Recorded June 20, 2017. 61 minute, 41.7 MB mp3 file.
Born and raised in Japan until the age of 16, Ai Matsuda moved to Hawaii to study English. There she began to play Taiko with the Hawaii Matsuri Taiko lead by Mrs. Faye Komagata, her aunt at the Ryusenji Soto Mission Buddhist temple in Wahiawa, Hawaii. She then had the opportunities to learn from the Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka of the San Francisco Taiko Dojo (recipient of the 2001 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts), Kiyonari Tosha of the Nihon Taiko Dojo in Tokyo, PJ & Roy Hirabayashi of the San Jose Taiko, Etsuo Hongo of the Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko, and Kenny Endo of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble in Honolulu, Hawaii. She became a member of the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble in 1999, performing both in Hawaii and the mainland U.S. with Endo and other professional musicians. She has taught adults and kids classes at the Taiko Center of the Pacific. In 2011, she returned to Tokyo, Japan, and now continues her learning Taiko from Yuu Ishizuka, Classical Japanese music (Kabuki Bayashi) from Saburo Mochizuki, and Edo Bayashi/Shinobue/Shishimai from Kyosuke Suzuki of the Taneo Wakayama School of Wakayama Shachu recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Culture to be an “important intangible cultural property of Japanese fine arts”.
During our conversation, we talk about Aichan’s experiences playing taiko in Hawaii, the mainland United States, and Japan. Aichan discusses the various roles that taiko has had in her life, the various identities that taiko has taken on, and how her relationship with taiko has changed over time.