One of the great things about wandering around Epcot’s World Showcase lagoon is the many different sounds that can be heard in its countries. One such sound sometimes can be heard from across the lagoon. Several times daily powerful and rhythmic drums can be heard coming from the Japan pavilion. The group Matsuriza was founded in 1998 by Takemasa Ishikura and performs 15 minute sets showcasing Taiko drumming. Taiko is Japanese for “fat drum” and these drums have been used in Japanese culture for over 2,000 years. Originally these types of drums were used in the battlefields in order to scare the enemy and issue commands. Later in Japanese history Taiko was used in everyday life in villages to signal daily events and celebrate special ceremonies. In the early 1950s Taiko began to change and take on its modern form that can now be heard at the Japan Pavilion in Epcot.
Several times daily you can catch Matsuriza, which means festival of drumming, preforming on the Goju-no-to pagoda balcony. This pagoda can be seen throughout World Showcase since it stands at 85 feet tall. It consists of five levels that represent the elements from which Buddhists believe everything was created: earth, water, fire, wind and sky. Every show varies in song and will showcase 3-4 performers at a time; most of the group consists of female drummers. Different Taiko drums are used daily so if you have time to take in more than one show you’ll definitely be in for a treat. This show is often one of the best attended shows in Epcot because you do not have to enter the pavilion to see it. Many guests will be strolling along the World Showcase lagoon and, before they know it, they’ve stopped to be mesmerized by the drums’ melodies. Also unlike many of the other musical acts in Epcot here you will actually learn a little bit about the history of Taiko.
The drums that are used in the daily shows can range from 6 inches all the way up to 6 feet tall. In addition to the drums, one of the performers may play a fue, or a bamboo flute, depending on their song selection. Along with the unique drums you will also get to see the performers in standard Taiko attire. During many of the songs the group will play begin playing the same rhythms but then each one will take time out for a solo. During the solo it is important to keep your eye on that performer as they showcase impressive footwork and other unique poses and drumming techniques. The force that the drums are struck with is great but these amazing performers make it look effortless
The next time you are near Japan and hear the drums in distance make sure to stop by and check out Matsuriza. After each show as the drums are being put away you may walk up to the stage to speak to the performers; they are always more than happy to answer questions. If you enjoy the Taiko music you can also pick up CDs and DVDs inside the nearby Mitsukoshi Department store.
Contributed by: Shalon Given (NDI#167) Shalon is the DDL Music Blogger.