The iconic and expressive thunder of the taiko drums celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Taiko Legacy with a bang in two programs directed by multi-instrumentalist and media artist Tatsu Aoki, Saturday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (220 E. Chicago Ave.). The 15th Anniversary celebration also includes a special “Chindonya” (Street Troubadour) workshop Sunday, Dec. 9, 5:30 p.m.

Tsukasa Taiko is a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest and the Japanese American Service Committee of Chicago and is supported in part by the Illinois Arts Council, the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Alphawood Foundation, CDH. P.C, JCCC Foundation, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Field Foundation of Illinois. 

Taiko’s Reduction concerts are a rich, erudite counterpoint to mainstream taiko drumming usually seen on contemporary stages. They find roots in the authentic origins of taiko, but continues to expand and deepen the artistic palette drawing on the rich traditions of classic and contemporary jazz. This year’s presentation features special segments from director Tatsu Aoki’s renowned Basser Live concerts commemorating his achieving kanreki, or his 60th birthday. In Japan, this significant birthday celebrates the completion of one Zodiac cycle and is a kind of a “second birth” and time to reflect on the past, as well as look ahead towards the future.

Joining the drummers in what will most certainly be a memorable kanreki ritual will be Chicago’s jazz artists Hamid Drake (drummer and percussionist), Michael Zerang (percussionist) and Nicole Mitchell (flutist/ composer) plus Chizuru Kineya (shamisen) and chindonya performer Yasushi Shimazaki.

​Taiko Legacy is a popular perennial celebration of Japanese cultural heritage featuring leading contemporary performers. Taiko literally means “drum,” and Taiko Legacy is known for its thunderous sound and stunning, stylized choreography. Joining the Tsukasa Taiko ensemble will be featured guests Melody Takata and the GenRyu Arts of San Francisco, classical music grandmasters from Japan, Chizuru Kineya and chindonya (traditional troubadour) artist Yasushi Shimazaki, leader of the 5:30 p.m. workshop.

Additionally, Taiko Legacy guest artist, Yasushi Shimazaki will present a special hands-on workshop tracing the origins of chindonya culture and explaining various instruments and routines, as well the theatrical implications of being a chindonya in today’s time.

​Chindonya is a type of Japanese street musician hired to advertise for local shops and businesses. Believed to be part of Japanese culture for more than 150 years, these elaborately dressed performers parade through the streets playing music and singing to gather attention for their clients. Chindonya was especially popular around WWII and today the tradition is experiencing something of a resurgence in Japan.

 For more information about the performance or for tickets, visit

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Japanese Taiko Drum Ensemble Tsusako Taiko in Taiko Legacy (photo courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago).

Tsusako Taiko Bringing Power of Japanese Taiko to Museum of Contemporary Art