Richard Man’s Calligraphy and Photography

November 28, 2008

40th International Taiko Festival

Filed under: photography — Tags: , , — richard @ 2:42 am

Since I went to my first International Taiko Festival 15 years ago, I always have hoped to photograph the event one day. I was fortunately enough to photograph one of the Japanese premiere taiko groups Shidara at their North America tour earlier this year, and last week, I fullfilled my dream of photographing the International Taiko Festival at Zellerbach Hall.

I still need to process most of the photos, and as always, photographing taiko performances is challenging, with the low light level, the constant motion of the performers, and sometimes there are a lot of  performers! Nevertheless, here are a few pictures to get started. When I am done, they will probably be uploaded to the site.

The San Francisco Taiko Dojo “Dream Team” is aptly named. They are some of the best taiko players in America. I have seen them play a number of times and they really outdid themselves at this festival.

O’ Sensei (Grandmaster) Seiichi Tanaka started the taiko movement in America 40 years ago. Almost everyone playing taiko in America today can trace their lineages back to him:

At the end of the evening, they played their signature piece “Tsunami”, celebrating the indefatigable human spirit in the face of challenges.


Ringtaro Tateishi, Taiko Master

Filed under: photography — Tags: , — richard @ 1:31 am

Ringtaro was a member of Ondekoza, one of the most famous taiko groups from Japan. They did a tour in the U.S. from 1990-1993.

That didn’t sound too impressive, but how about this addendum – they ran ~20+ miles just about every day during those 3 years, even when they had a performance. They ran the perimeter of the U.S.A., through rain, hot sun, snow, etc.. In fact, they would run to their performance venue, or some times just moved their drums to the top of the truck, and then played. They even ran actual marathons. In New York, they ran the NY Marathon, then played at Carnegie Hall.

That’s not all. On top of that, their goal was for the entire group to run the entire distance. Shortly into the tour, they lost their driver. So, each day one of them would drive the truck ahead 5 miles, and then wait for the rest of the group to arrive. When the first one showed up, that one would drive the original driver back to the starting point so he or she could run the length everyone else had – while the driver drove the truck ahead to 5 miles beyond the previous stopping point – and so on. (Yes, the truck drove the distance 3 times altogether!).

The best thing about Ringtaro is that he is a great person. Humorous, a good teacher, of the best in the world and yet humble.

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