Northampton Community College’s (NCC) Japanese cultural program hosted a Japanese taiko drumming workshop and performance on March 15. This event was a great opportunity for students and faculty to experience taiko and learn more about Japanese culture and history. The workshops were given by professional taiko drummer, Mac Evans, who is based in Philadelphia. Evans has been working with taiko since 2005, playing along the East coast of the United States (U.S.) and is a proud member of The Casual Fifth Taiko and Dance Troupe. Later in the evening, guests had a special visit from the Consulate General of Japan.

Evans shared his years of knowledge about the Japanese instrument as well as the Japanese culture that surrounds it. During these workshops, everyone in attendance had a chance to learn how to play the taiko, with multiple different drums to learn. Evans demonstrated the proper way to hit the drum as well as how to use cadences or “purposeful yelling” to produce more energy while drumming. As everyone learned tips to playing the instrument, he also gave quick lectures to teach more about where taiko originated from, and how the instruments were made. 

Taiko is a Japanese percussion art that involves the use of large drums played with sticks called bachi. Their function has varied throughout history, ranging from communication, military action, theatre purposes, religious ceremonies, and concert performances. The technique behind playing taiko is also an art form within itself, one which takes body stabilization, endurance, and sophistication. After the workshops were finished, Evans showcased his expertise in taiko and performed multiple songs alongside Yiden Zeng and Megumi Taguchi, who helped facilitate the event. His performance captivated the audience and demonstrated how pleasing the art of taiko can be, through both the sound and the presentation.   

NCC was also extremely honored to have Mr. Tomoe Sato, Japanese diplomat, in attendance during this enlightening performance. Mr. Sato came to the U.S. as a Cultural Attaché at the Consulate General of Japan in New York in June of 2022. Before his assignment in the U.S., he worked at the Secretariat of the House of Councilors, where he supported the Plenary Sittings and managed general affairs of budgeting for the secretariat. Mr. Sato’s presence highlighted the importance of this cultural event and emphasized the presence of Japanese culture here at NCC.  

The NCC Japanese cultural program not only showcases the beauty of Japan, but also provides students and members of the community with opportunities to learn and engage in other cultural activities and traditions outside of their own. Mr. Sato shared that he is very grateful that people are interested in Japanese culture. He followed this by sharing one of his favorite Japanese quotes, which translates to “what you like, you will do best,” and encouraged everyone to keep building on their interest in Japanese culture.