UCLA Kyodo Taiko

UCLA Kyodo Taiko

Los Angeles, California, United States

Founded 1990

Basic Information

    University of California, Los Angeles
    Performance, Education, Culture, Community, Social

Background Information

Group's Mission and Motivation

Striving to live up to the group's name, Kyodo Taiko functions as a family, sharing the joy and spirit of taiko with more and more of the surrounding community each year. IKUZO! GAMBARUZO! MAKENAIZO!

Structure and Philosophy
Describe the ensemble's organizational structure and philosophy, including leadership structure, membership policy, and instructional process.

Composed entirely of college students, Kyodo Taiko is in a perpetual state of turnover and transition, with no fixed sensei. In addition, most members have no prior experience with playing taiko. To counteract the group's inexperience and lack of a constant teaching source, it is a main priority that all members cooperatively learn the different aspects and traditions of taiko, along with those of the group, in a very short period of time. This continuous learning process fosters fresh ideas and constant innovation, while seeking to preserve and expand upon the traditions and knowledge of previous years. All of Kyodo Taiko's pieces are either written or arranged by its members and many songs exhibit a variety of ideas and influences. In our peer-driven environment, there is a sense of freedom to experiment, to express and explore with taiko with few reservations or repercussions.

Group History
Describe how, where, and why the ensemble was founded. What was its inspiration?

Kyodo Taiko is the first collegiate taiko group to form in North America, founded in 1990 by Mark Honda under UCLA's Nikkei Student Union (NSU). Kyodo has two meanings: one is "family," and the other, literally, "loud children." Originally, members practiced without drums and became very familiar with the ubiquitous North American art of "air-bachi." In 1991, with generous help from Tom Endo and Kinnara Taiko's Kevin Higa, members built their own drums: 4 "chu-daikos" that are still part of the group's primary instruments today. The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Japanese American internment in 1992 marked Kyodo Taiko's first major performance. This special performance paid tribute to the 175 UCLA students who were interned during World War II.

List of Founding Members

Mark Honda

List of Current Members

Kenny Chang
Michelle Cheng
Masumi Asahi
Samantha Ho
Crystal Hanano
Eric Itow
Jill Tahara
Yoshimi Kawashima
Sandra Nguyen
Trent Oshiro
Sydney Shiroyama
Kyle Graycar
Kacie Hirano
Kyle Ichikawa
Michelle Shen
Kyle Tan
Reid Taniguchi
Dustin Valdez

Membership Composition
(i.e. ethnicity, generation, average years of experience, musical backgrounds, and motivation for playing)

Many of Kyodo's members are not of Japanese descent; the varied backgrounds and experiences of our members, coupled with the Japanese American perspective of taiko, create diversity in composition and performance.

Description of the group's community - regional, ethnic, social, etc.

Our performances include various campus and community events, outreach programs, K-12 school presentations, and private functions. Kyodo Taiko continues to participate annually in NSU's Cultural Night, as well as in the Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational. In the spring of 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006 we were honored to have hosted the Intercollegiate Invitational Concert and recently just hosted it again this past spring in 2011. Originated by Stanford Taiko in 1995, the Invitational offers workshops and promotes interaction between the collegiate taiko groups and is always one of the highlights of the year. We have been annual participants of the Nisei Week festivities, L.A. Tofu Festival, and in recent years, the Lotus Festival and the First Annual USA Sumo Open. Kyodo members have also been the founding members of the Nishikaze Taiko Ensemble, which performs professionally at various venues, including an entire season at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA.

Performances, Recordings, Publications

List a selection of your regular performance venues (for example, Denver Sakura Matsuri, Seabrook obon, business conventions, Manzanar Pilgrimage, Maui Marathon, etc.)

UCLA's Nikkei Student Union Culture Night
Kyodo Taiko Spring Concert
Fowler Our Loud
NSU Fall Festival
UCLA Bruins Basketball Game Half-Time Show
Annual Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational
Freshman Orientation Activities

Instructors, Teachers & Mentors
List the instructors, teachers and mentors who have worked with the ensemble.

Daisuke Arai
Yuta Kato
Kenny Endo

Taiko Collaborators
List a selection of taiko players or groups that have collaborated with the ensemble.

UCI Jodaiko
Yukai Daiko

Non-Taiko Collaborators
List a selection of non-taiko players or groups that have collaborated with the ensemble.

Cheng-Chieh Yu - UCLA WAC Department

Audio & Video Recordings
List a selection of publicly accessible audio and/or video recordings featuring the ensemble.

2007 Kyodo Taiko Spring Concert DVD
2007 Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational DVD
2006 Culture Night DVD
2006 Spring Concert DVD
2006 Intercollegiate Taiko Invitational DVD
2005 Spring Concert DVD

For access, please email kyodo@ucla.edu

Musical & Performance Styles
Describe the ensemble's musical and performance styles.

Kyodo's style is versatile and varied. The group learns and plays traditional pieces, some practiced by groups all over the nation. Kyodo also has new and original compositions that reflect the modern generation of Japanese-Americans and the modern Japanese-American community and experience.

Kyodo performs as a large group, often incorporating other percussion instruments not traditionally connected to the art of taiko, and often incorporates solo sections in their large group pieces.

Signature Works
Please include title, composer, date of composition, special reason(s) for composition, and what the work represents to the group.

Composed by Ron Peterson (2001)
The narrative song sweeps you into a scene of a storm gradually rolling in and violently dictating its path. Satiated with its display of power, it dissipates, restoring peace.

Composed by Marvin Yee (1992)
The careful listener may hear the heavy footsteps or the thunderous roar of a might dragon, or the terrifying wail of pork chops smothered in ketchup. - Marvin Yee

Composed by Shozo Yoshikawa (1999)
Genki consists of simple patterns that overlap to sound intricate and full of energy. The song reflects how simple, everyday acts such as a smile or contagious laugh can make someone full of energy, or genki . With the simple beats and fluid yet sharp form, the song sounds genki .
Composed by Walter Satoshi Tsushima (2001)
This fast-paced mix of complicated beats and sharp precision reflects the title of this song, Hashire - the Japanese word meaning, "Run!" Rhythm, skill, and above all, strong cooperation brings this piece speed and strength. The shime-daiko, usually the rhythm-keeping backbone of taiko ensembles, are featured in this piece.

Encore Remix
Composed by Jason Lew (1997)
Revised by Craig Ishii, Christine Kimura, Jason Osajima (2006)
Encore is more than just Kyodo's signiature piece; it is a reflection of us as Kyodo, UCLA students, and a family. It was originally composed in 1997 for the Intercollegiate Taiko Invitationals finale song, but it stayed within Kyodo's tradition as the closing song to our performances. The remix includes hip-hop influence, the challenge of multiple bachi spins in one beat, the energy and togetherness of our family, while keeping the essence of Kyodo's traditional Encore.


Kenny Chang, Michelle Cheng


Kyodo Taiko 2010-2011



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A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation