The Yamakiya Taiko Club, for more than a decade, has been entertaining and dazzling audiences all around Japan. They have performed at competitions, festivals, and special engagements with their skilled and strong sound. Their unique sound embodies the mountainous spirit of their intimate community.
The Yamakiya Taiko Club, which is from the Yamakiya District of Kawamata Town in Fukushima, Japan, is comprised of students from elementary through high school. After school, the students practice for many hours each week. They know, just as like the steady growth of the rice fields of Japan, that hard work will eventually reap rewards. Since 2003, the Yamakiya Taiko Club has won many awards, most notably, 1st Place in Japan Taiko Junior Competition and the 9th Annual All Japan Creative Taiko Competition.
On March 11, 2011 when the Great earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, the Yamakiya District was unfortunately affected by radiation from the fallout of the Dai-ichi nuclear 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. Many moved to Kawamata Town or Fukushima City, which had lower levels of radiation. All of the students had to quickly adjust to new environments and 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. This group of young people is still performing their style of taiko to show that they are resilient. The Yamakiya Taiko Club is preparing for their first trip to the United States, in April 2012, as a part of the U.S. Japan Council’s TOMODACHI Initiative, which is sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC and spearheaded by JET Program Alumni.