** THIS PAGE IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION / MAINTENANCE **
History and Achievements of Tsukasa Taiko 1
Tsukasa Taiko is currently one of the largest and most active community taiko groups in the Chicagoland area. Despite being one of the younger organizations, Tsukasa has over 50 professional and community performances throughout the year. The last decade has seen Tsukasa become a strong pioneering force, leaving behind a legacy that changed and continues to change the standards of the community taiko group.
Tsukasa Taiko was founded in 1996 by Hide Yoshihashi with the help of Wakayagi Shiyu. Shiyu, a master of Japanese classical dance had founded her own taiko group Waka Daiko under her Wakayagi Ryu dance school. Yoshihashi later created Tsukasa Taiko 司太鼓, taking kanji from Shiyu’s name司友 and started to teach small weekly classes at the Wakayagi residence. He led community performances with his students, most notably at the Bon Odori Festival at Mitsuwa Marketplace when it was formerly known as Yaohan-. This summer festival became Tsukasa Taiko’s first annual event.
The birth of Tsukasa Taiko broke new ground in the Chicago taiko community, incubating the idea of independence. Before Tsukasa, community taiko was associated with Buddhist Temples as membership was offered exclusively to those within each respective temple. Tsukasa Taiko became the first private taiko group independent of these exclusive organizations. The inclusiveness attracted many students to Tsukasa Taiko including some of the current core members. And consequently, Yoshihashi became the first independent taiko drummer. Encouraged by his success, Yoshihashi’s colleagues began creating their own groups. Many of these groups are still active today. Yoshihashi was a catalyst for this trend and an important contributor to Chicago taiko culture.