Taiko means big drum, and it dates back to creation myths of Japan. Throughout history, the drum has played an integral role in Japanese culture. During the past 40 years, the playing of taiko has developed into an ensemble performing art.



Many groups began forming in the late 1960s as young Asian Americans embraced taiko as an expression of their culture and heritage. Seiichi Tanaka, the sensei at the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, gave many of the North American groups their first workshops and taught them the basic skills of taiko. He was instrumental in the spread of taiko across North America. The immigrated form of Asian North American taiko is influenced by many different styles of music- Chinese, Japanese, North American, African, Latin American- as taiko composers have been influenced by all of the musical influences in their contemporary surroundings.

Linda drumming

Sawagi Taiko's compositions also incorporate many different musical influences, including the Chicago blues, rap, and traditional Japanese folk songs.




old Sawagi photoSawagi Taiko, circa 1994


In 1990, the year Sawagi formed, most of the members were already part of Vancouver's Katari Taiko and had several years of drumming experience. After playing as Katari Taiko at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, the members playing thought it would be most appropriate to form a separate all-women's group. Sawagi Taiko was born! Other all-women's groups in Canada include LOUD! and RAW.

Since forming, Sawagi has taken part in several women's music festivals and a large variety of other events, locally and across the U.S.A.

Over the years, there have been different group members; however, the group has always been a consistent seven or eight members.

Contact us at sawagitaiko [at] gmail.com or 604.876.7358