HISTORY OF SAWAGI TAIKO

 

Sawagi Taiko is the first all-women taiko group in Canada founded in 1990. We are a multi-generational group of women of East Asian and Indigenous heritage, brought together by our shared passion for the Japanese drum. “Sawagi” means “cause a commotion” in Japanese. With thunderous drum beats, stirring vocals, and martial-arts inspired choreography, we share the empowerment and exhilaration we feel through taiko with our diverse audiences. We harness the power of the drum to support feminist and social justice ideals. Our spirit, creativity and respect for one another can be felt both on and off the stage.

 

HISTORY OF TAIKO IN JAPAN

 

Taiko means big drum, and it dates back to creation myths of Japan. Throughout history, the drum has played an integral role in Japanese culture. During the past 40 years, the playing of taiko has developed into an ensemble performing art.

 

NORTH AMERICAN TAIKO

 

Many groups began forming in the late 1960s as young Asian Americans embraced taiko as an expression of their culture and heritage. Seiichi Tanaka, the sensei at the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, gave many of the North American groups their first workshops and taught them the basic skills of taiko. He was instrumental in the spread of taiko across North America. The immigrated form of Asian North American taiko is influenced by many different styles of music- Chinese, Japanese, North American, African, Latin American- as taiko composers have been influenced by all of the musical influences in their contemporary surroundings. Sawagi Taiko's compositions also incorporate many different musical influences, including the Chicago blues, rap, and traditional Japanese folk songs.

 

WOMEN AND TAIKO IN CANADA

 

In 1990, the year Sawagi formed, most of the members were already part of Vancouver's Katari Taiko and had several years of drumming experience. After playing as Katari Taiko at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, the members playing thought it would be most appropriate to form a separate all-women's group. Sawagi Taiko was born! Other all-women's groups in Canada include LOUD! and RAW. Since forming, Sawagi has taken part in several women's music festivals and a large variety of other events, locally and across the U.S.A. Over the years, there have been different group members; however, the group has always been a consistent seven or eight members.

About Us

 
 

What Is Taiko Drumming

Taiko is an ancient Japanese form of percussion using large drums. The drums range in size from roughly a snare drum ("shime"), to drums as large as a car (the "o-daiko"). The most common drum size in taiko is the "chu-daiko" which is the size of a wine barrel.

 
 

Reasons We Play

The arts have always flourished in the immigrant Asian communities. However, these arts have been buried in the stereotypes of Asians as quiet and hardworking but basically mechanical and uncreative. Sawagi Taiko is our vehicle to show the power and creativity of Asian culture, particularly of Asian women. We offer an alternative to the stereotype of Asian women as quiet and demure. As well, the opportunity to work in a group composed only of Asian women is very empowering in North American society.

 
 

Our Taiko Passion

Working from a common cultural basis nurtures a mutually supportive environment in which all members' talents are easily facilitated. In Sawagi Taiko we are exploring a different way of working together artistically, trying to encourage and support each other's creative initiatives. The camaraderie and personal connections that we foster in the group translate into a group intimacy in performance that audiences notice and enjoy.

 
 

Members

 

Catlin Renay

Cat got involved with taiko as a sound technician. Eventually, she was coaxed out from backstage and has now been playing since 1997. For Cat, Sawagi Taiko is an important connection to her Asian heritage. First gig: the Roundhouse in Vancouver. One of her favourite performances was in Alburquerque, New Mexico, at the Kino Theatre.

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Lisa Mah

Lisa has been playing taiko since 1987. She began her training with Katari Taiko, and was one of the founding members of Sawagi Taiko. For Lisa, taiko has been an invaluable part of her development in life as a musician, composer, leader and community member.

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Linda Uyehara Hoffman

Linda has been playing taiko for a long time. Her favourite gig was at the Michigan Women’s Music Festival when Sawagi Taiko performed in 1990. Watching her perform were her teenage daughter, her 75-year-old mother, and a friend (who also brought along her teenage daughter and mother). Together, they were six Asian women spanning three generations amidst a mostly Caucasian, clothing optional crowd. It was an exhilarating and unforgettable weekend.

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Sachiko Yamaguchi

Sachi first became interested in drumming when she was invited to join a taiko workshop in 1987. This was a new yet familiar experience, since Sachi was raised listening to taiko at a summer community festival in Japan. Sachi's first gig was at the Vancouver Japanese Language School. Favourite gigs: the Story Telling Festival in Whitehorse and the Music Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Joscelyn Wong

Joscelyn's first taste of taiko was during her younger years when her dad asked her to listen to a taiko cd he had purchased from Japan. He cranked up the volume & the bass; the vibrations shook the walls & Joscelyn's soul. Years later, her love of anime, Japanese food, art & culture, & Sanrio characters brought her to the Powell Street Festival where she heard Sawagi Taiko for the first time. She attended their workshops, asked to join the group, & have been with them ever since.

