Toward a Sustainable Taiko Career



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.

5 Responses to “Toward a Sustainable Taiko Career”

  1. Tiana says:

    Kris, thank you for this essay. I’m one of those people who thinks about climate change and gets overwhelmed, feeling that there’s nothing I can do personally to make an impact. Seeing a concrete number, however, gave my frustration a new focus. With a goal to work towards – 2 tons of carbon emissions per year – and a plan for getting there, it starts to seem more possible. Taiko + carbon emissions. What an unlikely and delightful combination!

  2. brian wada says:

    WOW KRIS!!!! first of all i wish you the best of luck on this grand venture you are about to begin. if there is anything i can do to help i would love to be a part of what you are doing. i think theres one thing i might have input on and to me that would be your touring or opportunities. you have a gift that should be shared with as many people in this world as possible even if that means more travel. but on that note traveling in different ways or routes or however you plan to get to places might also take you through more remote areas where people can be exposed to what you are doing for the environment and for taiko as well. you are definitely in a position to adapt to this change being healthy and able to ride a bike over long distances. i wish i could do the same. bikes are my biggest passion in life and have also been the biggest devastation in my life. i raced bmx growing up then switched to freestyle and street and ramp riding i guess because of my A.D.D and my drive to always learn more tricks and push myself harder. i blew out my knee on a 540 transfer off a 8ft quarter into a wedge i was about 7ft above coping while i was spinning i thought i was too high so i slowed my rotation which was a bad move because i landed sideways from around 12ft up and popped all the ligaments in my knee. then i blew my knee out again about 6 years ago. which in the meantime i was still competing in judo and racing about 5-8 dirt bike desert races a year with multiple crashes and not to mention working fulltime loading planes with heavy bags and freight. i was sponsored for about a month when i blew out my knee for the first time which completely ended any career i might have had in bmx. not just because i ride bmx but from my experience of many different sports soccer basketball baseball football volleyball wrestling judo rock climbing softball dirt bike racing paintball which ive played all for a great part of my life but of any sport bmx is the most progressive sport in the world. bmx changes hourly and to keep up with the competition is impossible. my passion is bmx and bikes of all types and now that i am not physically able to do the things on my bike i used to it has really had a major impact on my life and my happiness. as a bike rider im sure you understand how i feel. i am still however able to race my dirt bike thakfully do to a suspension and the fact that im pretty much just riding in one direction not backwards like on my bmx bike.
    sorry im rambling. my point is you are healthy and able to ride so you must take advantage of it. its been taken from me only because my passion took me to jump off big ramps and ride backwards down 20-30 sets of stairs and grinding down long rails. haha ill tell you how i learned to ride backwards or fakie as we call it. when i was laid up recovering from my first knee surgery i had dreams every night about doing tricks on my bike and riding backwards. when i was able to get back on my bike i taught myself how to ride fakie in a matter of hours. riding a bike gives you the most freedom ive ever had. i wish i could go on a long bike ride with you and then watch you play taiko or even play taiko with you that would be amazing but unfortunately my body will not allow it anymore. however i will support you and help you in any way possible.
    sadly this world will more than likely eventually sooner than later get to that mass extinction you are talking about. i wish for the same things you do only i think our existence has become so lazy and dependent on cars and anything that will make peoples lives easier no matter the cost to themselves or the environment. i grew up with hard working morals and to not waste and generally just to be a good person and always help other people. unfortunately this new generation has none of those values or respect for anything for that matter. its a shame. but i will support you any way i can even though im limited to long distance travel by car or plane still. but this i do believe and maybe it will make you feel a little better about your battle to help the world, no matter what happens to us as a civilization wether we ruin the planet so much it becomes uninhabitable or theres a food shortage or all the fresh water dries up no matter what happens to us the earth will adjust and rebuild as it always does and maybe the next wave of humans or whatever takes over will learn from the mistakes weve made. hahah sorry for all the rambling!!! good luck kris i cant wait to see how your life changes and like you said the artistic side will get more creative!

  3. Airi says:


    I discovered your blog this past week here on the On Ensemble website and dang … what an incredible gift it’s been. Your literature here on sustainable taiko playing is absolutely breathtaking and I’m just sitting here shaken from the overwhelming inspiration and awe.

