Taiko, Japanese drumming, has been a part of Japanese culture for centuries, played at festivals, ceremonies, and large-scale events. But some like to play it recreationally. The team at Asano Taiko U.S. teaches a variety of taiko classes, with one group dedicated to older adults who are not afraid to get out of their comfort zone and learn something new. Keiro interviewed one of the participants, Steve, about his experience playing taiko.

Better Late than Never

Steve has been taking classes at Asano Taiko U.S. for the last decade with his wife. When Steve and his wife first started taiko, it was in a group class that had mostly younger players. Although he enjoyed coming to the class, he sometimes found it to be difficult to keep up with the group. He said that the older adults felt as if they were holding back the class because they were not able to pick up the drumming right away.

group of people playing taiko drums

About five years ago, Julia, an instructor at Asano Taiko U.S., created the Golden Taiko class. This class is for older adults who want to learn how to play, and it is taught at an easier pace for anyone to join in on the fun. Since the creation of the class, Steve has not only been able to develop his taiko skills and learn new songs, but he has also brought some of his friends to join. Steve is grateful that taiko has allowed him to cultivate stronger relationships with his peers as they bond over their common interest in taiko. 

Steve said, “Being with the group and seeing the interaction that’s going on is a lot of fun. And the performances are interesting too!” The Golden Taiko class performs about twice a year and he looks forward to performing on stage in front of people. 

Physically and Mentally Important

Attending the class goes beyond learning how to play taiko. It also has a very social aspect to it. The class begins with twenty minutes of stretching together in a circle where they talk and laugh as they warm up which helps them bond with each other. Even when they are on their water break, they gather around in the hallway of the studio and converse with each other. Everything is done as a group when they are at the studio for ninety minutes out of the day.

Steve commented, “It is encouraging to be around [the group], and by doing performances, it is equally exciting.” Along withside from feeling connected with others, Steve has also noticed that his memory has improved. He said that his dad at his age already had a symptom of dementia, and experienced sundowning, a state where the person can become intensely distressed, and agitated or have hallucinations or delusions late in the afternoon to evening time (Alzheimer’s Society, 2021).

man in black tshirt playing taiko drums

However, Steve currently does not have any symptoms of cognitive decline and believes that taiko has helped him to be cognitively healthy. Since he has been taking the class, it forces him to get out of the house in the morning and helps him have a mental break from everything that he is involved in. 

Because Steve truly enjoys playing taiko, he takes his time to practice at home and does his best to remember the strikes and patterns. Although he admits that it is oftentimes a lot to remember, it challenges him to work towards a healthy quality of life. When asked how long he is planning on playing taiko, Steve said with a chuckle, “As long as the legs hold on.”

If you are interested in learning more about Asano Taiko U.S., visit