Dedicated to understanding and strengthening Japanese American, Asian American, and Japanese identities, Tsukasa Taiko offers taiko instruction, workshops, educational presentations, and performances that advance the understanding of taiko within the context of the cultural, performing and musical arts. Special workshops also include, shamisen (3-stringed lute), and shinobue (bamboo flute) to all ages and skill levels. It works closely with schools, companies, and organizations to provide special performances and presentations on the history of taiko and Japanese music.
As an active performing group, Tsukasa Taiko presents over fifty shows a year, both locally and internationally, including venues and events such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Steppenwolf Theater, the Chicago Cultural Center, The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Harris Theater, Millennium Park, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Symphony Center, the Smithsonian, and the Malta International Theater Festival in Poland among others.
Tsukasa Taiko’s director, teachers, and staff are all dedicated professionals, recognized as world class, working artists. Director Tatsu Aoki is a renowned musician, composer, and recording artist, who works in traditionally based Japanese music as well as experimental and jazz idioms. Guest artist Noriko Sugiyama has returned to Chicago from Japan, to work with Tsukasa Taiko. Lead performer Kioto Aoki is Chicago’s sole taiko artist, working on solo musical projects and installations while simultaneously maintaining a visual arts practice. With strong leadership and aesthetic vision, Tsukasa Taiko works to cultivate artistic excellence and is positioned to further expand and advance Japanese music in Chicago, and to develop as a cultural beacon for the future.
Tsukasa Taiko is a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest and sponsored in part by:
Collaborators and Friends
Tsukasa Taiko is proud of our collaborative efforts with various aspects of the arts.
Grand Master Fujima Shunojo
Grand Master Fujima Yoshinojo (Rika Lin)
Founder and Director of GenRyu Arts
Fukuhara Hyakkyo (flute)
& Fukuhara Tsuruka (taiko)
Both artists are certified performers from the traditional Fukuhara clan performing actively in the Kabuki - Nagauta tradition as well as other collaborative works.
Born into a traditional Shakuhachi (bamboo flute) family, he started his formal practice in early age under acclaimed grand master Taizan Kawamura.
Born on Chicago’s west side, Dee Alexander is one of Chicago’s most gifted and respected female vocalist/songwriters.
Edward Wilkerson Jr.
Edward Wilkerson Jr. is an internationally recognized jazz musician, composer, arranger, and educator based in Chicago.
She is a member of the Association of the Advancement of Creative Musicians and works in theater, for voice-overs and film, and is a screenwriter and poet.
Yoko Reikano Kimura
Yoko Reikano Kimura performs classical Japanese music in the Yamada School style as well as more contemporary music on the koto and shamisen.
Ayako Kato is a dancer and choreographer from Yokohama, Japan. She trained in classical ballet in Japan, butoh with master Kazuo Ohno, as well as tai chi, Noh theater dance, and modern dance upon moving to the US.
Douglas R. Ewart
Douglas R. Ewart (http://aacmchicago.org/douglas-ewart-0) is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, instrument builder and visual artist.
Nicole Mitchell is a flutist, bandleader, composer, and educator. Mitchell is the founder of the critically acclaimed Black Earth Ensemble and Black Earth Strings, and has been named Jazz Flutist of the Year (2010) by the Jazz Journalist Association, Top Flutist (2010) by Downbeat Magazine, and Chicagoan of the Year (2006) by the Chicago Tribune.
Shubukai presents cultural arts and educational presentations throughout Chicago and the Midwest, and is committed to maintaining and sustaining the core aesthetics of Japanese classical dance in Chicago and the Asian American community. www.shubukai.org
Aoki formed the National Gintenkai Project, teaching advanced players from Gen Taiko the same Gintenkai pieces he teaches Tsukasa’s Gintenkai Unit. Throughout the year, members fly out to play in annual performances for each group. Gintenkai.org
The Miyumi Project
Tatsu Aoki and his band, The Miyumi Project featuring Tsukasa Taiko celebrate the collaboration between African-American and Asian-American jazz artists with a multi-generational group fusing Avant Garde jazz with taiko drumming. www.miyumiproject.com
In 2016, the MIYUMI Project & Tsukasa Taiko was chosen as the official musical presenters for Yoko Ono’s “SKYLANDING” Project here in Chicago and resulted in the Yoko Ono produced SKYLANDING album, an innovative, energetic musical experience. Each successive grouping of musicians over the past two decades have contributed to the unique blending of modern application with traditional sensibility. www.skylanding.com