The History of Taiko!

Taiko is a sacred practice in Japan. However, one may not know that it was originally introduced to Japan from China. The practice was initiated in the fifth and the sixth century during the Yamato period. Taiko is a Japanese drumming instrument that was used in classical and folk musical traditions. Ancient people in the Jyomon Era used the Taiko drums as a tool for communication or for celebrating religious rituals. Then, the Taiko drums were started to be used in warfare. They were used to gather the soldiers, frighten the enemies, and issue important commands to them.

Later on, these instruments were used to send messages between villages, inform villagers about an unpleasant incidence that could happen, ward off animals during hunting, etc. The Buddhist monasteries used the Taiko drums as a ritual instrument to communicate with the God. The popularity of Taiko began during Japan’s feudal era. At this time, the Buddhist monasteries used to support actors that gave rise to the Noh Theatre. The performances of Noh Theatre were escorted with Taiko drums that made their acts popular.

Daihachi Oguchi is considered to be the father of modern Taiko. Earlier around 4000 years ago, Taiko was used to provide signals to the villages. Some villagers believed that the boundaries of the village could only extend up to the area where Taiko drums could be heard. So, the head of a big village used to have large drums.

There were different meanings of each beat that was produced in the village. The villagers were aware that simple beats meant that the hunters were setting out. Or, it also meant that a storm could arrive any moment, and the villagers were required to keep their fruits and vegetables safely in a covered area. The beats of the drums were very important to the villagers as it made their life easier.

Some of them were so content with the Taiko drums that they had started to believe that it was inhabited by a God. As time passed, the belief started becoming stronger and stronger. So, the villagers provided the chance of beating the drums to few learned men. There were few men that were authorized by the priests to play the Taiko on special occasions. In this way, there were some popular religions developed in Japan which included the Shinto and the Buddhist.

At present, Taikos are used in religious ceremonies and local festivals of Japan. Some of these drums can be found in the Shinto shrines and the Buddhist temples. It is one of the major instruments that are played at Bon Dances. The dynamic sounds of the drums have amazed most of the people worldwide.

The Japanese immigrants have spread the beautiful sounds of these drums across the globe. During the late nineteenth century, the immigrants of Japan took the art form of Taiko to North America. Even now, North America continues to practice this amazing Japanese originated rhythms and styles. Taiko has now become a universal musical language that is trying to make the world closer.