O Nami Taiko

O Nami Taiko

Union City, California, United States

Founded June 1995

Basic Information

    Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church

Background Information

Group's Mission and Motivation

To bring the enjoyment and pleasure of the world of Taiko to anyone who is interested. And the desire to learn this wonderful art form.

With the absence of a Permenant Instructor. O Nami Taiko is constantly thriving to learn, improve, and grow with each event that they particiate in.

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

O Nami translates into great or big wave, and Taiko translates into big drum or drumming.
Umi, the sea, resonates with the power and vitality of life, its soul envelops you, sweeps you into its melody and movement, making you a part of its symphony of sound. The waves reflect a fluid dance of nature, continuously rolling, flowing into infinity.
Come ride the crest of our O Nami wave and experience our musical journey with us.

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

O Nami Taiko began in 1995 as a small outreach group of SACBC's and Buddhist Education Committee (BEC). The group was the brainchild of our then resident minister, Rev. Ken Tanaka, who wanted a vehicle by which to introduce Buddhism to the community and share of its Japanese culture and origin. In the early days, the focus was on a children's group. Church members helped out by building the church's first set of (four) original taiko drums from large wine barrels and cowhide. They worked hard with the kids to build the drums, and these drums, to this today, are still producing the big O Nami sound that resonates in our hearts. Even today, O Nami continues to build drums using wine barrels and various forms of hide (cow, buffalo, etc.). It is our belief that to gain a deeper understanding, appreciation, and respect for this beloved instrument which we play, we must invest of our heart, health, and mind to build and nurture each drum -- sanding, gluing, staining, soaking, stretching, tacking, loving the discipline, emoting a pure and resonant sound.

Over the years, the group has grown from its original size of four members -- today we have close to 20 members, both children and adults. We have both a beginners group as well as an intermediate/performance group.
One of our greatest joys comes from playing and sharing taiko with others, and we look forward to playing for and, perhaps, with you, some day.

List of Founding Members

Jan Kaneko
Sue Robertson
Molly Kitajima
Marie Payne

List of Current Members

Robert K. Kitajima (President)
Amy Hastushi-Hughes (Vice President)
Cheryl Kuhlmann (Secretary)
Molly Kitajima (Treasurer)
Tatsue Alameda
Fran Gin
Vera Leo
Anne Ong
Virginia Ong
Sam Tanizawa
Stella Chin
Anne Ito
Mai Ito
Jean Jone
Meredith Kane
Charmaine Kawaguchi
Helen Leary
Karen Dea
Bev Lum
Craig Matsuzaki

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

Every First and Third Sunday, The group takes time out to teach the Darhma Sunday School Children ages 2-6 years old to learn the basics of Taiko.

Every September we have open enrollment for beginning classes of basic Taiko. With a minimum 12-week curriculum. Of which, the senior players devote their time to instruct. Feel free to contact us for more information on when the next Beginners series class will begin.

Performances, Recordings, Publications

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

SACBC Annual Japanese Heritage Bazaar (1996-2005)
Haru Matsuri & NorCal Taiko Expo/Morgan Hill (1997-2005)
SACBC Annual Bon Odori (2000-2005)
SACBC Annual Crab Feed (2001-2005)featuring the groups first year students.
Asian Pacific Islander Coast Guard Celebration (2001-2005)
Oakland Chinatown Asian Heritage Summer Festval (2001-2005)
Play at Various Local Schools Around the East Bay Area.

Instructors, Teachers & Mentors
List the instructors, teachers and mentors who have worked with the ensemble.

Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka
Kenny Endo
PJ & Roy Hirabayashi
Keiko Hinoki

Molly Kitajima
Amy Hatsushi-Hughes
Anne Ong

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

San Jose Taiko

Signature Works
Please include title, composer, date of composition, special reason(s) for composition, and what the work represents to the group.

Nakama No Uta, O Nami Taiko/Keiko Hinoki, June 2003, With the help of our mentor that the group could create a peice all their own.
Arashi Taiko, O Nami Taiko/Keiko Hinoki, June 2004, Our second attempt to create a complex composition.


Molly Kitajima
32975 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City,CA 94587


2004 Group



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A project of the Japanese American National Museum

Major support by The Nippon Foundation