Some words about us
Founded in 2007 by Bruce \”Mui\” Ghent, Maikaze Daiko is dedicated to serving Northern California in the education, performance and development of taiko (Japanese drumming) through performances, workshops, residencies, and classes to the general public.
Maikaze Daiko was founded with the mission to preserve and promote the rich, cultural and artistic heritage of the modern folk art form of taiko, known as kumi-daiko.
An accomplished student of martial arts, choreography, and modern dance, Sensei Bruce “Mui” Ghent studied taiko under Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka.
Dance Mission Theater
We are fortunate and grateful to have a home at Dance Mission Theater, a non-profit, multicultural dance center located in San Francisco’s Mission District.
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San Francisco Taiko Dojo, founded in 1968 by Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka, was the first taiko group in North America, and has been seen as the primary link between the Japanese and North American branches of the art form. Additionally, Tanaka’s belief that learning to play taiko only requires a genuine interest in the art form (rather than Japanese ethnicity or heritage), has greatly contributed to taiko’s success and growth outside of Japan.
Roots of “Tanaka Style” (History & Guiding Principles)
The dojo has been under the leadership of Tanaka-Sensei since he founded it in 1968. Therefore, to understand SFTD’s style, one must first understand “Tanaka style”.
Tanaka was born, raised, and educated in Japan. Not long after he graduated from Chiba University of Commerce (in 1964), Tanaka came to the United States for the first time (in 1967). While in San Francisco, Tanaka attended the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco Japantown. He was somewhat disappointed, however, because it was missing “noise”; the drumming that he was used to hearing at every important occasion in Japan did not exist in San Francisco. Tanaka decided that he would be the one to bring taiko to North America and “make noise just like a Japanese festival”.
Although he had received some basic taiko training in his home town, he had not received any of professional quality, so he returned to Japan and asked to become the apprentice of Grand Master Daihachi Oguchi (the man who combined traditional Japanese drum rhythms with a jazz influence to create the first ensemble taiko group, Osuwa Daiko). Tanaka became the first of Oguchi’s apprentices from outside of the family, and after working hard to learn the principles of the art form, he returned to San Francisco to play in the 1968 Cherry Blossom Festival. Later that year, he opened the San Francisco Taiko Dojo.
However, that initial training with Oguchi-Sensei is not the only influence contributing to the style of San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Tanaka has also trained with Master Susumu Kowase of the more modern Sukeroku Taiko in Tokyo (known for being the first ‘’professional’’ taiko group, and the group that first played taiko on slant stands) , as well as Grand Master Shosaku Ikeda, of the more traditional Gojinjo Daiko (which has been recognized as an Indigenous National Treasure). Tanaka has also trained in hogaku (traditional music of Kabuki dance and Noh drama) under Grand Master Sasazo Kineya, in yokobue (bamboo flute) under Master Kiyohiko Fukuhara, and in martial arts (including Shorinji Kenpo, Nihon-den Kenpo and Tsurugi) under Grand Master Tadao Okuyuma.
All of these elements come together to give San Francisco Taiko Dojo that distinct “Tanaka style”, which that allows audience members of an SFTD performance to not only hear the drums, but feel and be moved by them as well.
While playing taiko, a player is expected to show the following 4 characteristics: kokoro (spirit: self-control and playing from the heart), waza (action: musicianship, skill, and technique), karada (body: physical strength and endurance), and rei(etiquette: respect, courtesy and unity). In staying true to these principles and passing them on to others, Tanaka embraces any chance to work with a new person or group, and will not turn down a potential student because of that person’s gender, ethnicity or past. However, students must be willing to put in the effort to follow through in all of the above principles. Tanaka is reported to never stop pushing his students so that they are always improving, because taiko is not about the end goal of mastering the art form (the art form is constantly evolving, so this goal is not practical anyway); instead, taiko is about the journey that one takes as he or she is learning. These ideals are not unique to San Francisco Taiko Dojo, but Tanaka follows and impresses them upon his students more than many others, such that new players or groups are often introduced to them and made aware of their power because of Tanaka or SFTD, whether directly (maybe through a workshop with Tanaka or one of his past students) or indirectly (possibly after being moved by one of SFTD’s performances).