Taiko drumming group open to students, local community


Andrew Silver

Anaguma Eisa is a taiko drumming group located at the UW-Madison campus that performs at a variety of events.

Alyssa Washington, Staff Writer

If you were ever interested in Japanese culture and martial arts, Eisa Taiko Drumming, an Okinawan art form, is a good place to start.

Eisa, which was originally performed for a good send off to spirits, is also performed on the last day of the Obon festival. The last day of the Obon festival to many Okinawans, is an exciting day. Part of the tradition allows men and women to chant and dance to traditional Japanese music set to drumming.

After World War II, Eisa transformed into the modern art form we see today. Eisa is a form of dance specific to the Ryukyu islands of southern Japan. It incorporates elements of martial arts, dance, as well as traditional and contemporary music into Taiko drumming. The difference between Mainland taiko and Eisa, is that Mainland taiko is stationary, and uses two drum sticks (also known as bachi) while Eisa is closer to martial arts.

The three types of drums for eisa are the Odaiko, a barrel shaped drum similar to mainland drums, Shime-daiko, a medium sized drum, a more stylistic choreography similar to drums used in Noh theater. And lastly, the Paranku, a small hand held single faced drum similar to those used in Buddhist ceremonies.

There are a few taiko drumming groups in Madison, one of which is Anaguma Eisa (Badger Eisa,) – a student organization founded by Lucas Schneider in 2013. This taiko drumming group is located at the UW-Madison campus.

Anaguma Eisa’s mission is to encourage people of all ages to develop a full understanding of Okinawa through culture and performing arts. Anaguma Eisa evolved from West High School’s Okinawan Taiko Drummers of Wisconsin.

Schneider fell in love with Eisa while attending high school. Schneider commuted from Middleton High School to Madison West High School, where he practiced taiko drumming on Mondays and Thursdays each week.

After graduation, it became too difficult to continue taiko drumming at West with work and other responsibilities getting in the way. But Schneider wasn’t ready to give up, so he created UW-Madison’s Anaguma Eisa.

The current members of Anaguma Eisa are five West High taiko members and four UW members. Three of the West High members are currently attending Madison College. Anaguma Eisa performs local events, and events in other cities, such as weddings, parades, and school orientations. They also perform at the Sakura Festival in Washington DC each year. The Sakura Festival also airs locally here in Madison.

For more information, please visit anagumaeisa.org. Everyone is welcomed to join.