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History and Achievements of Tsukasa Taiko 5
Tsukasa Taiko has been a pioneer for visual presentation as well, introducing was the kai no kuchi musubi, a classic way to tie the happi obi to Chicago groups during Yoshihashi’s early experiences on the stage. Presently, Tsukasa’s performances require multiple costumes and costume changes. There are several variations of koikuchi (worn with and without harakake), happi, and hachimaki worn throughout a single show. Gintenkai members also wear traditional kimono and yukata. Additionally, Tsukasa is the only group which has implemented the hikinuki technique collaborating closely with Japanese classical dance school Fujima Ryu of Chicago.
Tsukasa Taiko has many other milestone accomplishments. Tsukasa is currently the only community taiko group in Chicago with CD releases, recognizing the changing generations of Tsukasa’s history. The first CD was released in 2006 which highlighted Yoshihashi and a second was in produced in 2011 featuring Amy Homma and the Gintenkai Performance Unit. The most recent release in 2013 was an exclusive CD of Gintenkai Performance Unit.
Tsukasa Taiko has actively participated in public events supporting the recovery from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster around Chicago. This year of 2015 included an event at the Richard J. Daley Center coupled with a photo exhibit chronicling the rebuilding process.
Tsukasa Taiko is distinguished as being the sole Japanese speaking taiko group. Tsukasa emphasizes the preservation of language as part of the cultural legacy. Gintenkai Leader Kiyomi Negi and Gintenkai Captain Kioto Aoki are bilingual, second generation Japanese Americans. Though not all members are of Japanese descent classes are taught in English and Japanese, stressing cultural etiquette in the Chicago setting. As part of the educational outreach Tsukasa also offers lectures, workshops and classes for public schools and universities studying the Japanese language in the Chicagoland and Midwest area.