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Jeanie Ow

Jeanie heard and saw her first taiko concert as a collaboration with Scottish bagpipes, and was instantly enthralled. Shortly after, an opportunity came up in 2000 to train as a recruit with Sawagi Taiko; she has never looked back since. Her favourite festival to play for is the Powell Street Festival; she can't wait to share her passion for taiko and sense of community with her two children. When not drumming with the amazing women who comprise Sawagi Taiko, Jeanie can be found behind a camera, documenting life. Most images on this site appear courtesy of STUDIOjeanie.

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Helen Kang

It was love at first sight when Helen saw taiko performed by Ragin’ Asian Women in Toronto. When she moved to Vancouver, she joined Sawagi Taiko to experience the drum herself. Taiko brings together her two passions—art and community-building. Plus, every week she gets to drum, sing and laugh with such an amazing and fun group of women!

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Anita Yung

Anita joined Sawagi in 2005, not knowing what she was getting into. Her main intention was to reconnect to her Asian roots, but also because it seemed REALLY COOL from what she found other people doing. While Anita currently takes periodic work hiatus, she always makes it a point to come back to her drumming family.

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Kathy Shimizu

Kathy was inspired to take her first taiko workshop in 1987 after seeing Hinode Taiko perform at Folklorama in her hometown of Winnipeg. After the workshop, she joined the group and her life changed forever. After moving to Vancouver in 1990, she joined Katari Taiko, and then Sawagi Taiko in 1995. Now she dedicates her taiko energy to Sawagi Taiko and the rest of her energy to the Powell Street Festival, WePress, and Asian Americans United working for social change and justice through art and advocacy.

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Anny Lin

Anny has always been drawn to the world of percussion, and started studying African music and dance under Albert St. Albert Smith in 2007. She came across taiko in the summer of 2014, and studied with various taiko professionals throughout North America and Japan. Sawagi Taiko has taught her alot about community and leadership. She is honoured to be part of such a high-spirited group and is thrilled to perform together with them.

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Felice Kwo

Playing music has been a big part of Felice's life for as long as she can remember. And from the moment she first saw taiko, she knew she had to play it. Felice takes great joy in performing with Sawagi Taiko, and sharing her passion for taiko with the community.

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Fin

When Fin first took a workshop with Sawagi, she never dreamed that she would one day have the honour of joining them. For Fin, who has never learned an instrument or performed music, Sawagi is a source of great inspiration and joy, and she counts herself very lucky to play taiko with such a talented and empowering group of women.

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Wenonah Justin

Wenonah Justin is from the Nlaka'pamux/ Nehiyaw First Nations. Wenonah first learnt about taiko during a collaboration workshop in 2008 with Tiqilip Community Singers. When Wenonah hit her first "don", something woke up inside her. She continued to eagerly participate with collaborative performances and Sawagi's workshops. In 2017, she proudly became Sawagi Taiko's first Indigenous member. The Drum is Calling Festival in July 2017, is one of her most memorable performances.

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Jen Quan

Jen joined Sawagi Taiko in 2013. For her, taiko combines her love of music, movement and artistic expression. Jen has fond memories of enjoying taiko at many Powell Street Festivals and was instantly drawn to the powerful connections between the drum, group members and communities. Some of her favourite performances have been collaborations with Salish music ensemble Tzo'kam.

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Get In Touch

Book Sawagi Taiko For An Event

 

Please see our requirements below under CONTACT US.

To book us for a performance please include the PERFORMANCE DETAILS in the message box.

Or email us the required details directly at sawagitaiko@gmail.com

Contact Us

Vancouver, BC

 

(604) - 876 - 7358

 

Performance Details

Event Location

Type of Audience

Length of Performance

Coverage if outside (rain or sun)

Storage for drum bags & cases while on site

Change & warm up room (close to washrooms)

Parking for (approx.) 3-4 vehicles while on site

Minimum stage/performance area: 30ft W x 20ft D

Contact Form
Your message has been sent. Thank you!
 
