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. 

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Tsukasa Taiko is a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest and sponsored in part by:

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Collaborators and Friends

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Tsukasa Taiko is proud of our collaborative efforts with various aspects of the arts.

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Collaborative Projects

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Shubukai Fujima Shunojo and Fujima Yoshinojo
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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

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National Gintenkai

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

toyoakis shamisen Chizuru Kineya and Tatsu Aoki
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Toyoaki Shamisen

Chicago’s renowned musician, Tatsu Aoki, presents his new work of a 300-year legacy of Japanese cultural arts. toyoakimoto.org

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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

'I want the sky to land here to cool it, and make it well again.

Sky Landing

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

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Educational Program

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Tsukasa Taiko Educational Program Scene
The mission of Tsukasa Taiko is to preserve and pass on the traditional concepts of taiko as a cultural legacy and to utilize these concepts in expanding and evolving the taiko form. One of the ways is through educational programming. Read More…

Beginners Workshop

Tsukasa Taiko offers taiko classes and workshops throughout the year as well as the opportunity to learn other traditional Japanese musical instruments, including the shamisen (3-string lute) and shinobue (bamboo flute).