On planning our trip to Japan we wanted to experience Japanese culture, but with three kids in tow weren’t so keen on a sit down tea ceremony. With Steph being a music teacher, something musical made sense so we got going on some homework on what we could do in Japan. We discovered Wadaiko or Taiko drumming lessons available as a group or exclusively.
Booking was really simple, we found Taiko Labs online and contacted them via email and Facebook for good measure. They were quick to respond, very accommodating and were able to fit our family of 5 in to a private lesson that suited our travel itinerary. They actually have locations all over Japan, and we took our lesson in Asakusa, Tokyo. It is also very close to the Sensoji Temple as well as some shops and restaurants (Asakusa is a great location) so it ended up being a great day out altogether. Lessons run for around an hour, and you can join a group class if not wanting one on your own.
In our private lesson we were each allocated a drum, and given some pointers on how to play it. This then transitioned into some basic patterns, which over the course of 30 minutes had us playing traditional Japanese music as a group. Everything was well explained, we even had an additional translator on hand if needed, but out Japanese language practice came in handy. Good practice for conversation and pronunciation!
For our final performance we were allocated a traditional Japanese outfit and got to put together everything we had learnt. It came together great, although Harry had enough at this stage and decided to sit up the back and tap along with his feet. It is a bit of a workout playing the drums, but a lot of fun and very much worth it.
At the end of our lesson we were treated to an Odaiko performance (BIG Japanese Drum) by our instructor. He played for us for 6 minutes, and mentioned that his record is about 8 minutes or so. The very best Odaiko performers can play for aorund 12 minutes. It is very much a physical exertion, holding up the arms, movement and drumming all in one providing a great cardio workout. The Odaiko drums can however cost over a hundred thousand dollars, so perhaps not a new hobby option for us!