Japanese Drummers Launch U.S. Tour in Virginia

Feb 19, 2020

Charlottesville is bracing for the second of three performances in Virginia by a high-energy group of Japanese drummers.  The troupe is called Yamato,  and it performs traditional music with a 21st century twist.

While drumming has traditionally been a male art form in Japan, half of the drummers in Yamato are women.
Credit Yamato

Taiko drumming is an ancient art in Japan featuring instruments made from 400-year-old trees. For centuries these performances featured men, but in 1993 Yamato changed that according to its creative director Masa Ogawa.

“Female drummers have been a part of Yamato from the beginning, and half the group is made up of women now," he says. "The women are just as strong or stronger drummers than the men of Yamato.”

Women train in the same way as men, and they are equally involved with setting up for elaborate shows that involve dancing and vigorous drumming.  The group has given 4,000 performances in 54 countries, launching its latest North American tour --- called The Passion – in Virginia.

They’ll play at Charlottesville’s Paramount Theater Thursday evening and at the Altria Theater in Richmond Friday, leaving just enough time for the troupe of ten men and ten women to discover Virginia.

“All of them know the name of Thomas Jefferson," Masa explains. "Luckily, we will have time to visit to Monticello this time!  And we heard that there are wineries. We would like to buy some wine too.”