The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The story of Taiko Dan; how the Japanese drumming style found its way to Sacramento (VIDEO)
The Sacramento Taiko Dan play traditional Japanese drums at City College Tuesday, Jan. 30 | Photo by Anastasia Jones| Staff Reporter | [email protected]

Destinee Lang
Staff Reporter
[email protected]

For nearly 30 years, Sacramento has pulsed to the rhythm of Japan thanks to a drumming ensemble known as the Sacramento Taiko Dan.

The ancient artform of the Japanese taiko combines “music, movement and spirit,” according to Taiko Dan’s website. The drumming is partially like a dance, with elaborate movements designed to boost the sound of the drum, making it entertainment for both the ears and eyes.

Taiko Dan is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing the artform to the world, with annual shows at locations such as the California State Fair, the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival, and City College. Though taiko is Japanese, the members represent a wide range of ethnicities. Sascha Molina, assistant director of Taiko Dan, discovered the artform when studying Japanese culture.

“I’ve always been very interested in the Japanese culture, even though I am African American,” said Molina. “I was doing Japanese language study and it brought me to this artform, and I dove right in.”

Molina is in charge of the school assemblies, performance management and also teaches classes for beginners. For her and many other members of the group, taiko drumming is a full-time job.

Each performance the group does requires different preparations, Molina said.

“Some are last minute, some are put together right before we go on because of circumstances, and some are two-hour long concerts, which we practice months for, but in general we practice twice a week,” Molina said.  

Some of their drums are made out of wine barrels. Others are from Japan and made out of one piece of wood.

When the drummers performed at City College in January, audience members were given a chance to go on stage and play the taiko for themselves. Many people rushed up to the stage to try out their undiscovered skills.

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Jimenez said that she appreciates the diversity of activities and cultures City College brings to the campus.

“Even though I’m not at home, I still feel that I am surrounded by people that kind of feel like an extended family from all over the place,” said Jimenez.

Cultural Awareness Center Coordinator Victoria Henderson said she decided to invite the Taiko Dan drummers, who have performed at City College many times.

“Students and staff always ask for them to come back to campus,” said Henderson.

Henderson said she believes that diversity is important for the culture of the campus.

“Most of the groups we bring to campus are also diverse whether it’s age, ethnicity, education. And we are a diverse campus, and it’s important to expose students to as many different groups, lectures and panels as we can,” said Henderson.

Henderson added that Taiko Dan was paid an honorarium because she believes the group deserves it.

“They are well known in the community and around California, and sometimes  there are even four of five members that are playing that went to school here,” said Henderson. “So that’s really cool because they’re alumni.”

Molina said for anyone interested in becoming a taiko drummer, there is no experience required.

“Our oldest drummer is 80 and our youngest ensemble performer is seven,” said Molina.

To learn more about Taiko Dan look them up online at or follow them on facebook at
Book them for an event by sending an email to [email protected].

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