The Kennedy Center

Yamakiya Taiko Club


For more than a decade, the Yamakiya Taiko Club has been entertaining and dazzling audiences all around Japan at competitions, festivals, and special engagements. Their strong, original sound embodies the land and mountainous spirit of their intimate community.

The Yamakiya Taiko Club, from the Yamakiya District of Kawamata Town in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, comprises students from elementary through high school. There are three teams: Kodama, the beginning students, Suzaku, the intermediate students, and Yamazaru, the experienced members. The students practice after school for many hours each week. They know, just as laboring in the rice fields of Japan will produce a bountiful harvest, their hard work and constant practice will reap rewards. Since 2003, the Yamakiya Taiko Club has won many awards, most notably, 1st place in the Japan Taiko Junior Competition and the 9th Annual All Japan Creative Taiko Competition.

On March 11, 2011, when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the Yamakiya District was unfortunately affected by radiation from the fallout of the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. In May of 2011, the Yamakiya District of Kawamata Town was evacuated due to high levels of radiation. All the residents, including the students of the Yamakiya Taiko Club, moved from their homes to Kawamata Town or Fukushima City, which had lower levels of radiation. All of the students had to quickly adjust to new environments and new schools. The students of Yamakiya Junior High School are now meeting in the lunchroom of an elementary school in Kawamata Town. It is unclear if, and when, they will be able to return home.

Despite the circumstances, the Yamakiya Taiko Club is still together. Grounded in tradition, this group of young people is still performing their creative style of taiko to show they are resilient. Through their music, they want audiences to feel the story they are telling, including their own moving story.

Watch Past Performances

Video 4/16/2012: Yamakiya Student Taiko Club

The student drummers, ages 12-20, have won first prize in a number of Japanese national competitions. Part of the 2012 National Cherry Blossom Festival.

  Yamakiya Taiko Club