- TOKARA toured continuously for two years throughout 12 countries for their landmark production called "Kazakoshi".
This world tour began with Art Lee's 20th Anniversary in 2013 and culminated in Tokara's 10th Anniversary in 2014.
- Artistic Director Art Lee is the only non-Japanese ever to win the award of Odaiko Grand Champion in the history of the Tokyo International Wadaiko Contest.
He is also the first person ever to be awarded an unsponsored artist visa from the Japanese government to lead the life of a professional taiko performer, teacher and composer in Japan.
Wadaiko Ensemble TOKARA was founded on March 7th, 2004 in Nagano
Prefecture, Japan by Wadaiko Artist Art Lee, who brought together
various taiko and percussion group members to begin the challenge of
intensified training of the mind and body in the strict discipline of
the taiko. Since then TOKARA has become a strong force in the world of
Wadaiko (Taiko Drumming) both in Japan and internationally.
While incorporating arrangements of traditional Taiko pieces into
their performance, Tokara has created an all new style of Taiko, where
electrifying speed and power meet the groups own arrangements of movement which incorporate dance and the circular
fluidity of the Chinese martial arts and aikido.
Tokara's new style of Taiko music also brings rhythm signatures from
other cultures around the world to create a jazzy and exciting style
of taiko music.
TOKARA kicked off its international debut with a six-week coast-to-coast tour of the U.S. and Canada, followed by a two-month
tour in 2005...both to critical acclaim and sold out audiences. TOKARA has since performed as the main attraction in many events,
including: Hamanako Hanahaku All-Japan Expo and the Taipei City 120th Anniversary World Music Festival. Since the groups inception, Tokara tours three to four times a year in
Asia, the U.S., various countries in Europe, Australia, and India, as well as making regular appearances at some of the top Taiko
performances all over Japan..
TOKARA continues the intensive process of continually reinventing new pieces and playing styles in an attempt to further develop the
group’s originality, the members of TOKARA also continue to research and study traditional wadaiko pieces, and to incorporate
arrangements of these pieces into their performances.
In addition to international touring, Tokara has created a unique
education program of bringing Taiko enthusiasts and groups to Japan
for various types of training. The group annually produces the Saiwai
Shimoina Wadaiko Festival, as well as two award-winning intensive
education programs; the INADANI Taiko Drumming Course for beginners
and the TOKARA Wadaiko Bootcamp for intermediate/advanced practioners.
WHAT IS TOKARA?
The name “TOKARA” literally comes from the meaning “touku kara” or “from afar” in Japanese. One meaning of this name
encompasses the past. All members of the group come from different cultures, experiences and walks of life, and have come
together to be both students and teachers of the taiko drum. The past also includes the beginning, the basics, and things traditional.
We must never forget how we started; remember that no matter how much we achieve, we never forget the basics of when we began.
Hence, the group’s repertoire includes many traditional taiko pieces as well as Tokara’s award winning original compositions.
“TOKARA” also encompasses the future in which members of the group strive to become better than what they are with utmost humility
and respect, not only in the “way of the drum”, but in every aspect of life. The realization that, even with 100 years of the most intense
dedication, there is always so much more to learn.
The name “Tokara” is represented by the written character “遙”.
Wadaiko TOKARA Office|
831-1 Kega, Iida City, Nagano Prefecture Japan TEL: (81)265-59-8768