Our style is called “Buddhist Taiko,” which is a Japanese-American term created to define a new style of taiko playing in North America. This is not found in Japan although a number of different drumming styles can be found in other cultures and religions.
Buddhist Taiko defines a new development in “Horaku Tradition” that combines the Dharma (the Buddhist teachings) with the enjoyment of music and may be loosely translated as “Dharma entertainment.” In comparing and understanding the many different taiko groups and styles that exist currently, two distinct styles should be recognized.
The traditional Japanese taiko style can be seen practiced in a Dojo with a single leader and/or teacher and a hierarchy of teaching and development. The emphasis is between the individual player and the taiko with a goal of self-actualization. The taiko player uses the bachi, taiko, and his own power or “ki“ to create the taiko sound and energy.
The newer Buddhist taiko style can be described as a group effort of taiko players working towards creating harmony with their drums and each other. Buddhist Taiko can also be described as “kumi-daiko” or taiko ensemble playing. The emphasis is on group harmony and shared development. This style is prevalent with groups based in Temple and other religious settings.
The “Taiko Dojo” style and the “Buddhist Taiko” style can be considered the two boundaries of taiko style with most groups associating with one or the other depending on their own experience and leadership.
Togen Daiko emphasizes Buddhist Taiko as its preferred taiko style. This allows all of its members to become more involved in the development of each piece and to determine its performance form. It also allows its members to learn from other taiko groups and workshops and to bring back individual experiences to share with the group.