Sugawara Hiroki joined Wakahaya Taiko when he was six. He is now in second grade, but he was probably destined to be a drummer from birth. As a baby he loved beating toy drums, and he would always nag his mother, Yoshimi, "I want to play the taiko!" One time, when his mother took him to a supermarket, a taiko performance was being held there. Hearing the sound of drums, he followed the sound all the way to its source.
Hiroki's father is a policeman, and his mother is a hairdresser. Her hair salon is on the first floor of their home, which was built just three years ago, and she works from 9 am until 7 pm. She keeps a crib and plenty of toys in her work space so that customers can bring young children with them.
Hiroki bangs a drum, pretending it is a taiko.
Playing a video game with friends
The taiko players are all good friends.
Hiroki's friends often come over to play with him. On the day Kids Web Japan dropped by his home, Hiroki had a visit from Aoki Ryota and Iida Yuta. The three of them spent time chatting and playing games in the second-floor living room. Sometimes they play until it's almost time for taiko practice, then go together to Sasa's house.
Hiroki loves taiko so much that he has hardly ever missed practice, and he always likes to be at the forefront of the action. His favorite is the ko-daiko (small taiko), which usually takes a lead role. He is a picture of dependability as he swings his bachi without any hesitation or hint of shyness. And he has never had an attack of butterflies when performing in public.
Hiroki relates how his grandparents, who came to see him play, once "looked like squashes" to him. You see, an advice that's often given to a nervous person who is about to go on stage is, "Just imagine that everyone in the audience is a squash." Hiroki gets so engrossed in playing his taiko that he is hardly aware of the eyes of the audience.
His favorite piece is "Midare Sangiri," which has a solo part that can be arranged any way to the player's liking. "Maybe I'll compose my own Sangiri," he says during practice, his eyes shining brightly.
Hiroki has been learning English since he was two years and ten months old, and he has taken the junior test of the United Nations Associations Test of English. He also enjoys playing with the GameBoy he received for Christmas, but his greatest love is still playing the taiko.