Brazilian Taiko

the construction of Japanese drums in the Kaito family workshop, in Taubaté (SP)




Taiko, Japanese-Brazilian Music, Organology, Luthery


Mass Japanese immigration to Brazil, which began in the 20th century, brought with it a rich arsenal of customs and cultural manifestations, many of them passed on to Brazilian descendants. Thus, numerous ethnic artistic groups were able to flourish in the country, including taiko ensembles, percussive groups of traditional drums that became popular among Japanese-Brazilian communities. To meet this demand, drums began to be built in Brazil, seeking to adapt Japanese techniques to the new reality. This article addresses, based on on-site observation and interviews, the process of building Brazilian taiko in the Kaito family workshop, in Taubaté, a city of the countryside of the state of São Paulo. By describing the stages of construction of two different drums, we were able to understand how the taiko maker adapted the Japanese tradition to the Brazilian reality, using local raw materials, as well as national processes and machinery, and giving these taiko drums their own Brazilian characteristics and identity.


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Author Biographies

Flávio Rodrigues, State University of Campinas, Brazil

Flávio Rodrigues is a Master's student in Music, with an emphasis on Ethnomusicology, at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), where he develops the research project “The drums that vibrate in us: the community of taiko practice in the city of Atibaia (SP)” under guidance from Suzel Ana Reily. He attended postgraduate studies in Preventive and Social Music Therapy at Faculdades Metropolitanas Unidas (2017) and graduated in Music at Faculdade de Artes Alcântara Machado (2015). Since 2020, he has been a member of the thematic project “O Musicar Local: new trails for ethnomusicology”. He also works as a musician, composer and educator.

Suzel Ana Reily, State University of Campinas, Brazil

Suzel Ana Reily is Full Professor of Ethnomusicology in the Music Department of the Institute of Arts, State University of Campinas. She completed her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of São Paulo in 1990 and soon afterwards took up a teaching and research position at Queen's University Belfast, where she remained until June 2015. His book, 'Voices of the Magi: enchanted journeys in southeast Brazil', was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2002. He has organized four volumes: 'The Musical Human: Rethinking John Blacking's Ethnomusicology in the 21st Century' (Ashgate, 2006); with Katherine Brucher, 'Brass Bands of the World: Militarism, Colonial Legacies, and Local Music Making' (Ashgate 2013); with Jonathan Dueck, 'The Oxford Handbook of Music in World Christianities' (Oxford University Press, 2016), which was awarded an honorable mention of the 2018 Ellen Koskoff Edited Volume Prize; 'Routledge Companion to the Study of Local Musicking' (with K Brucher, Routledge, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Ellen Koskoff Edited Volume Proze; two special issues of international journals: 'Brazilian Musics, Brazilian Identities' (special issue of 'British Journal of Ethnomusicology', 2001); 'The Sounds of Processions' (thematic issue of 'Yale Journal of Music and Religion', 2016); a thematic dossier: 'Music and Memory' ('Música e Cultura', 2014).


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How to Cite

Rodrigues, Flávio, and Suzel Ana Reily. 2023. “Brazilian Taiko: The Construction of Japanese Drums in the Kaito Family Workshop, in Taubaté (SP)”. Per Musi 24 (December):1-25.



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