Welcome to St. Olaf Taiko!

Welcome to the official website for St. Olaf College's Taiko Drumming Group. This website's purpose is to serve as a collection of past performance video clips, images, future performances information, and member resources. If you have any general questions regarding our Taiko group, or any issues with this website, please contact taikopr@stolaf.edu.

About Taiko Drumming and the St. Olaf Group

From Wikipedia: Taiko has grown in the United States since coming over from Japan in the late 1960s.

The first American taiko group, San Francisco Taiko Dojo, was formed in 1968 by Seiichi Tanaka, a postwar immigrant who studied taiko in Japan and brought the styles and teachings to America. A year later, a few members of Senshin Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles were putting away a drum after an obon festival and decided to just have a jam session and after several hours of playing, they decided to form a group. Shortly after, Kinnara taiko was formed. In 1973, the third American taiko group, San Jose Taiko, was formed by a group of young Japanese Americans in the San Jose Japantown. In the 1990s, there was a new development in taiko in the United States. In 1990, students at UCLA formed the first intercollegiate taiko group, Kyodo Taiko. In 1992, the second and third collegiate groups were formed, Stanford Taiko at Stanford University and Jodaiko at the University of California, Irvine. Since the formation of these three groups, collegiate groups have formed all around the nation. It's estimated that about 36 collegiate taiko groups and about 300 taiko groups in general exist in the United States today. From these student groups have proceeded several American professional groups, such as On Ensemble and TAIKOPROJECT.

Our own St. Olaf Taiko Group was formed in 2004 at the beginning of the year. Our group has strong ties with Mu Daiko, a local professional Minneapolis Taiko Group. Iris Shiraishi was our original sensei (teacher), and still has workshops with us annually. Our group has always been student-led and part of the St. Olaf community.

Our members meet twice weekly—one practice on Friday afternoons from 2:45PM* to 5PM in the Lion's Pause (or Viking Theatre if needed), and members also choose to practice during one of two sectional times. During the fall semester, kohai (the name we use for first-time taiko players) will begin to learn Taiko and our songs through close instruction by sempai (more experienced members). Due to the commitment that taiko takes, we encourage that interested students join within the first month of practices, or wait until interim. Second semester is full of fun performances, learning new songs, and developing oneself as a taiko artist.

*: Members who have class from 2-3PM are not expected to arrive at practice until ~3:10.

Our Current Members

Our group currently is 19 members strong. Here's our crew as it stands right now:

Seniors '14:

  1. Jess Bradshaw Logistics
  2. Christine Dietz
  3. El Jagaraj Vice President
  4. Rebecca Turchan President
  5. Irene Yuan

Juniors '15:

  1. Max Johnson Drum Master
  2. Emily Patterson
  3. Samantha Rudy Treasurer
  4. Amanda Steimle PR Chair

Sophomores '16:

  1. Renato Barraza
  2. Rachael Daley
  3. Hawken Rives Webmaster
  4. Irham Yunardi

You could be on this list! Let us know if you have any questions via email or in person - we're always eager to train new recruits of any class year! If you are interested in joining, please email us at taiko@stolaf.edu — in most cases, you'll need to be on campus during interim and able to dedicate a lot of time to catch-up.

*Denotes members currently studying off-campus for the semester

St. Olaf Taiko Drumming Songs

Below is information about the songs that we perform on and off campus. These songs also have videos that you can watch!


Jouba is a song created by Steven Braun, once President of our club. The song is quite catchy, and is at times reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda.


Ayame is a song created by our very own Olivia James. The song utilizes an interesing chu and odaiko combination, something unique to the rest of our songs.

The piece is dedicated to Iris Shiraishi as a way to thank all of Mu Daiko for the experience they gave Olivia during her years as a student. Incorporating a variety of movements, its aim is to emphasize layers and overlapping parts.


Matsuri is the first song that our Kohai, or first-year performers, learn in our Taiko group. Translated to English, the name means Festival.

The song has distinct parts, starting with kiai of each player. Then the Chu players play the main parts of the song, which total to four main verses. Odaiko players then play the same main phrase of Matsuri by themselves. All players join in for the bridge, solos are performed, if any, and then all players play the bridge and song one more time. And that's Matsuri in a nutshell!


Raku means fun in Japanese, and it holds to its name. Originally developed by Shidara Taiko, Raku is fun to play and to watch.

Raku is a song originally developed by Shidara Taiko, taught to the St. Olaf group by Mu Daiko. It's a very laid-back piece, and is always a member and crowd favorite.


Yuubinkyouku he no Tabi (Journey to the Post Office), was our first-ever original St. Olaf Taiko song, created by Steven Braun. It has a similar feel to Matsuri, but has slightly more energy and emphasis on form. Yuubinkyouku utilizes two fue (flute) solos, along with an added crescendo by Odaiko in some sections.


Ouichi is a song created by the famous taiko-master Kenny Endo, and our group is lucky enough to be able to play it. It's a song with a lot of energy. It's amazingly fun to play—but also exhausting. Ouichi can be played either in a solo or a paired formation.

Bisuketto to Kiken

Bisuketto to Kiken (Biscuits and Danger), is a St. Olaf Taiko original song, composed by our own Steven Braun. The best parts of this song are the odaiko solo, and the switching of drum positions during the song.


Omiyage is an open-source song, originally from TAIKOPROJECT. In Japanese, Omiyage means gift or souvenir. It's our gift to you! Our group was taught by Joe Mignano of Mu Daiko. It's a spectacular song.