Contributed by Savannah Umeda

Savannah Umeda, a member of the Advanced Taiko Class submitted this article detailing her experience as a Koyasan Taiko Group Member.

What I love most about taiko is the feeling of being with your friends and sharing frightening moments and happy celebrations. I, personally, have stage fright and hate going on stage in front of an audience. But when I go on stage with my friends, I feel that it’s not so bad if I can share the scariness with other people. I also do not like to do solos, and get this nervous feeling in my stomach whenever mine is up next. But when I start, I realize that I am being cheered on by my friends and whoever is playing the song with me. That is what taiko is about, cheering on your friends.

During practice at Koyasan Temple, sometimes Sensei asks a question about one of the songs, and it’s so silent that even though I know the answer, I will be reluctant to say it. Even though that sometimes happens, when we play a song that has a lot of kiai, when I hear them shout out, I will find the courage to speak too. When we perform, I get very nervous. I am always afraid that I will mess up and everyone will notice and laugh at me for it. Even though I will always have that fear, I know that it is unrealistic because I am surrounded by friends who will never laugh at me for messing up, only help me. That is the reason why I love taiko. It is a safe space where we can play and laugh and have fun together.