Yukihiro, Wadaiko Master
“Taiko is an instrument that vibrates in the air. When I hit the Taiko, you can hear the reverberation. And you don’t just hear this with your ears but with your butt, your chest, with your whole body. So I think that Taiko is like the king of instruments that uses and makes vibrations like this.”
Passion is something that is hard to hide, and when Yukihiro plays the wadaiko (taiko for short), a type of Japanese drum, his excitement certainly cannot be hidden. The beating of his drums seem to mimic the beating of his heart; his shouts release his inner pride for taiko; and his body charges with energy with every bang of his drum. Watching Yukihiro, it makes sense that he knew he was born for this art since his first encounter with taiko.
Yukihiro used to be an actor in a small acting company. One night, during a party between shows, there was a surprise taiko performance. “I had goosebumps when I heard the performance”, reminisces Yukihiro about when he fell in love with taiko, “I knew at that point that playing taiko was something I was born to do”.
Yukihiro ended his acting career shortly after to pursue his newfound passion and become a professional taiko player. He plays the taiko with this heart and listens to it with his body. Every reverberation breathes life into him and he works hard to spread that life wherever he goes, including the 16 countries where he has performed taiko. Yukihiro is proud and grateful that he could touch all these places with the sound of taiko.
Now Yukihiro is 67 years old and still as lively as ever. After years of performing, he is ready to focus on passing on his beloved art to younger generations who will keep the art alive. He refers to this art as “taikodou”, “dou” meaning the way or the path as you would for “sadou”, the way of tea, or “kadou”, the way of flowers. Yukihiro wants to pass on the way of taiko to the younger generation and foreigners who want to learn more about Japanese culture.
Yukihiro believes that people practicing the native arts and traditions of their own culture is a powerful thing. Some things can only be done by people from those cultures. For example, he notes that people from abroad could not to make the unique “r” sound that he and other Japanese natives are capable of producing, or the way that Spanish dancers perform flamenco best. Regardless, he loves teaching people of different nationalities his art, because it means getting to touch more lives with the sound of taiko.
Once you see Yukihiro’s passionate taiko performance, you will understand just how much this art means to him.