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.
Eddie started 2006-12-19
Eddie loves playing taiko and loves his taiko family.
He enjoys the fully body workout taiko can give you and all of the tremendous opportunity it provides. Traveling with the group is always fun. Seattle was a blast, but Japan was unbeatable.
Since joining taiko, he's grown as a person and is a lot more outgoing in general. Before he started, there would of been no way he would have gotten up and talked in front of even a small crowd. But now he's not even nervous to play or even make jokes and chitchat by himself in front of thousands of people.
Life without taiko would be pretty dull. And quiet.
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
Jason has been playing Taiko since 2009, and percussion since 1996. His favorite songs include Juugoya, Sumo, and Tsurugi.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Mana is from Hong Kong and Japan. She started playing Taiko with Gendo Taiko at Brown University in 2006. During her first two years, she played a lot of Miyake and Yatai-bayashi. As a result, these two songs still have a very special place in her heart. Before moving to Saint Louis, she performed with O•Daiko, an all-female Taiko ensemble in Hong Kong. Mana loves Taiko for its visceral intensity, and its ability to bring together eclectic personalities to form tight lively communities. She also loves delicious foods, science writing (fiction and non-fiction), camping, plant ecology, and East Asian prehistory - most of which are part of her profession in some form or another.
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.
Natsuki started 2016-10-25
Natsuki is from Nagano, Japan. Natsuki has benn playing taiko since 2007 when she was 12 years old in her home town, Nakajo. She is a member of Nakajo Mushikura Taiko and taught by Katsuji Kondo. Natsuki has joined Ise Taiko Matsuri (Taiko festival in Ise, Mie prefecture) in 2008 and 2009. In 2016, she came to the US as a transfer student of University of Missouri - St. Louis. After Natsuki went Japanese Festival 2016 at Missouri Botanical Garden, She tried out to join in St. Louis Osuwa Taiko and became a performing member since October 2016. Natsuki studies in computer science major in UMSL, also Natsuki is playing the alto saxophone and the soprano saxophone in UMSL Wind Ensemble Club and UMSL Jazz Lab Band.
Elizabeth started 2016-10-25
Elizabeth studied music and choral singing with her sisters from a young age, but around middle school age she was drawn to the excitement of taiko when she saw it performed at the Japanese Festival. She began playing taiko in 2011 in Toyama, Japan, with former Oedo Sukeroku Taiko member Ryuichi Yoshinari, and performed with his team Volkreis. Elizabeth branched into shinobue in 2014 under the guidance of Yuko Haoka in Toyama and continues to practice and experiment with various flutes and styles of playing. Elizabeth hopes to learn as much about Japanese performance art as she can from as many different sources as she can persuade to teach her. Aside from taiko and fue, she loves reading Diana Wynne Jones books and eating sweets.