On Monday, June 19th, 2023, I participated in a wadaiko lesson in Shinjuku City, Tokyo prefecture. Wadaiko is a traditional Japanese drum also referred to as taiko. Wadaiko dates back to the 6th century and is very important to Japanese history. Wadaiko mainly features a single drum per person and is played with two large drumsticks. In rare cases, two players may use the same drum.
During my time at the wadaiko studio, I practiced general rhythmic drumming in order to learn melodies and to work on timing. Once the timing was learned, I was taught how to play with more power behind certain beats. By hitting the drum harder on certain beats, the wadaiko creates different sounds similar to using two different drums. After my initial training was completed, I joined the sensei for a few songs where he mimicked a wadaiko by playing on a chair. The songs were the best part of the experience since they brought the initial training full circle. Also, by remembering a few beat patterns, it was very cool to see two wadaiko players would work together to create a song.
My experience at the wadaiko studio was great and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about traditional Japanese music. The concept of wadaiko is also popular among arcade-goers via the Taiko no Tatsujin video game which can be found in most arcades throughout Tokyo and mimics wadaiko playing via a rhythm game similar to Guitar Hero. I played the game at an arcade in Tokyo prior to the wadaiko lesson and definitely could why the wadaiko works so well in video game form.