The room shakes with the sound of taiko.
The Wakahaya Taiko group practices every Thursday and Saturday from 7 pm until 9 pm. Members meet at the home of their leader, Sasa Mitsuo. They crowd into a room the size of 15 tatami mats (approximately 25 square meters) full of taiko. The walls are insulated with tatami mats and plywood to prevent the loud noise of the drums from disturbing the neighbors too much.
The kids love practicing.
First they practice the flute.
As practice time approaches, the boys' parents drop them off by car, and they make their way into the taiko room. When Kids Web Japan visited, eight boys were there, ranging from second grade through fifth grade. Ishii Keiji, a former member of the group who has now grown up, was also there to help.
Practice begins with a greeting. Then the boys spend 10 minutes doing stretches to loosen up their wrists and legs. Once they have warmed up, they first practice the flute, which is an indispensable accompaniment to the taiko.
"I practiced at home," says Sugawara Hiroki a bit proudly.
The boys all blow their flutes together for about 10 minutes, creating a particularly merry sound. Then it's time to begin taiko practice.
The budding musicians each pick up a pair of bachi and take up their position beside one of the drums. They can choose a large, small, or medium-sized taiko, depending on which one they want to practice. The first piece they play, with Ishii accompanying them on the flute, is "Waka Sangiri." The boys put so much energy into it that the walls of the room shake with the sound of the drums. It's so loud that Sasa's voice is hardly audible as he shouts at them from time to time, "Stretch your arms before you swing downward with the bachi."
Kids checking their posture in the mirror
"I want to do 'Gion Bayashi' next," says one of the boys when "Waka Sangiri" is finished.
"I want to play the small taiko now," says another.
The practice session continues without a break, and the room reverberates with the boys' love of the taiko.