kwon do for a few years when she was younger, and feels that a lot of the movements in martial arts definitely translate well into flashy taiko playing. Aside from hitting drums, her interests include making things out of scrap material, drawing, playing her ukulele, fue, kalimba, and erhu, attempting to learn Japanese, video games, some TV shows, and pulling the fortune out of fortune cookies without breaking them.
Jeremy started 2010-12-21
Jeremy has been drumming since 1995 and was a practitioner of Okinawan martial arts from 1992 until 2002. He has attended the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden numerous times while growing up, and it was during the festival, in 1995, that he was first exposed to Taiko drumming when San Jose Taiko came to perform. Coincidentally, this was around the time he began to learn Western drumming, so Taiko left an immediate impression on him. His interest in martial arts also contributed to his fascination with Taiko. Fifteen years later, Jeremy finally decided to give Taiko a try in 2010 when beginner classes were announced during a St. Louis Osuwa Taiko performance. He's been hooked ever since!
Theresa started 2012-10-02
Having admired St. Louis Osuwa Taiko at the Japanese Festival for many years, Theresa finally worked up the courage to take the Beginners class in the Fall of 2011. She was hooked on taiko from the very first lesson. After spending a year with the Community Group, Theresa became a full-fledged performance group member! Her previous musical background was limited to relatively immobile instruments - piano and voice - so she finds that it has been a challenge making the switch to the physical and percussive demands of taiko. Outside of taiko, Theresa enjoys quieter activities such as digital scrapbooking, nature photography, cooking, satisfying her sweet tooth, and getting lost in a good book.
Joel started 2012-10-02
Joel's adventures in percussion began in high school when some friends needed a drummer and he had access to a drum set. In college, he began studying Chinese martial arts which led to performing in lion dance troupes. Joel has performed in lions, choreographed dances, and composed and played percussion pieces. Through the years he could hear the Siren of taiko beckoning, and after a year in the community group, became a performance group member. Joel loves the blend of physical and mental discipline that taiko requires, the cohesiveness between players formed by kumi-daiko and the emotional spectrum that can be created.
Heather started 2015-04-03
Heather first experienced taiko in 2012 and was immediately hooked by the energy and excitement. After about a year in the Community Group, she joined the performing group and is loving it! Outside of taiko, Heather enjoys hiking and bicycling, photography and cooking tasty food.
Jack started 2015-04-03
Mana started 2015-11-05
Katie started 2016-01-01
Katie first learned about taiko while practicing Shinkendo, a Japanese sword martial art, in her native Iowa. It wasn’t until she moved to St. Louis, however, that she experienced taiko live for the first time at the Japanese Festival. The energy of the show was so infectious that she knew she had to try it! She signed up for St. Louis Osuwa Taiko’s beginner’s class in summer of 2014 and the rest is history. Katie’s other musical pursuits include singing, clarinet, and pretending to play tenor sax. She also enjoys reading, watching TV, doing cross-stitch, bar trivia nights, and spending time with her two cats.
Elizabeth started 2016-10-25
Natsuki started 2016-10-25