The seeds for Stanford Taiko were planted in 1991 in a class taught by Susan Hayase, a former member of San Jose Taiko, as part of a special program of Stanford Workshops on Political and Social Issues (SWOPSI). The class contextualized the art of taiko by discussing its link to the Japanese American experience and inspired Ann Ishimaru (’93, A.M. ’94) and Valerie Mih (’92) to apply for an Undergraduate Research Opportunity grant to research and build a taiko. Stanford Taiko took root in the winter of 1992 after Ishimaru, Mih, and fellow students completed the first drum and invited fellow SWOPSI course graduates and other interested people to form a taiko ensemble at Stanford University. The original 13 charter members were taught basic taiko form in a workshop with San Jose Taiko. They also learned basics from workshops with Susan Hayase, Gary Tsujimoto, and Nancy Ozaki from One World Taiko.


Always searching for opportunities to increase the ensemble’s artistry, Stanford Taiko has studied in master class and workshop settings with leading taiko artists and groups, including Eitetsu Hayashi, Kiyonari Tosha, Kenny Endo, Kodo, and Drum Tao. The group has also premiered works for orchestra taiko ensemble and chorus by leading composers Zhou Long, and Melissa Hui, and for taiko ensemble and chorus by Takeo Kudo, and Grammy Award winning composer Christopher Tin. Stanford Taiko remains the only collegiate taiko group that has ever been invited to perform at Taiko Jam, the premiere concert of the biennial North American Taiko Conference, and has performed at prestigious venues including the UK Taiko Festival, the Thai National Theatre, the Great Wall of China, the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, and Seattle’s Benaroya Hall.