Japanese word taiko (tye-koh) means
drum. The Japanese have used the drum for many reasons. Hundreds
of years ago the taiko was used to determine the boundaries of
the village. A village was as large as the booming sound of the
drum would carry.
was also used in battle as military music, to give courage to
the samurai warriors, and to intimidate the enemy. Taiko is also
found in other areas of Japanese culture. It is used in various
types of theater, and is one of the main instruments in the music
of the Imperial Court.
plays an important part in Japanese festivals, or matsuri
(ma-tsoo-ree). Farmers played the taiko believing that its thunder-like
sound would bring rain for their crops. Fishermen played the taiko
to ask for a good harvest of fish. At other festivals the drum
is played to dispel evil spirits, ward off sickness, or give thanks
is believed to have a kami, a spirit of its own.
It is associated with the changing of the seasons, the cycles
of nature, and the celebration of life.