Club Spotlight: Japanese Taiko and Culture Club

By Lily Barnette and Ülvi Gitaliyev

Many students’ first experience with the Japanese Taiko and Culture Club probably came from the club performance of traditional Japanese music with their Taiko instruments during the Moon Festival on September 10th. But what exactly is Taiko and what can students gain from joining the club? The Berea Torch spoke with members of the club during the Involvement Fair on September 1st to answer such questions.

A Taiko drum performance in the Autumn Festival

Club Advisor and Instructor of Japanese at Berea College, Mr. Nathan Patton spoke about how he helped start the club:

“I had started a Japanese Taiko Drum Club in the previous school I taught at and I was able to take some drums with me. When I came and Berea College already had three drums, so we combined them. We’ve been doing Taiko drumming for a few years, but with COVID-19, we went dormant, like a lot of clubs. Then as we were starting to drum again, it became apparent that it would be better…to add a cultural part of the club. So it’s almost like two clubs in one.”

He also spoke about how Taiko drums were used to convey important messages between towns and how many believed that they had sacred spirits living inside of them.

“I really enjoy Japanese language and it gave me an opportunity to meet people who also like the Japanese language.”

Katie Koontz

Elijah, one of the Taiko drummers, described the experience as and a “full-body work out” and “a lot of fun.” They encouraged others to come and learn drumming as well.

When asked why they joined, Club Secretary Katie Koontz replied that, “I joined because I really enjoy Japanese language and it gave me an opportunity to meet people who also like the Japanese language and we can practice Japanese together. And I find it really interesting to be able to learn about Japanese culture alongside the language.”

Club Vice-President Justin Roberts added that he joined the club because he wants to live in Japan. “I plan on living in Japan one day and I also absolutely love the Japanese language. As difficult as it is for me to learn it, I’m getting there and I love Japanese food. So I’ve been working on teaching myself how to cook various Japanese dishes.”

If you want to learn more about the Japanese Taiko and Culture Club and/or join them in their drumming, you can visit their Berea Engage page here!

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