Taiko is like playing a team sport, playing a musical instrument, acting on stage and walking a spiritual path all at the same time.
-- Tiffany Tamaribuchi

Taiko, literally big drum, originated in the festivals and rituals of ancient Japan's agricultural society. Unlike other high-culture art forms such as Kabuki, Noh dancing or the tea ceremony, taiko is community-based and is the most widely practiced popular-culture art form in contemporary Japanese society.

Taiko is played at local festivals throughout Japan, and local taiko masters have orally passed on its techniques for hundreds of years. Most performers at such festivals are nonprofessional, local residents, and many of them are school children. Taiko plays a strong role in promoting a sense of community and cultivating teamwork skills among the residents.

Over the last fifty years, taiko has become internationally recognized as a form of performance art. Many contemporary drumming groups have been formed in Japan and other countries, including the United States.

Although modern American taiko began in the Japanese-American community, many people who now play taiko do not have an Asian heritage. American taiko groups perform both traditional Japanese folk pieces and contemporary pieces that blend taiko with other music and dance forms.