Jun Daiko

Based in Mountain View, Jun Daiko practices and teaches the art of kumidaiko, or Japanese group drumming.

In 2014, Jun Daiko received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to support a mentorship with master artist Kyosuke Suzuki.  He will instruct the ensemble in the artform of Edo Kotobuki Jishi, or the lion dance of old Tokyo.  The Japanese lion dance, or shishimai, is well-known in Japan, but rarely performed in America.  Unlike its Chinese counterpart, the Japanese lion dance was not brought over by Japanese American immigrants for use in community celebrations.  Suzuki-sansei’s residency with Jun Daiko aims to bring more awareness about this artform and perpetuate it as a performance tradition.


The next generation of Jun Daiko performers gets the blessing of the shishi. The gold lacquered head set the Wakayama school apart from the more common red-faced shishi gashira, or shishi head. Photo: Ray Yuen, Yuen Designs

To accommodate all members of Jun Daiko, the instrument settings were multiplied. Photo: Lynn Harada

Plastic buckets, packing tape, salad bowl drums, cardboard, banker boxes, and cushions are used to replicate the instruments needed by shishimai musicians.  Photo: Yumi Ishihara

Jun Daiko member, Gabe Ishida, demonstrates sitting seiza, the traditional position for practicing and performing traditional Japanese music.  Photo courtesy of Yumi Ishihara

Before the residency, only one member of Jun Daiko was confident enough to take on the role of shishi. Under Suzuki-sensei’s tutelage, it’s now possible for the pool of dancers to grow.  Photo: Lynn Harada

Suzuki-sensei demonstrates with his shishi gashira (shishi head) as students sit with their plastic versions fashioned from plastic CD containers and their lids.  Photo courtesy of David Ishimaru

Jun Daiko’s original shishi, Gabe Ishida, gets pointers from Suzuki-sensei. One of the finer points Ishida picked up during the residency: the shishi does not eat the butterfly at the end of the lullaby.  Photo: Hiroshi Tanaka

Members of Jun Daiko with Suzuki-sensei, his shishi gashira (shishi head), and a member of Jun Daiko’s next generation of artists. Jun Daiko is: [back row] Loreen Ellsbury, Kiyoshi Shikuma, Hiroshi Tanaka, Joy Tanaka, David Ishimaru, Elise Fujimoto, Gabe Ishida, Christopher Fajardo, [front row] Linda Uyechi, Barden Shimbo, Lynn Harada, Kyosuke Suzuki (master teacher), Ai Matsuda (cultural broker and interpreter), Yumi Ishihara, Britney Manago, Susan Yuen. Photo courtesy of Hiroshi Tanaka

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