 
 

 
 

Events

 

Stay tuned for more information about upcoming workshops.
To book us for a performance please fill out the contact form or email us directly at sawagitaiko@gmail.com

Feb 22 2020

Keirokai

Performance at Nikkei Centre, Burnaby, BC

 

Feb 9 2020

Music Video Shooting (Jordan Klassen - “Identivacation”)

Music Video Shoot in Downtown Vancouver, Vancouver, BC

 

Nov 23 2019

Katari Taiko 40th anniversary gathering

Performance at Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall, Vancouver, BC

 

Nov 13 2019

Taiko Workshop for JET

Workshop at Sawagi Taiko Studio, Vancouver, BC

 

Oct 12 2019

BOLDfest

Performance at Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, Vancouver, BC

 

Aug 3 2019

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Jun 5 2019

Invest Canada 19 conference

Performance at Parq Marriot, Vancouver, BC

 

Jun 3 2019

Women Deliver

Performance at Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Vancouver, BC

 

May 25 2019

Surrey Children’s Festival

Performance at Bear Creek Park, Surrey, BC

 

May 24 2019

Surrey Children’s Festival

Performance at Bear Creek Park, Surrey, BC

 

May 23 2019

Surrey Children’s Festival

Performance at Bear Creek Park, Surrey, BC

 

Apr 14 2019

Taiko Workshop

Workshop at Terrace Women's Centre, Terrace, BC

 

Apr 13 2019

Taiko Workshop

Workshop at Terrace Women's Centre, Terrace, BC

 

Jan 19 2019

Keirokai

Performance at Nikkei Centre, Vancouver, BC

 

Nov 6 2018

Health Employees Union

Performance at Hyatt Regency, Vancouver, BC

 

Oct 27 2018

SFU World Arts Centre 7pm Performance

Performance at Japanese Hall, Vancouver, BC

 

Oct 27 2018

Heart of the City 2pm Performance

Performance at Vancouver Japanese Language, Vancouver, BC

 

Oct 3 2018

Vancouver Foundation

Performance at Pinnacle Hotel, Vancouver, BC

 

Sep 1 2018

BOLDFest

Performance at Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, Vancouver, BC

 

Aug 4 2018

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

May 26 2018

Sunshine Coast Celebration of Life

Performance at Roberts Creek Hall, Roberts Creek, BC

 

May 18 2018

Fundraising for Hospital

Performance at Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, BC

 

Apr 15 2018

Taiko Workshop

Workshop at Sawagi Taiko Studio, Vancouver, BC

 

Jan 20 2018

Keirokai

Performance at Nikkei Centre, Burnaby, BC

 

Nov 5 2017

Heart of the City Closing Banquet

Performance at Ukrainian Hall, Vancouver, BC

 

Oct 27 2017

Heart of the City w/Tzokam

Performance at SFU World Arts Centre, Vancouver, BC

 

Sep 24 2017

Walk for Reconciliation

Performance at Strathcona Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Aug 5 2017

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Jul 27 2017

Drum Is Calling Festival

Performance at Larwill Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Jun 8 2017

Asian Heritage Month

Performance at Carnegie Centre, Vancouver, BC

 

May 8 2017

Taiko Workshop (intermediate)

Workshop at Sawagi Taiko Studio, Vancouver, BC

 

May 19 2017

Lee Gunderson birthday party

Peformance at Coast Coal Harbour Hotel, Vancouver, BC

 

May 3 2017

-C2UExpo 2017 — For the Common Good, w/Tzokam

Peformance at SFU World Arts Centre, Vancouver, BC

 

Apr 30 2017

Taiko Workshop (beginners)

Workshop at Sawagi Taiko Studio, Vancouver, BC

 

Apr 4 2017

Boehringer Ingelheim sales conference GIOTRIF

Performance at Sheraton Hotel, Vancouver, BC

 

Jan 21 2017

Keirokai

Performance at Nikkei Centre, Burnaby, BC

 

Jul 30 2016

40th Annual Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver BC

 

May 26 2016

In Collaboration with Joint Effort

Performance at the Fraser Valley Institution for Women, Abbotsford, BC

 

Feb 5 2016

Homeground Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver BC

 

Jan 23 2016

Amenida Seniors’ Community

Performance for the elderly at Amenida Seniors’ Community Surrey, BC

 

Nov 6 2015

Against the Current

Heart of the City Festival, Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall, Vancouver, BC

 

Oct 24 2015

Private Birthday Party

Moberly Arts & Cultural Centre, Vancouver, BC

 

Aug 2 2015

39th Annual Powell Street Festival

Vancouver, BC – Sawagi Taiko set and additional performance as part of the Against the Current collaboration

 

Apr 28 2015

David Lloyd George Elementary school show

Performance at David Lloyd George Elementary School Vancouver, BC

 

Feb 20 2015

Richmond School District Conference workshop & performance

Performance at Cambie Secondary, Richmond, BC

 

Feb 1 2015

Sun, Feb 1st to Sun, Mar 8th

Workshop Series (six Sunday classes), Vancouver, BC

 

Dec 6 2014

Katari Taiko 35th Anniversary concert

Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, Vancouver, BC

 

Nov 2 2014

Heart of the City (collaboration w/ Tzo'kam)

