The List of the Performers

Yuichi Kimura

Born in Kobe in 1976, Yuichi Kimura first encountered taiko as a member of the high school taiko club.  In the wake of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that destroyed his home, Yuichi and his team performed taiko at evacuation centers in order to raise the spirits of those suffering.  From that experience he felt the mysterious and invigorating effect of taiko on the audience, and decided to set his sights on becoming a professional taiko artist.

From the spring to summer of 1995, he joined Ichiro Jishoya’s group, Wadaiko Ichiro, and performed sixty concerts across Europe.  In 1996, he encountered one of the leading experts in taiko, Eitetsu Hayashi, and came under his study as a member of his professional ensemble, Fu-Un no Kai.  In 1997 he toured Europe again with Wadaiko Ichiro, performing a grueling 120 times in 6 months.  From 1998-2002 he became a full-time supporting member of Eitetsu Hayashi’s Fu-Un no Kai and performed in concerts and events throughout Japan before returning to Kobe to perform with his hometown group.

In 2005, in observance of the 10th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, he produced the charity taiko concert, "From Kobe: Thanks and Hopes, Facing to the Future", and also wrote the original requiem piece "Daichi" ("Earth"), a piece now played by taiko groups across Kansai area.

In 2010 he was an invited guest performer of Japan Chinese Orchestra (Nihon Kagakudan) on the mainstage of the World Expo in Shanghai.

In 2011, after 16 years of performance activity, he parted with his hometown group in Kobe in order to begin activities as an independent solo artist.  The following year he both performed in and assisted as an organizer of Eitetsu Hayashi's 40th-anniversary concert tour, which occurred to much acclaim.

In addition to his standalone solo concerts and live shows, Kimura holds a fascination with uniting the art of Japanese taiko with music from across the world.  Under the theme of “Music Without Borders/One World”, he began with joint performances with Chinese guzheng (koto) artist Wu Fan, and then formed the Kansai-based "Kimura Yuichi & Special Sauce", a pioneering jazz/classical/latin/world genre-blending collaborative unit with two releases to date:  "Sora Kakeru Tsubasa" (“Soaring Wings in the Sky”) (CD) and "Jonetsu Live" ("Fiery Passion") (DVD).

In addition to leading various taiko classes and workshops in the region as well as directing and song-writing for community groups, Kimura also engages in educational activities for the general public.  He teaches anyone from pre-schoolers to the elderly, novice to advanced, to discover the joy in taiko.

For young taiko enthusiasts interested in more in-depth training, he has established the Wadaiko Unit “Daiichi no Kai”, which performs concerts and school shows in the area.

As a high-schooler, Kimura believed that the power of wadaiko could to give courage to the hearts of people in order to help them rise up from disaster and tragedy.  Carrying their hopes and dreams, this belief has now brought him to his 20th year of performance activities.  (2014)

 Yuichi Kimura is a recipient of the 2010 Hyogo Prefecture Sakai Tokitada Music Award, the 2012 Kobe City Cultural Promotion Prize, and the 2013 Hyogo Prefectural Arts Promotion Prize. 


Keifu Hashimoto

Born in Kobe in 1989, Keifu Hashimoto started drumming as a part of his high school’s taiko drumming club. He began performing in 2008, and during this time gained street performance experience in New York and Rome. He came to study under Yuichi Kimura in 2012, becoming a core member of Kimura’s ensemble, Daiichi no Kai, and broadening the scope of his activities. Hashimoto began his career as a solo musician in 2015 with his concert entitled, “Unchallenged Territory.” In 2017, he was awarded a bronze medal in the pan-Asian K-Design Awards for his fusion of the analog and the digital through projection mapping during taiko performances. Hashimoto then went on to spearhead planning for the opening ceremony of the 2018 K-Design Awards at The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai. With his widely diverse range of activities, Hashimoto continues to seek new possibilities in the world of taiko drumming.  


Shuto Sakamoto

Born in 1995 in Amagasaki, Hyogo, Sakamoto first encountered taiko and the Japanese bamboo flute in middle school, during which time he joined a local taiko performance group. He has been performing and studying under Yuichi Kimura since 2014, taking part in both domestic concert series and in a variety of domestic and overseas events as a member of Kimura’s ensemble, Daiichi no Kai. It was during this time that he became a performer of Japanese traditional instruments in earnest. In addition to his performance activities, Sakamoto maintains a taiko classroom for the instruction of children in Amagasaki, as well as holding workshops on the traditional Japanese flute for the wider region. Seeking to expose greater numbers of people to the joy of Japanese traditional instruments, Sakamoto is a vigorous developer of community outreach for taiko and flute alike.  


Ikki Yamamoto

Ikki Yamamoto, who has been playing taiko drums since he joined a local children’s group at the age of five, came to study under Yuichi Kimura after his graduation from high school in 2016. In April of that same year, he achieved his professional debut. In addition to appearing in a variety of taiko performances in Japan, Yamamoto has shown his dedication to spreading the joy of taiko to children, guiding kindergartens in the instruction of taiko, as well as opening his own taiko classroom for children. As a taiko performer who has inherited the art form and is passing it on to future generations, Yamamoto strives each day of his career to express the interwoven nature of taiko’s technique, polish, and spirituality.