Taiko drumming: ‘Not just Asian anymore’

Written by

Maz Baba

Maz Baba

This week, 500 international masters and scholars of Taiko have descended on Los Angeles for an unprecedented gathering.

They’re dissecting every aspect of this unique style of drumming and performance, and this weekend in Little Tokyo, they’ll show their stuff in several public performances.

To mark the occasion, we spoke with Masato Baba, considered to be the best Taiko drummer in the United States. A native of Shasta, California and the son of Taiko drummers, Baba now lives and works in Los Angeles, where he is the artistic director of Taiko Project. (He also just married a Taiko drummer, too.)

Baba explained how Taiko actually started in India, moved toward Japan, and has become more populist over the last 50 years; attendees to the gathering this week include participants from New Zealand and Mexico. We talked about the universal appeal of Taiko and how, as Baba says,  it’s “not just Asian” anymore.