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Wadaiko TOKARA


In more than two decades since his professional debut, award-
winning Taiko soloist Art Lee has brought his virtuosity, expansive
interpretations, and creative repertoire choices to diverse global

Art Lee is the first and only non-Japanese person to be
crowned Solo Grand Champion of the world's most
prestigious taiko competition in Tokyo.

Art began the study of taiko in 1993 as a student of Master Tiffany
Tamaribuchi, was a prodigy of Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka.
In 1994, Art Lee was scouted by world famous taiko group, Za
Ondekoza to join their year-long Japan Tour sponsored by Japan
Arts. During this tour, Art made his international debut in several
theaters including Suntory Hall, Dramacity, and finally returning to
the U.S. for the tours last concert in New York at Carnegie Hall.
Soon after, Art became a part-time instructor with Tamaribuchi's
group, the Sacramento Taiko Dan until his graduation from
university in 1998.

With permission from Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Art moved to Japan in 1998
and became a student of Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi, who is renowned
as the father of modern taiko drumming.
In addition to performing with the Sacramento Taiko Dan, Art has also
performed extensively with Za Ondekoza and Daihachi Oguchi's elite
performance group - Osuwa Daiko Ashura Gumi.

In 2003, Art created his own professional taiko group, Wadaiko Tokara.
In 2004, Tokara made their performance debut during a three month
international tour throughout North America and Asia. Under the
direction of Art Lee, Tokara yearly tours six months internationally
and in Japan from three to four months.

In 2001, Art Lee received international acclaim for
becoming the first person in the world to be awarded
an artist visa from the Japanese government to teach
Taiko and lead the life of a professional Taiko artist in

Art Lee has become one of the most highly regarded taiko artists
throughout the world of Japanese performing arts as well as one of
less than five non-Japanese taiko artists who have been granted the
title of "Master Taiko Artist" within the taiko community in Japan.
This title was bestowed upon Art Lee by Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi.

Special awards and other highlights to date include:

  • 20th anniversary world tour - 2014

  • Invited to perform at the All-Stars of Japan Taiko Showcase
    in the years 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2012

  • Jerome Composers Commissioning Program Award. 2007

  • Selected as Odaiko Leader for Kansai Super Show. Tokyo Dome. 2007

  • Grand Champion - Tokyo International Taiko Competition. 2005

  • Outstanding Skill Award - Kumamoto Odaiko Competition. 2002

  • Outstanding Skill Award - Fuji Taiko Competition. 2002

  • Top Three Soloist Award - All Japan Odaiko Contest. 2000, 2002

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