    “I’d know my art isn’t being created at the expense of the world’s poor.”

    “I will make my music good for us all, and I will have fun doing it. This is the proper application of privilege. It is the proper celebration of freedom.”

    Am I allowed to leave a comment that is nothing but compliments? You always seem to seek constructive criticism for your work, but I have none. You are my amazing taiko teacher and I’m so incredibly blessed to have met you. Thanks, and please keep being you.

  4. Oliver says:

    Regarding your CO2 essay… it was excellent to read so thank you for that. It is beautifully written and, though I know it is not necessarily your intention, provokes some important hard questions within the mind of the reader about their own actions, effects, and indeed awareness and thought processes. It’s very simple – if everyone in the world had your level of conciousness, kindness, practical productivity and ecological empathy a great many of the world’s key problems in the 21st Century would be instantly improved and in many instances instantly solved, reaching far beyond just climate change. I don’t say this to sugar you with praise, I say it because I believe it to be a near-irrefutable conclusion to reach, knowing you and reading this work.

    As you know from our discussion on the topic, you and I differ somewhat on our opinions regarding how best to solve this huge problem, and this essentially boils down to an issue which you address in the essay, and in the ‘Questions/Criticisms’ – the question of where the onus for change lies – with the individual or with governments and large institutions. Of course the real answer is that climate change is a problem for absolutely everyone – individuals, governments, NGOs, corporations etc. Without launching into my own essay right here, I would simply say that the drive for change must and can only come from the individual, however this must must must follow through to an institutional level. You are right that we can’t sit around and expect the significant change required to come unprompted from governments tied up in a profoundly unhealthy way with corporations, but such institutions are the only entities capable of enacting change to the degree required to make a difference.

    Your first point in the two-part answer to the question of ‘will your changes really make a difference’ correctly highlights that action is more important now than ever, but no one individual is capable of even remotely changing our current global trajectory, and I would assert that achieving the level of change required through the unprompted actions of individuals is even more unlikely than the unprompted actions of government. This is because we can make lifestyle changes which have a measurably beneficial impact on our personal CO2 output, but this is to ignore the over-arching mechanisms manifest within advanced society and industry which will continue if left unchecked to blaze a path in the wrong direction. We can switch from deodorant in a spray can to roll-on, but the ban on CFCs as part of the Montreal Protocol doesn’t include its use in rocket propulsion in military weaponry. It is a dangerous possibility to believe that we are making the required degree of change because of abrupt changes to our personal lifestyles, all the while hurtling towards a very dangerous immediate future.

    Your second point in the two-part answer is completely legitimate, and makes complete sense at a personal and philosophical level.

    I feel my point stands that were things to be judged at a personal lifestyle level, yours as a non-driving vegan is way ahead of the curve, and rather than pursue that even further it would be more productive in terms both of numeric quantities of CO2 output and broader understanding and approach to achieve basic changes and improvements to bring more 21st Century American citizens closer to your level of CO2 output and understanding of the issue.

    That being said, you are completely right that your ace is 100% personal accountability, and ultimately the only changes which you can guarantee are your own.

    I still think you’re too hard on yourself! And I remain deeply sceptical of the accuracy and effectiveness of carbon footprint calculators. However I think it’s pretty inspirational what you’re doing, and am very interested to see where it takes you and what benefits and opportunities it creates. You’re already making a positive difference beyond just yourself by both having this plan and documenting it so well.

    • kris says:

      Thank you for the wonderfully thoughtful comments, Oliver.

      I absolutely agree that institutional action is critical to making any real progress. I wholeheartedly applaud your ambitions to make a difference in UK politics.

      And I share your skepticism of the accuracy of carbon footprint calculators. In my experience thus far, however, the totals generally err on the side of being too low, by not taking into account the second- and third-tier effects of our consumption. But the efforts to quantify our impact, though rough, are still critical to measuring the problem and our progress. In the end, the uncertainty of carbon footprint calculations should encourage greater diligence and action, as opposed to business-as-usual consumption.

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