"All efforts to become more human are ultimately a struggle for peace."


Creating peace is to forge ahead when you would rather stand aside and avoid the inevitable pain of active engagement. The struggle always begins with your self. This is true more today than at any time in human history. So many people are paralyzed by a sense of alienation. They are constantly bombarded by shallow distractions, and are surrounded by strangers. So many people surrender to this disconnected world. They seek passive entertainment, and follow addictions of both body and of mind to numb themselves from the hopelessness of complete alienation. They are, to quote Sogyal Rinpoche, “Living Corpses”

I do not like to be a living corpse…. I would face the hardships, exhaustion, and frustrations of struggle before resigning myself to a living grave. All efforts to become more human are ultimately a struggle for peace.

I have chosen Taiko drumming to feel more alive, and I would have others join me to be part of an active life enhancing community of drummers. I am looking for people who feel as I do. Meanwhile, I keep doing what I need to do. I believe Carl Jung’s words. “No matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you do your work truly and conscientiously, unknown friends will come and seek you.”

We live in a modern world filled with words. Children are encouraged to express their feelings using words. With the heavy emphasis on science and logical mathematical learning in U. S. culture, much language is structured as formulae to lead to objective thoughts devoid of emotional content. I sometimes sense that the words the speaker uses and the speaker are not connected. We are encouraged to think rationally rather than emotionally. When I am in a rational mood for too long, I crave something fundamental to pull me back to know who I am, what I am, and what I want in life. Taiko drumming prevents me from drowning in a pool of alienation, and it keeps me aligned with a sense of wholeness.

I am not saying that rational thinking is wrong. We need both rational and emotional approaches to understand ourselves and the world around us. How to balance these two is the challenge we face.

Wrapped in the large booming voice of Taiko, I am lost to the deep soft sound that resonates from the drum. The sound of taiko gives me a sense of “awe”. Creating this awesome sound is very hard. It requires physical training and absolute concentration to be in right position, right form and right mind. The power of taiko synchronizes the power of life in me. When this happens, I feel alive.

There are many roads to peace. The artist that works to reach out to the community is also an activist for peace. Art is a passage to reach cultural profundity….. to provide a context in which people find and create meaning in their lives. I chose Taiko as my personal and social expression to rediscover the emotional vibrancy of my native culture. I grew up in a traditional farming village that placed value in community events, and expressed itself in many of the art forms associated with Japan. As a child, I was steeped in group activities and felt connected and appreciated. Even though we were poor and life was harsh, I felt centered and at peace. As an adult, I wish to return to that wonderfully grounded feeling.

My artistic vision begins with the sound of Taiko, but includes other Japanese art forms such as dancing, chanting, singing, folk games, story telling, Japanese symbolism and mythology.

I am especially interested in folklore and mythology because both are grounded in archetypes that express the commonality of human experience. When we read familiar stories or hear them, the doors of childhood spring open. In our performances we include the elements of mythology, dance and song combined with nature sounds and creative lighting to foster people’s imagination….. to draw them away from the bounds of rational thought.

My goal in presenting the unity of various Japanese disciplines is to reach common ground of what is essentially human – that which lie underneath “culture”. The use of mythology and folklore brings a realization that there are patterns and latent elements within these remarkably similar stories, found in all cultures, that address essential human emotions. These patterns touch deep emotional chords within our unconscious. I believe this vast realm of the psyche tapped by various art disciplines is something all humans share. Art is unique, yet it is universal because of the roots we start with…the emotional content of all human experience.

The nature of art takes a form of active participation. The culmination of art is when something happens that connects the artists’ work with a wider community, in such a way, that the line between the observer and the observed is blurred. The audience is no longer separated from the art. These incredible feelings of shared experience are life affirming. This is bread for the soul … sustenance to help people continue with their own struggles for peace.