Japanese drummers bring cultural diversity to De Anza College’s Welcome Week


De Anza College’s “Welcome Week” for incoming freshman and returning students went with a bang- literally as San Jose Taiko, a Japanese American drumming group, greeted students in the Campus Center.

Five drummers banged to the beat of the drum in unison, dressed in bright colors and traditional taiko costumes playing rhythmical performances of various songs. Students gather in the Campus Center, munching on their lunches and hanging with friends to watch the spectacular show.

Alejandro Dauget, 24, biology major and Rhonda Doan, 20, biology major agreed on the awesomeness of cultural diversity that the Taiko groups brings to De Anza. “I like this,” said Dauget, “They [De Anza] should have this more often. You see it for free and it’s a mix of everything.”

“Yeah, I like it because I relate to it because I’m Asian,” said Rhonda. “I would like to see more diversity of cultures like this.”

Inter Club Council and Clubs held this event and was funded by the De Anza Associated Body. ICC Advisor La Donna Yumori- Kaku stressed the importance of bringing cultural diversity to De Anza. “It’s about sharing cultural experiences. You’re gonna get your DJs and hip hop music, but where and when are you going to hear San Jose Taiko,” said La Donna. She explained that De Anza brings variety to student by bringing the musically and visually pleasing Taiko group.

Shane Vidanage, 20, Business Administration major felt “welcomed and enjoyed the beats” of the Taiko Club. “It’s pretty cool,” said Vidanage. “I like EDM and it sounds similar so I like that and how it’s interactive and it’s live music.”

As the Taiko group began wrapping up, they brought in student volunteers to try out drum rolling.  

Michelle Tokutomi, 18, undeclared major, and a member of the Mountain View Taiko troupe, participated in the student demonstration. “I love this,” said Tokutomi. “I walked out of my photography class, heard this sound and was like ‘I know this sound’ and I actually see my friends playing out here and it’s pretty cool.”Tokutomi has been playing for 13 years and has joined the San Jose Taiko troupe before to host the National Taiko Conference in the Bay Area.

“I think this is really great. This shows the culture at De Anza-the diversity at De Anza has, that’s it’s something to appreciate” said Tokutomi.

The San Jose Taiko Group is guided by artistic director Franco Imperial and artistic staff Geoff Noone. “We go to all different places, school, travel nationally and internationally” said Noone. “But it’s great playing Taiko because we have this opportunity to expose people to something they might not see.”Franco Imperial has been playing Taiko for 20 years and explained that it’s a lot of fun to play. “They say that Taiko is a mixture of martial arts and athletics all in this tiny little package,” said Imperial. What makes Taiko so special that the costumes they were known as “Happi Coats” are hand made by the taiko group.  

The San Jose Taiko group certainly impressed De Anza students with a feeling of diversity and culture that De Anza College will never forget.