One of the things I absolutely wanted to do here was learn to play the taiko drums. We are asked upon arrival about any hobbies we have or things we are interested in outside of our job. I quickly stated “I want to learn taiko drums!” Ever since I first heard a taiko performance I thought they were so magnificent and have jumped at any opportunities I know of to see them (I even dragged my friend to see some with me while on vacation when I learned there would be a show). But unfortunately I never did much to pursue learning to play them myself. As I began to contemplate this move to Japan I started looking into taiko groups in my area back home but seemed to always look in the mid or off seasons, or find places that had waiting lists to join. So when I accepted the position with the JET Programme I knew one of the things I absolutely had to do here was learn to play.
I was nervous about our first practice, but fortunately a fellow JET is also playing with me (strength in gaijin numbers!). I also had no idea if my instructors would be able to communicate in English seeing as my Japanese is still very limited. But my friend reminded me that music is a pretty universal language in its own rite and my teachers were able to translate the basic terms (start, ready, counting, etc.) The first lesson was short, and to our relief we’re learning with kids. Most of the first lesson we were able to watch them practice, and sit awe struck of how talented even the children are at playing (while feeling slightly incompetent ourselves, but still excited nonetheless). We learned some basic beats, the proper way to stand and how to hold the bachi (drum sticks). It is the first of many lessons to come and I could not be more thrilled to finally be learning to play this awesome Japanese instrument!