Taiko literally means 'drum' in Japanese, but can also be used to refer to the modern style of Japanese drumming ensembles. Taiko have been an important part of Japanese culture for hundreds of years. Its origins lie in the many temples and shrines throughout Japan where they are played during ceremonies and festivals. Throughout history Taiko drums have also been used in kabuki and noh theatre, dance and music. It is only since the 1950s that Taiko has become a performing art in itself known as 'kumi daiko', and spread throughout the world with the help of professional touring groups like Ondekoza and Kodo. Japan currently has between 10,000 - 15,000 Taiko groups playing many different styles. Taiko is now gaining popularity in the UK, with groups emerging nationwide and wowing audiences with this dynamic performing art.
About Kaminari UK
Kaminari UK was founded in York in 2008 after a few wokshops with Liz Walters of Tamashii Daiko. Mary Murata had organised the workshop and following that, a place to meet up to practice what we had learnt. A few of us from York and Leeds started meeting regularly and some months later Kaminari UK was born. We practiced weekly on upturned bins and old floor toms from kit drum sets, then slowly started to build up our Japanese drums (wadaiko). After we played at a couple of low key events and started to gain confidence in playing to an audience, we practiced hard to improve our skills and style. We are mainly self taught, but with various members traveling far and wide to attend workshops. Now we have performed at a wide range of events big and small including festivals at Sheffield Arena and St James' Park in Newcastle, annual Japan days, fundraisers, private parties and weddings etc.. We now have a full theatre show, where we collaborate with Michael Graham who plays the Shamisen and Koto (Japanese stringed instruments), that we have performed at theatres and other venues across the North of England. We have an extensive repertoire which range from traditional Japanese festival pieces, to rhythms we have adapted from other cultures, to our own contemporary pieces composed by group members. In the past we have also performed and conducted workshops at many schools, giving pupils an opportunity to experience playing Taiko and learn a little about Japanese culture. The teaching side of things is now mainly run by Jared who has his own 'Tengu School of Taiko'. There are also informal classes now being held in the Darlington area by Chris under the name of 'Yodaiko'. Our group now continually strive to improve our skills and performance through regular training and practice, with some of us traveling as far as Japan to learn more.
The Kaminari Performers
Mary Murata Founding member, Mary lived in Japan for 15 years, but developed her passion for Taiko several years after her return to the UK. She is currently a Japanese language teacher at York St John University and also runs the York Japan Society.
Jared Hardwick Founding member, Jared has had an interest in Japanese culture from an early age. Starting in the martial arts at age 8 with Judo, and continuing on with Bujinkan Ninjutsu, Iaido and Naginata-do. This eventually led to an interest in Taiko, which has now developed into his full time job with running the Tengu School of Taiko.
Sarah Schallamach Founding member, Sarah has been a keen Taiko player from the start. Her skills as a GP are always good to have at hand in the rare event of any injuries!
Steve Hill Founding member, Steve has a background in African drumming (Djembe) both as a performer and teacher, but was quick to turn his hand to Taiko, with his wealth of experience with rhythms and percussion. Steve is also a witty guy which often comes across when introducing our pieces on stage.
Tony Jacques Tony joined in 2009 and quickly developed his Taiko skills to become a key player for the team.
Chris Wright Chris joined in 2010 and as well as being a key player, has also started teaching informal classes in Sadberge near Darlington, which has resulted in his own group called Yodaiko.
Anna Plews Anna joined in 2012 playing flute for for a couple of our pieces. With the skills she has as a western flute player, she soon progressed to playing the Japanese Shinobue (bamboo flute), which was integrated more into our performances. Anna soon became more interested in the percussion side of things, and quickly honed her skills on the chappa, atarigane and gong. After spending more time learning pieces on the Taiko drums, she started performing on them from early 2016.