Okinawan Taiko Drummers of Wisconsin

2015 Group Photo

The Okinawan Taiko Drummers of Wisconsin (OTDW) is an Eisa group based out of West High School in Madison, Wisconsin. Eisa is a form of folk-dance specific to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan which fuses Okinawan music with elements of martial arts, dance, and drumming. The performers either play a large, barrel shaped drum (odaiko) which is worn by a sash over the shoulder, or a hand drum. The paranku, one of the hand drums, is small, round, and single faced. The shime-daiko is a two-faced hand drum tied together with rope, and is performed the most stylistically.

OTDW began in 1997 at Shorewood Hills Elementary School after Director Heidi Hastings moved with her family to the Madison school district. The taiko group followed her kids though school until it found its permanent home as an after school club at West. Over the years, around 300 students have participated in the group and have performed in hundreds of performances. The majority of OTDW's performances are in South Central Wisconsin, however, since 2005 they have annually attended the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.