Roku san“I started my drumming practice before I left my mother’s womb”, Koryu founder Roku-san used to fondly say when asked about the origin of his passion for Taiko drumming, reminiscing that it is Taiko that helped him overcome all the sorrows and difficulties he encountered throughout his life.

Even at a young age, Master Roku-san’s dedication to Taiko drumming was seen as an obsession by some, giving way to names like ‘the Taiko madman’ and ‘Taiko crazy’, but as his talents as a master Taiko drummer and composer emerged, the chants quickly changed tune to ‘Taiko no Roku-san’ - ‘The Matster Taiko Drummer Roku-san.’ He began inspiring people with his drumming and created a strong following of supporters, making a name for himself within the community and becoming an indispensable member of Kutchan town where he lived his entire life.

One stormy day in 1963, Roku-san watched on as powerful winds and rain battered Mt. Youtei. The deep feeling that the beauty and majesty of the volcano evoked inside him lead him to compose his most famous Taiko song “Yotei Daiko.”

Some of Roku-san’s most famous work as a composer included songs such as:

  • ‘Niseko Renzan Daiko’ (Drums of the Niseko Mountain Range)
  • ‘Fukidashi Daiko’ (The Drumming of playful Spring Water)
  • 1976 - ‘Youtei Daiko’ & ‘Niseko Renzan Daiko’ are recoded for the album ‘Japanese Taiko’
  • 1977 - Roku-san sings ‘Hokkai Mohonatsu’ making him Japan’s oldest debut Enka singer
  • 1997 - ‘Youtei Daiko’ is designated as a ‘folk song to be preserved’ by the town of Kutchan making it a cultural treasure
  • 2009 - Awarded the 45th ‘Hokkaido Cultural Foundation Preservation Award’

Throughout his life, Roku-san would make rounds teaching Taiko at local schools, performing charity events at schools for the disabled and homes for the elderly hoping to promote the Taiko art form and culturally engage the younger generations.

Thanks to his passion and dedication, he is recognized as the pioneer of Taiko drumming in Hokkido and was awarded the 45th Hokkaido Cultural Foundation Preservation Award in 2009. He worked relentlessly drumming well into his late 80’s and almost up until the day he passed away in February, 2010.

Watch a video of Roku-san playing the drums here.