Tatsumaki Taiko

Tatsumaki Taiko

Berkeley, California, United States

Founded Founded in 1998

Basic Information

    We are a collaborative group with no official affiliation to any organization. However we are fortunate to have friends at Kawada Taiko (Fukushima, Tokyo) who give us advice and technical assistance. Especially regarding taiko construction.
    Director, with other shared roles & responsibilities.
    To play the perfect solo & have fun doing it.

Background Information


To teach, perform, and share the excitement and energy of playing taiko with all those who love the beat.

Describe the ensemble's organizational structure and philosophy, including leadership structure, membership policy, and instructional process.

"Rhythm, Motion, Sound & Spirit" Tatsumaki Taiko's name comes from the Japanese word for "whirlwind." Literally translated "tatsu - maki" means "spinning dragon." The spinning dragon symbolizes the spirit and energy of Tatsumaki Taiko's drumming.

During performances we strive to create the atmosphere of "matsuri" or Japanese festivals, and bring people together through the sound of the taiko. Though we remain faithful to taiko traditions, we also try to reinterpret them in new ways. Creating an original style of taiko that reflects the character, creativity, and diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Our group consists of a performing group, a more casual "community group." We also teach short-term "introductory" classes throughout the year to recruit new members.

Group History
Describe how, where, and why the ensemble was founded. What was its inspiration?

Tatsumaki Taiko was founded in the spring of 1997 by Phil Pickering. Phil had just left "Taiko Spirit," a group he co-founded with some former San Francisco Taiko Dojo students in 1995.

Initially intended as a children's group, Tatsumaki Taiko soon grew to include an adult performing group. Takashi Sugimoto and Don Jagust were the first adults to join, and their contribution to organizing and supporting the group has be essential to our success.

Phil has played western drums since Junior High School, and he has played in rock, blues and R&B; bands. His inspiration to play taiko came after seeing performances by "Ondekoza" and "Kodo." In 1987, during a trip to Japan, he met the owner and instructors of Kawada Taiko. Their generosity and enthusiasm about taiko inspired him to start studying taiko upon returning to San Francisco.


Phil Pickering
Takashi Sugimoto
Don Jagust


Our membership changes over time, some of the current members:

Phil Pickering

Holly Ackely

Susan Sasaki

Naomi Lucks

Karen Matsuura

Claire Thompkins

Jess Toubol

Jess Cameron

Elise Prowse

Betsy Thomas

Joy Sigmon

Will Clemens

many former members have relocated and are playing taiko with other groups. Gambatte.

(i.e. ethnicity, generation, average years of experience, musical backgrounds, and motivation for playing)

Due to the amazing diversity of the Bay Area, we have members of all cultural backgrounds. In addition, being based in a university town gives us a unique opportunity to meet people from all over the world. We frequently have visiting members from places such as Hawaii, China, India, Japan, France, and Israel. Our membership is open to all.

Description of the group's community - regional, ethnic, social, etc.

The San Francisco Bay Area, and Northern California.

Describe two of the biggest changes that have characterized the group's development since its founding

Having to relocate 3 times in 1 year, in order to find an appropriate rehearsal space.

Having new members learn our song repertoire, while working on new compositions.


List a selection of your regular performance venues (for example, Denver Sakura Matsuri, Seabrook obon, business conventions, Manzanar Pilgrimage, Maui Marathon, etc.)

We perform for many public and private events around Northern California. Everything from fundraisers and corporate parties to schools and weddings.
Here is a sample list:
Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA
Berkeley Elementary Schools, Berkeley, CA
Berkeley Kite Festival, Berkeley, CA
Book Builders West Fundraiser - Takara Sake, Berkeley, CA
Breast Cancer Fund "Heroes Tribute," San Francisco, CA
Florin Summer Bazaar, Sacramento, CA
Lunar New Year Celebration, Alameda, CA
Menlo College International Day, Atherton, CA
Multicultural Week, Irvington High School, Fremont, CA
NorCal Taiko Expo, Morgan Hill, CA
Oakland / Fukuoka Sister City fundraiser, Oakland, CA
Oakland Chinatown Festival, Oakland, CA
On Lok/Self-Help for the Elderly Benefit, San Francisco, CA
San Francisco AIDS Walk, San Francisco, CA
Satsuki Arts Festival, Berkeley, CA
Shotokan Karate Tournament, El Cerrito, CA
Solano Stroll, Berkeley/Albany, CA
Sonoma State Asian Heritage Night, Ronhert Park, CA
St. Mary's High School Diversity Celebration, Berkeley, CA
Stanford University Children's Day Festival, Palo Alto, CA
Taiko 10 Concert, 2003 Taiko Conference, Sacramento, CA

List the instructors, teachers and mentors who have worked with the ensemble.

Our members have participated in a variety of taiko workshops and classes conducted by Kawada Taiko (Seki Sensei), Kodo / Kasa (Saito Eiichi), Marco Liendard, Riley Lee, and Kenny Endo, to name just a few.

Taiko Collaborators
List a selection of taiko players or groups that have collaborated with the ensemble.

Most of our compositions and arrangements are collaborative efforts, so our members bring their own influences to our music. We draw on everything from traditional "wa daiko," western, African, and Latin drumming to flute, dance and martial arts. All those ingredients, both taiko & non-taiko add to our mix.

List a selection of publicly accessible audio and/or video recordings featuring the ensemble.

Only self-produced copies only at this point.

List a selection of articles, master's theses, dissertations, or other publications written about the ensemble.

Web site (www.tatsumakitaiko.com) with general information about our group and taiko, as well as wine barrel taiko making instructions. Our taiko-making guide has been translated into German & Japanese.

Describe the ensemble's musical and performance styles.

From traditional to contemporary, Tatsumaki Taiko plays a variety of different styles. Influences of "matsuri" (festival) styles from songs like "Kokura Gion Daiko," "Buchi Awase Daiko," and "Matsuri Daiko" - to more challenging pieces such as "Miyake Daiko." Combined with original compositions and "kumi daiko" (drum kit) style playing, give us an opportunity to explore both old and new directions in taiko drumming.


Phil Pickering
tatsumaki@email.com -or- taikousa@lmi.net
(510) 548-3508


No videos


No audio


No events



Journal feed
Events feed
Comments feed





プロジェクト企画 全米日系人博物館