In recent years Brisbane has seen a dramatic rise in the interest and deeper understanding of Japanese cultural practices. One of these cultural practices is Japanese drumming “Wadaiko” or simply know is Taiko (Drum).
Back in 2012 Brisbane’s first locally based Taiko group was formed. The groups name is Toko-ton and is made up of 3 experienced taiko players.
Chie Kajiwara comes from Kanagawa, just south of Tokyo. Chie was involved in the music and dance scene from a young age. She gained valuable performance experience in these years prior to moving to Australia 10 years ago.Chie was one of the original members of Gold Coast taiko group Kizuna before she started Toko-Ton along with Steve and Shinobu.
Shinobu Takebata originally from Kyoto spent almost 10 years in a Melbourne based taiko team Wadaiko Rindo before moving to Brisbane and connecting up with Chie and Steve.
Steve Mason originally from Melbourne, moved to Japan in 2006 where he did several things including performing as a DJ in various locations around Tokyo. After moving back to Australia, Steve joined Gold Coast taiko group Kizuna in 2009, shortly after they had formed.
The motivation behind Toko-ton is to entertain, but also really to take seriously the art form of Wadaiko so that they can attempt to deliver an authentic cultural experience to their audience. The group very much acknowledges that Australians are becoming more and more aware of what “real Japanese culture” is. In actual fact, the name Toko-Ton not only sounds like the beat of a drum, but in the Japanese language it means putting in 100%.
The members return to Japan each year to build on their knowledge and experience while connecting to the origins of taiko, at the same time building on their unique style.
Over the past 4 years, Toko-ton has performed at literally hundreds of events and iconic locations. Some of these include recently all the Queensland store openings for Japanese top fashion brand UNIQLO, Mercedes-Benz new car launch, BrisAsia Festival, GOMA, Brisbane city hall, Queen St, Chinatown and Brunswick St Malls, Suncorp Stadium, Courier Mail Piazza, Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Roma Street Parklands and many, many more.
The group also visit schools and businesses all over the region doing workshops and performances. This includes a 2015 Queensland regional cultural tour for the Consulate-General of Japan. This tour saw Toko-ton travel all the way to Northern Queensland and everywhere between sharing Taiko with many people in the schools and broader community that had had very little exposure to Japanese culture, let alone taiko.They also run weekly taiko classes and one-off workshops for public throughout the year.