Yamato: What is taiko drumming?

By Kendall Buzzelli

When I think of drumming, I think of the cool kid in School of Rock or Miles Teller in the movie Whiplash. It’s a very specific view of what drumming can be; I’m unfamiliar with the different kinds of drumming that come from around the world. With Yamato: Drummers of Japan coming to Wharton Center next week, I wanted to take a closer look at the art form of taiko drumming – what it is, how it came to be, and how it elevates the game of drumming.


Taiko is a specific kind of drum; the word literally means “fat drum.” It is assumed that taiko has had a presence in Japan for over 200 years, but has seen a large boom around the world in the last 50. Originally, taiko drums were used in the battlefield to scare and intimidate the enemy with their loud and commanding sounds. The Japanese people associated the sounds with the gods of Buddhism and Shinto religions.


In present day, the Japanese aren’t going to battle with these drums strapped to their backs, but it is still common to find taiko in temples and shrines. Much like Yamato, taiko drumming is performed in an ensemble with various kinds and sizes of the traditional taiko drum. In recent years, taiko drumming has gone worldwide because of its high energy and physically demanding performance. Taiko drummers have been known to undergo rigorous training including daily 10-mile runs!

Yamato is no different – this group is vibrant, exciting, and dedicated. They incorporate color and style into their performances, at no expense to the beautiful art form.

Yamato: Drummers of Japan will be at Wharton Center on February 6. Student and youth tickets are just $19. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more behind the scenes looks at what’s up at Wharton. 

Kendall Buzzelli is a senior at Michigan State studying advertising and arts management and a marketing intern at Wharton Center.

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Posted in Wharton Center News

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