New York wrap up

April 12th, 2014 | posted by:


Last weekend I had a great week that culminated in two workshops at the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center in New York City. The first was a workshop on the interlocking rhythms of Lion Chant and second was on mastering Omiyage. The workshops were held at Kaoru’s new beautiful studio in Brooklyn. It was fantastic being there and I’d like to give a huge shout out to Kaoru, Mari, Shinobu and Miki for putting up with me for a week AND for all the great food. Also a huge thank you goes out to the workshop participants who came from as far away as Sydney, central Massachusetts and Long Island.

I also got to see footage of the debut performance of Kaoru’s new taiko group: Ne-O Ensemble. It was really impressive as a debut performance and I’m looking forward to seeing more from New York’s newest odd-grooviest, powerfully hitting, serious walking taiko playing ensemble.

After the weekend I flew back to Los Angeles, Maz picked me up from the airport and went straight to rehearsal for an On Ensemble performance at CSU Channel Islands earlier this week. Spent the rest of the week getting back in the LA routine with the little one. Spent time some quality father daughter time at Descanso, Huntington Gardens and building a giant lego crocodile creature. Good times.

Recent book reviews — April 2014

April 12th, 2014 | posted by:

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Joe Small call for collaborators

April 5th, 2014 | posted by:

Our good friend and taiko colleague, Joe Small, is seeking taiko players to join in the development and presentation of his final MFA thesis at UCLA. It’s an exciting project and a chance to work with dedicated taiko artists. Read on for the details and contact Joe if interested.

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Kaoru and Kenny at JANM

April 5th, 2014 | posted by:

Our good friends and frequent collaborators Kaoru Watanabe and Kenny Endo will be performing at JANM on Friday May 23rd at 8:00pm! Tickets are on sale now and are only $15!

Friday, May 23, 2014, 8:00 pm
Japanese American National Museum–Tateuchi Democracy Forum
100 N Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tickets: $15 general admission; $10 JANM members
Purchase online at:


The personal plan comes none-too-soon

April 3rd, 2014 | posted by:

Thank goodness I now have a personal plan to do something about climate change. A day after publishing my essay, this article comes out: Congress’s Scientific Illiterates Are Resigning the World to Ruin. The personal plan provides at least a bit of solace…

Taiko workshops at the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center

April 3rd, 2014 | posted by:

I’ll be giving two workshops at the Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center this Saturday April 5th. Space is limited and there are just a few spots left for the two workshops:

Lion Chant Workshop 1 : Interlocking Rhythms
This workshop will introduce participants to components of Shoji’s newest piece taiko composition: Lion Chant. Focusing on simple independence this workshop will focus on the timing and technique required for creating dense layers of interlocking rhythms. This workshop will also teach part of the structure of the piece Lion Chant and will lay the foundation for learning and performing the composition. All levels welcome! Limited to 12 participants

Mastering Omiyage
This workshop will focus on refining the technique and concepts behind Omiyage. One of the taiko world’s most exciting and performed compositions Omiyage is now performed by taiko groups throughout the world. Learn to master the subtleties of the movements and composition from the creator himself. No previous experience with Omiyage necessary. Limited to 12 participants

10 am to 1 pm: Lion Chant
1 pm lunch
2 to 5 pm: Omiyage

Fee (includes lunch)
For KWTC members:
$55 for one workshop, $95 for both
For non-members:
$60 for one workshop, $105 for both
RSVP by emailing

There is also a great taiko intensive next week Friday April 11th to Sunday 13th at the KWTC with Tetsuro Naito and Patrick Graham.


Shoji Kameda is a Grammy nominated musician, composer and producer and a leading creative force in the taiko world. If you are interested in bringing him out to work with your group contact him at: shoji(at)

Toward a Sustainable Taiko Career

April 2nd, 2014 | posted by:



For the last six months I have been contemplating my carbon footprint and how touring as an artist produces more than my fair share of CO2. I sketched out a long-term plan, talked to everyone I know, read books on the subject, took online classes, and thought and thought about it. The result is a 10-year CO2-reduction plan. It will eventually change how often I can travel by air with On Ensemble but I hope that with creativity and hard work, I can minimize the negative impact and maximize the benefits.

The essay above explains the project. I welcome any feedback, especially challenges to the reasoning behind the plan.

Ho Etsu Taiko Intensive

April 2nd, 2014 | posted by:


I had a great weekend leading a taiko intensive for Ho Etsu Taiko. Ho Etsu Taiko originally started as a youth group with the Midwest Buddhist Temple. Four years ago they opened their membership to those outside of the temple and have become one of the most active and creative taiko ensembles in the Chicago area. They perform throughout the midwest and have worked with professional taiko players like Nagata Shachu and Tiffany Tamaribuchi and seek out collaborations with other artists in their area like noted Irish singer Paddy Homan. Here’s a link to a Chicago Tribune article about Ho Etsu Taiko, their recent collaboration with Paddy Homan and their temple’s attempts at reaching out to the surrounding communities.

In preparing for the intensive I had the group leader Jason send me videos and recordings of their recent work and was impressed with the quality of their recent work. When a group asks me to come in and work with them it’s important for me to try to get a sense of the character of the group and what they are trying to do musically and artistically. My goal is to help them become better versions of themselves and give them tools and techniques that they can use on their own to continue their artistic progress as a group. We exchanged several emails and had a face to face meeting to further understand where they are, where they want to go and come up with a set of focal points for our time together.


When working with a group on an in depth basis I like to use pieces that they already play so that it’s more clear how they can implement different concepts that I introduce. I have found that this is much more effective than just teaching them a new drill. I’ve worked with groups in the past to improve their basic kata with a new drill and it will look great while playing the drill, playing relaxed and powerful but the moment they go back to playing the songs they are used to it just goes back to the way they were playing before. I’ve realized that it’s helpful to introduce basic concepts in a way that is more applicable right away.

Using two pieces from the groups repertoire I worked with them to improve their betta and naname basics, stage presence, listening and timing and worked with the composer of the pieces to flush out their pieces with different compositional techniques and approaches. I also taught them parts of a new composition of mine called Lion Chant and invited them to perform the piece as a part of a big multi group performance at the opening of the World Taiko Gathering. We got a lot done over the weekend and I’d like to thank Jason, Ryan, Donny, Dana, Tiana, Lannie, Emily and Alexa for all of their hard work and for taking such great care of me while in Chicago.


Shoji Kameda is a Grammy nominated musician, composer and producer and a leading creative force in the taiko world. If you are interested in bringing him out to work with your group contact him at: shoji(at)

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