Uminari Taiko Newsletter (Spring 2017)
March 15, 2017


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Uminari Taiko Update

One of the songs Uminari Taiko performs is called “Korekara”. Korekara can be loosely translated as “from now on”. The song was composed by a group of young taiko players in the US and was composed with a spirit of deep appreciation for the taiko pioneers that have come before us, and excitement about the future. This could be the theme song for 2017!!

Jacob Derksen, the last of the founding members, has left the group after 15 years of playing, teaching and promoting taiko in Victoria. In 2001 the VNCS funded an Introductory Taiko Workshop in Victoria. Following the workshop a small group with a shared vision and passion for taiko continued meeting to pave the way for the formation of Uminari Taiko. By 2002 the group was playing on tires and learning how to make drums. Over the last 15 years the founding members have gone on to focus on advanced education, careers and families. We have said goodbye and thanks to Valerie Watanabe, Marcin Sawicki, Margie Parikh, Brad Lewis, Deb Shepherd and now Jacob. They created the group and laid a foundation for others to take up the challenge of moving forward in new ways. Jacob has put in his time and “from now on” it is time for him to use his time for other interests. Thanks Jacob. We wish you fun, creativity and good luck from now on.

The last 15 years have seen many changes in the taiko community. There has been a shift from playing only traditional songs, learned from Japanese groups and instructors, to a new openness and creativity in North America. Many groups are creating pieces like Korekara and releasing them under a Creative Commons Share License that encourages others to learn, perform, and modify the piece. We are looking forward to learning and creating more of these pieces.

Joining us as we move forward are new members Mark Holzer (formerly of Pittsburgh Taiko) and Clara Chin and apprentices Douglas James and Cadence Mandybura. We are all busy preparing for our 15th Anniversary Concert on May 6 (see the poster) where we will be performing a mix of old and new songs. Also coming up are performances at Asian Heritage Month (May 28) , St. Aidan's Church (June 4), Campbell River Cultural Festival (June 3 or June 17) and Canada Day in Courtenay (July 1). More information about these gigs will be posted on our Web site,

In February on a snowy weekend we played at the Black History Month Drum and Dance Festival for the Victoria African and Carribean Cultural Society. You can see a video clip here

Stay tuned to see where we go from now on.

15th Anniversary Concert Poster

Member Profiles

Meet our apprentices.

Cadence Mandybura
Music has always been somewhere in Cadence's life, from classical piano as a child to saxophone in high school band. She fell in love with percussion after soaking up Carnatic music in south India, and took up West African drumming when she returned to her hometown of Calgary. Secretly she has always pined to learn taiko. Moving to Victoria gave her the opportunity to take part in Uminari Taiko workshops, and she's thrilled to have joined the ensemble as an apprentice.

Douglas James
A long time 5th generation Victorian, I've been interested in Japanese music, language and culture for a long time and taiko drumming seemed like a natural fit. I've always been interested in drumming since my early days in high school as a member of the school band.  The rhythm and dancing in taiko is always a challenge and very enjoyable. But getting to bang out your frustrations on taiko drums is always a natural high for me.  I also dragon boat, and so Taiko is a natural complement to dragon boating.  
And if you're wondering, the picture is me in a Tea House from my recent trip to Japan.

Farewell Message From Jacob

After All These Years ....
I’ve long known that one day I would move on from Uminari Taiko to pursue other creative endeavours. Up until very recently, however, I had thought that that day was a long way off yet. In reflecting on the past 15+ years I feel incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to practice and perform taiko in and around Victoria and to study as far afield as Japan. I also feel incredibly grateful to have met and learned from all of the amazing people I’ve crossed paths with in the taiko community at large and in our little taiko community here. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to share taiko through workshops and classes over the past decade and a half; I owe a debt of gratitude to all the participants who’ve been a part of that. In addition to a huge “thank you” to the other Uminari Taiko founding members who helped kick off this journey I want to thank former president of the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society, Mike Abe, for letting that small group of us hit drums – taped up tires, really – in his old aikido dojo on Johnson St all those years ago.

My love affair with taiko began in 1989 after seeing Katari Taiko perform in Nelson, BC. Before they had finished their first piece I made up my mind that one day I would play taiko! Since that time, with every concert I’ve attended, with every workshop I’ve taken, my passion for the art has only intensified. It has afforded me opportunities to study with some of the most accomplished performers in the world and that has extended not just to taiko but to noh and Indonesian gamelan, as well. The lessons learned extend far beyond taiko itself, though. As with martial arts like iaido or karate-do, taiko, I believe, can be used a way of developing one’s character. Certainly in my experience I have seen that the most skilled of the performers I’ve met, and of the teachers I’ve had, have been without fail some of the most generous, amazing and inspirational people I’ve ever met. As much as I have yet to learn – about taiko and about life – I do know that I am a better person for having had this opportunity. Quite fortunately for me one of the amazing people that I met along this path became my wife last year. So, while I may no longer be part of a performing ensemble, I do have someone in my life who – much like the best of my taiko teachers – inspires me every day to be a better person. (She has her work cut out for her but she knew what she was getting into. ;)

I do look forward to crossing paths with all the folks and workshop participants I’ve come to know over the years and I quite expect that may take place at events such as the annual VNCS fall fair. After 15+ years my attendance there has become quite an entrenched habit, not unlike drumming itself. I wish you all the very best.

Warmest regards,
Jacob Derksen

Jacob with founding members Brad Lewis, Deb Shepherd & Margie Parikh at Uminari Taiko 10TH Anniversary Concert, 2012.

Upcoming Taiko Courses

You too can experience the power of Japanese drumming and the exhilaration of performing in a drum ensemble by taking our upcoming taiko courses.

3 Hour Introductory Workshop
Sunday Apr 2:30 to 5:30
Cost: Regular $54; Early Bird $49; VNCS members $49

6 Week Adult Taiko Class
Sundays May 1 to June 18, 4:15 to 5:45  
Cost: Regular $99; Early Bird $89; VNCS members $89


For more information about these courses or to register for a course go to

The education schedule for Fall and Winter session will be posted on our Web site in August.

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