A Brief History of Arashi Daiko
There were many involved in establishing Arashi Daiko (“storm drums”) in 1983; among them were Terry and May Yasunaka who gave their final performance at the group’s 20th Anniversary Concert in March 2003. Twenty years earlier, they had invited Vancouver’s Naomi Shikaze to give a series of Japanese drumming workshops at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal (www.jcccm.ca). A small group of interested community members showed up to learn about this exciting form of expression and hence, Arashi Daiko was born.
From humble beginnings practicing on old rubber tires to the group’s present-day collection of over 30 drums, Montreal’s taiko group has changed and evolved over the years, bearing witness to a true “melange” of backgrounds in its members, while maintaining the original mission of its founders’ vision: to be a community-based group sharing this exciting aspect of Japanese culture with the public at large.
Throughout the years, members from all walks of life have joined and left the group. Although it is the magical and transformative power of the taiko that draws people into the group, it is the members’ warmth and generosity of spirit that nourishes this passion for the drums. All who have encountered Arashi Daiko have been touched by the family atmosphere its founders and members continue to cultivate.
Arashi Daiko has three core values:
1 – Respect
We respects all cultures and backgrounds, and all ages. Regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, Arashi Daiko exists with an open membership policy, respecting each member’s individuality, and asks that all members carry this respect into the group and beyond.
2 – Consideration
We each remain individuals, but when acting as a member or representative of Arashi Daiko, we must first consider what is best for the group, and remember that our actions reflect on the group as well. Consideration is also expressed in the way we treat our fellow members.
3 – Appreciation
We appreciate the drums and the equipment that we have, that has been accumulated over the years by the hard work of those who have contributed to the establishment of Arashi Daiko before us.
These core values are at the root of every culture; Arashi Daiko advocates that these human values be shared amongst all cultures. If we can help and respect one another and offer consideration and appreciation to each other on a personal level, then we are also realizing the philosophy of Arashi Daiko.
Being a member of Arashi Daiko
The practice of taiko can be seen as a metaphor for life; Arashi Daiko encourages its members to experience and share taiko through the practice of self-challenge and striving for personal growth. Each member must overcome their own obstacles and face life’s many confrontations. It is only through the development of each individual, both within and outside of Arashi Daiko, that the group may evolve as a collective.
Their goal when performing continues to be, above all else, communication with the public. Beyond the musical, traditional, and cultural aspects of their performance, the audience may share in the joy felt by Arashi’s members; this enjoyment is a result of each member’s personal investment in the group and having the privilege to share this passion for the drums with the audience.
Arashi Daiko’s members are all volunteers, giving taiko performances and classes out of devotion and respect for this dynamic art form. The group’s practices and classes are held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal (JCCCM), where all taiko equipment is stored. Being a member of Arashi means being a part of Montreal’s Japanese community as well; members participate in many other activities unrelated to taiko, but that contribute to the well-being of the community at large.
Practices are held year-round Friday evening and Saturday morning. During summer months, the group often practices on several weekday evenings, since week-ends are often occupied with performances.