iEXPerience Program: iCLA Students Attend Wadaiko Experience with Nirasaki Technical High School

iCLA students try Taiko with Nirasaki Technical High School students.

To study the Japanese drum or Wadaiko (also known as Taiko), iCLA students visited Yamanashi Pref. Technical High school as part of iCLA’s iEXPerience Program.

Organized by iCLA, the iEXPerience Program promotes a deeper understanding of Yamanashi or Japanese culture through visits to culturally important places in Yamanashi Prefecture. The program emphasizes experiential activities outside of the classroom, where students learn from professionals in the field or iCLA professors specializing in the subject. The program is open to all iCLA students.

Nirasaki Technical High School’s Taiko Club started in 2000 and is renowned in the prefecture for their impressive performances. The high school students are taught by top-level masters and the group performs regularly around the prefecture. Their YouTube Channel features their impressive annual concert titled TANREI: 山梨県立韮崎工業高校太鼓隊【公式】. The club has won numerous awards.

The program kicked off with Interdisciplinary Arts professor Dr. Mike Blow’s explanation on the ancient origins of Wadaiko and the history of Kumi-daiko (taiko ensemble) as a modern performance art, which provided an informative preface to the activities of the day. Upon arrival, iCLA students were enthusiastically welcomed by Nirasaki Technical High School students and ushered into the club room full of instruments. Each piece of Taiko equipment and its importance as part of an ensemble was explained.

In groups, iCLA students tried their hand at Taiko, and the high schoolers guided iCLA students in playing different phrases. Students asked the club members questions about Taiko and their club practice.  At the end of the Taiko experience, the Taiko Club gave a passionate performance for iCLA students, demonstrating their remarkable skill as a musical group.

iCLA students and Nirasaki Technical High School students of the Taiko Club pose together.

The program concluded with a guided tour around the Nirasaki Technical High School campus, where iCLA students were introduced to the different programs offered by the school and the facilities dedicated to them. The tour provided an understanding of high school life in Japan.

Students were also able to visit the Nirasaki Heiwa Kannon statue as part of the program. The statue stands at 18.3 meters tall, overlooking Nirasaki City. The statue depicting the Bodhisattva of peace was built as a prayer of peace for the city residents and the safety of mountain climbers.

“My favorite part was talking to students and watching their performance. Understanding how taiko groups practice and perform, seeing the intricacy of the performance, and new Japanese words were things I learned from the program.”

Eden, iCLA Short-Term Study Abroad Student


iEXPerience: Local Temple Tour and Haiku Workshop
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iEXPerience: Erinji Temple for Tea Ceremony and Calligraphy Experience
iEXPerience: Wadaiko with Yamanashi High School Students