SFU World Arts Centre, Vancouver BC

 

Oct 20 2014

City of Vancouver Celebration of Women in Music in Vancouver

Performance with Katari Taiko, City Hall Council Chambers, Vancouver

 

Oct 4 2014

Sat & Sun, October 4th & 5th, Presented by New Moon Festival Society

Performance with Alcvin Ramos at the Shishalh Longhouse Nation Longhouse, Sechelt, BC and workshop at Frank West Hall

 

Aug 2 2014

38th Powell Street Festival

Alexander Street in front of the Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall, Vancouver, BC

 

Jul 18 2014

Strathcona Business Improvement Association

Performance at Princess + Hastings Street, Vancouver

 

Jun 21 2014

1000 Drummers in BC

Performance at New Westminster (dock), BC

 

Jun 16 2014

National Aboriginal Day (lead-up)

Performance at Carnegie Centre, Vancouver

 

May 24 2014

 

Apr 14 2014

Taiko Workshop

Taiko studio in Vancouver

 

Apr 7 2014

Taiko Workshop

Taiko studio in Vancouver

 

Feb 6 2014

Homeground Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Nov 1 2013

Taiko Roots: in the Heart of the City

Performance at Vancouver Ballroom, Vancouver, BC

 

Sep 28 2013

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre

Performance at Whistler, BC

 

Aug 3 2013

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Apr 15 2013

Japanese Week at Normanna Seniors Home

Performance at Burnaby, BC

 

Mar 7 2013

SFU Open House

Performance at SFU Surrey Campus, Surrey, BC

 

Nov 16 2012

Kindness Concert

Performance at Centre for Performing Arts, Vancouver, BC

 

Sep 25 2012

100 Year Anniversary Women in Policing

Performance at River Rock Theatre, Richmond BC

 

Sep 15 2012

SFU Beedie School of Business Event

Performance at Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC

 

Aug 4 2012

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Jul 4 2011

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Jul 15 2011

Taiko Collaboration

Performance at Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Vancouver, BC

 

May 3 2011

Taikotroniks

Performance at Vancouver Playhouse Theatre, Vancouver, BC

 

Dec 12 2010

In concert with Aliqua

Performance at Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC

 

Jul 31 2010

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Apr 23 2010

David Lloyd George Elementary School show

Performance at Vancouver, BC

 

Nov 6 2009

Vancouver Opera’s 50th Anniviversary

Performance at Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC

 

Sep 22 2009

Vancouver Hilton Airport Hotel

Performance at Richmond BC

 

Aug 1 2009

Japantown Multicultural Celebration

Performance at Vancouver BC

 

Dec 9 2008

BC Nurses Union Conference

Performance at Sheraton Guildford, Surrey BC

 

Nov 18 2008

Miku Restaurant Opening

Performance at Miku Restaurant Vancouver BC

 

Sep 13 2008

New Moon Festival

Performance at Dougall Park, Gibsons BC

 

Aug 17 2008

Regional Taiko Gathering Centennial Theatre

Performance at North Vancouver BC

 

Aug 2 2008

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Jun 21 2008

Lotus Light Charity Society

Performance at Westin Bayshore Hotel, Vancouver BC

 

May 2 2008

Mayday Festival

Performance at POCO Arena, Port Coquitlam BC

 

Apr 8 2008

Elder’s Day

Performance at Native Education Centre, Vancouver BC

 

Feb 2 2008

Crimson Cabaret

Performance at North Shore Women’s Centre, Centennial Theatre, NorthVancouver BC

 

Feb 1 2008

David Lloyd George Elementary School

Performance at Vancouver BC

 

Oct 26 2007

Heart of the City Festival

Performance at Carnegie Centre, Vancouver BC

 

Sep 22 2007

New Moon Festival

Performance at Dougall Park, Gibsons BC

 

Aug 4 2007

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Jul 21 2007

Fraserfest

Performance at New Westminster Quay, New West BC

 

Mar 9 2007

International Women’s Day

Performance at Rime, Vancouver BC

 

Mar 2 2007

BC Government Employees Union

Performance at Coast Plaza Hotel, Vancouver BC

 

Nov 14 2006

Women’s Conference

Performance at BC Government Employees Union, Nikkei Place, Burnaby, BC

 

Sep 22 2006

FUSE

Performance at Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, BC

 

Aug 5 2006

Powell Street Festival

Performance at Oppenheimer Park, Vancouver, BC

 

Jun 9 2006

David Lloyd George Elementary School

Performance at Vancouver, BC

 

May 15 2006

Canadian Health Library Assn.

Performance at Marriott Pinnacle Hotel, Vancouver, BC

 

Dec 7 2005

BC Tourism Conference

Performance at River Rock Theatre, Richmond, BC