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TAIKO Festival coming to Bellevue

TAIKO Festival - Chris Wilson
TAIKO Festival
— image credit: Chris Wilson

The sonorous thunder of Japanese drums will boom out of the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue as the World Taiko Festival returns to town from Jan. 15 to Jan 17.

Taiko are a range of traditional Japanese percussion instruments with a history stretching back more than 1,500 years.

Asako Tateishi, organizer of the event, said the World Taiko Festival is a fantastic opportunity to learn about a new culture.

“The audience will enjoy ‘Japanese’ sounds, rhythms and movements which spread energy and happiness among people from different racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds,” she said. “It is our hope that people can forget about their daily lives and just simply enjoy our performances and return to their daily routines feeling happy.”

Japanese traditional music often utilizes heavy percussion and syncopated beats. Taiko drums are one of the main instruments used.

Tateishi, along with co-founder of The School of TAIKO Ringtaro Tateishi, have been spreading Japanese culture through Taiko for decades. They founded the school in October 2009 and teach classes in Seattle and Bellevue.

She waxes philosophic about the power of the drums.

“In Japan, we respect the beauty of the transmitted traditions from ancient times creating the “Japanese-style,” because we have so many beautiful things which have the history of over 2,000 years,” Tateishi said. “Even in the martial arts, it is not just victory or defeat, but the mind to respect the opponent, the form of beauty, the heart of respect for superiors have been important.”

At the festival, two main concerts will showcase the Wariki Taiko group from Japan, the Chikiri Taiko group based in Bellevue and the Newport High School drumline.

According to Tateishi, the current group performance form of taiko is a relatively new one. The style was revised and popularized by Daihachi Oguchi of Nagano prefecture in Japan in 1951.

Since then, drummers like the Tateishis have expanded the interest in the percussive arts.

“Now group performances are spreading throughout the world especially in the US, Brazil and Europe,” Asako said. “In the US, there are over 500 active groups and big conferences are held around the US throughout the year.”

A lecture and demonstration of taiko will kick off the festival at 2:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 15 at Bellevue College. The performances themselves will be Saturday, Jan. 16 at 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. Doors open an hour before each performance.

Workshops for drummers at Bellevue Children’s Academy will be held on Sunday, Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to cap off the festival.

Tickets for the concerts are $30 for adults, $18 for students and children. For more information, visit


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