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TSUKASA TAIKO is a program of Asian Improv aRts Midwest that aims to preserve, develop, and pass on the traditional concepts of Japanese art as a cultural legacy, while expanding and evolving the art of taiko. 

Dedicated to understanding and strengthening Japanese American, Asian American, and Japanese identities, Tsukasa Taiko offers taiko instruction, workshops, educational presentations, and performances that advance the understanding of taiko within the context of the cultural, performing and musical arts. Special workshops also include, shamisen (3-stringed lute), and shinobue (bamboo flute) to all ages and skill levels.  It works closely with schools, companies, and organizations to provide special performances and presentations on the history of taiko and Japanese music.

As an active performing group, Tsukasa Taiko presents over fifty shows a year, both locally and internationally, including venues and events such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Steppenwolf Theater, the Chicago Cultural Center, The Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Harris Theater, Millennium Park, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Chicago Symphony Center, the Smithsonian, and the Malta International Theater Festival in Poland among others.

Tsukasa Taiko’s director, teachers, and staff are all dedicated professionals, recognized as world class, working artists. Director Tatsu Aoki is a renowned musician, composer, and recording artist, who works in traditionally based Japanese music as well as experimental and jazz idioms. Guest artist Noriko Sugiyama has returned to Chicago from Japan, to work with Tsukasa Taiko. Lead performer Kioto Aoki is Chicago's sole taiko artist, working on solo musical projects and installations while simultaneously maintaining a visual arts practice. With strong leadership and aesthetic vision, Tsukasa Taiko works to cultivate artistic excellence and is positioned to further expand and advance Japanese music in Chicago, and to develop as a cultural beacon for the future. 








Tsukasa Taiko maintains an active national performance schedule and has presented its works at venues  outside of Chicago including the Smithsonian, the Indiana State Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Tsukasa Taiko established The National Gintenkai Project, regularly collaborating with our sister taiko ensemble, Gen Taiko in San Francisco of GenRyu Arts. This National Gintenkai is the premier performing ensemble dedicated to reviving compositions from 1970’s Tokyo to maintain the traditional aesthetics of the Japanese arts through taiko. 

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