Patti Jo “PJ” Hirabayashi is among the most prominent women taiko players in the United States. Born and raised in Northern California, she attended Cal State Hayward where she became involved in Asian American movement activities before transferring to UC Berkeley. After graduation, she spent a year living in Japan before returning to San Jose where she was a graduate student in Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University. While there, she became acting director of the school’s Asian American Studies Center. She wrote her master’s thesis about the future of San Jose’s Japantown.
Hirabayashi joined San Jose Taiko in January 1974 as a charter member of the group. She is now the creative director of the ensemble, and she draws inspiration from the Asian American civil rights movement. She performs, trains, teaches, develops repertoire, tours, holds public workshops and conducts school outreach programs.(January 26, 2005)