North American Taiko Conference/Taiko Jam

In early August, the whole Unit Souzou team, 17 strong — including Michelle and Toru;  the Community Group — Abby, Amanda, Emi, Erin, Gregg, Lois, Michelle, Naomi, Scott, Yasuko, Zoli; and the Professional Ensemble — David, Ian, Vicky, Yuta — traveled to San Diego to be part of the 10th North American Taiko Conference (NATC) in its 20th year.

We were moved and humbled by how we were received as performers for Taiko Jam concert and to participate in so many aspects of the conference.

“For me, as a fourth generation Japanese American who grew up in a predominately White community, it was a unique and overwhelming experience to be at an event of that size where Japanese American people, voices, stories, and leadership were centered and prioritized… I play Taiko as a way of affirming Japanese and Asian American pride in identity, and as a way of reclaiming my own family’s pride in who we are,” wrote Amanda.

NATC provided a unique and vibrant moment for sharing stories, an opportunity for us to deepen our artistic practice, and a space to build stronger bonds as a group. Emi felt closer to everyone and noted, “I am confident that we can take on more challenging performances and experiences based on how we were able to perform at Taiko Jam.”

Scott shared, “It definitely opened my mind to a new way of thinking about taiko and life.” Michelle from the Community Group  was also moved by the experience recalling, “It’s always amazing that 4 days can go by so quickly, yet also feel like a small lifetime – with numerous profound experiences, words, insights, & performances.”