In 2005, we opened the Big Drum: Taiko in the United States exhibition. It was the first exhibition since my joining the Web unit at JANM where we really developed a lot of cool resources online in conjunction with an exhibit. I had the opportunity to work with curator Sojin Kim, our web technologist Geoff Jost, and volunteer writers to develop & upload a lot of great historic and contemporary photos, activities, and articles on the exhibition site.
I also worked with Discover Nikkei coordinator Yoko Nishimura and staff at our Watase Media Arts Center to add many wonderful video interview clips on our Discover Nikkei website.
The other major component we developed was a database of taiko groups in the U.S., but also included some other groups outside of Japan. We set up the database using some basic info collected for the exhibition. Then, we contacted all of the groups and invited them to log in and update/add to their group info, and upload some photos & audio clips.
Although most never logged in, there were quite a few groups that did participate. The most notable was San Jose Taiko who added extensive information about their group’s history. Others included Portland Taiko, Fubuki Taiko, Somei Yoshino Taiko, and University of Tasmania Taiko Society.
It was always so interesting to look at what groups had added information because it showed the growth and popularity of taiko. There were groups all over the U.S. (even in places where there aren’t many Japanese Americans), and many in Canada, and even in Europe (there are 4 groups listed in Belgium)!
After the initial activity during the exhibition run, not many of the groups updated their info. When the redesigned Discover Nikkei site went live in July 2009, we launched it without the Taiko Database, always intending to add it back in once we had some time to work on it.
It’s been 2 years, but I’m really excited that we recently launched our new & improved Taiko Groups section! It has the old database info, photos, and audio clips, but presented in a new layout with easier accessibility, and incorporates events posted by the groups onto their taiko group pages.
San Jose Taiko has already started updating their info and we hope that other groups will join them soon.
P.S. If you are with or know of any taiko groups, please encourage them to update their pages! It’s a great & free way to share your group’s contact info, general info, history, photos, audio clips, videos, and upcoming events!
If you need help with your group’s login info, or if your group is not already listed and you’d like to be added, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.