Masumi Izumi

Masumi Izumi, Ph.D. (American Studies), is Associate Professor at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. Masumi's main research interest is cultural history of postwar Japanese American and Japanese Canadian communities. She has published articles on "Historical Memories of Internment in Postwar North America, Rebuilding of Ethnic Japanese Commmunities in Los Angeles and Vancouver," and "Taiko Drumming in North America."

Updated March 2010

culture en ja es pt

A Brief History of Taiko - Part 2

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As in Japan, taiko’s function in the United States took a dramatic turn once it was taken out of a ritualistic context. Putting the drum away after the Bon odori in the summer of 1969, Reverend Masao Kodani of Senshin Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles and a temple member George Abe started playing the drum. Hours later, with blistered and bloodied hands, the two young Nikkei men decided that “it was fun!” They were soon joined by other sansei who were looking for activities that allowed them to express both their heritage and cultural hybridity. They formed ...

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culture en ja es pt

A Brief History of Taiko - Part 1

Percussion is probably the oldest musical instrument in human civilization. In fact, it is older than written language. In Yoruba Land in Nigeria, for example, drums have been used as speech surrogate for thousands of years. Dundun, or talking drum, could be heard from as far as two miles away. With a relay system, the Yoruba people used talking drums as an important means of telecommunication long before the invention of modern technology.

Taiko, or “big drum” in Japanese, also has a long history. Along with other cultural artifacts, taiko most likely traveled from the Asian continent with the migration ...

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