About Uminari Taiko

Uminari Taiko is a non-profit, community-focused drumming collective based in Victoria, British Columbia. We perform regularly in Victoria and around Vancouver Island at schools, festivals and private functions and also share the joy of taiko drumming through classes and workshops.

Uminari can be translated to “roaring sea”—the sound of waves crashing onto rocky shores and the silences in between. It captures the essence of taiko and the windy, wave-swept conditions which are common on parts of our island.

Our History

In 2002, six like-minded individuals (Brad Lewis, Marcin Sawicki, Jacob Derksen, Margie Parikh, Valerie Watanabe and Deb Shepherd) founded Uminari Taiko, with a vision of sharing and promoting the art of Japanese taiko drumming through instruction and performances.

The formative years consisted on practising on old car tires covered with duct tape, progressing to one-sided drums fashioned from sections of sewer pipe. Eventually, thanks to sufficient funding from sponsoring organizations, Uminari Taiko acquired authentic equipment.


Since its inception, Uminari Taiko has received significant support from the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society. Support has also come from the Victoria Foundation, the National Association of Japanese Canadians, and the Vancouver Island community.

Our Members

Arlin Ablaza

In 2017 Arlin discovered an energetic taiko performance at a Tokyo street fair and decided taiko would be her next passion. She signed up for workshops and classes with Uminari Taiko right away.  Her previous musical history combined with a 20+ years of training in Japanese martial arts makes taiko a perfect fit. She enjoys learning new songs & rhythms with a unique ensemble.

Clara Chin

Clara was originally from Hong Kong and had lived in Alberta since coming to Canada as a teenager. She enjoys the drum beat and could be found attending anything from West African drum circles to pow wows and jazz performances. Her first exposure to taiko was through a workshop with Todoroki Taiko, a Calgary group which is now defunct. She subsequently attended two workshops and a performance by Kita No Taiko in Edmonton. Clara particularly appreciates the aesthetic elegance of taiko drumming and the community energy that comes from playing together, as she quotes “one person does not make a performance.”

Douglas James

A longtime, fifth-generation Victorian, Douglas has been interested in Japanese music, language and culture for a long time and taiko drumming seemed like a natural fit. He has always been interested in drumming since his early days in high school as a member of the school band. The rhythm and dancing in taiko is always a challenge and very enjoyable. But getting to bang out one’s frustrations on taiko drums is always a natural high for him. Douglas also dragon boats, and so taiko is a natural complement to dragon boating.

Susan Kurushima

Susan took taiko classes from the founding members in the early days.  She remembers Marcin teaching the basics on garbage cans and sewer pipe drums and she had so much fun she knew she wanted to continue.  Since then she’s been inspired by many American and Japanese taiko players at the annual conferences attended by Uminari Taiko and she incorporates that learning into the group’s repertoire and skill set.

Tsugio Kurushima

Tsugio has been involved with Uminari Taiko since its inception helping to organize the Katari Workshop that led to the formation of UT. He joined UT in 2004 and has become an avid taiko devotee. He enjoys sharing taiko through performing and teaching and attending taiko conferences. Taiko not only gives him creative satisfaction but also helps him connect with his Japanese cultural roots.

Cadence Mandybura

Music has always been in Cadence’s life, starting with classical piano as a child then saxophone in high school. She fell in love with percussion through South Indian Carnatic music in 2009 and West African drumming when she returned home to Calgary. Always wanting to learn taiko, she began classes with Uminari Taiko after moving to Victoria in 2015. She’s been performing with the ensemble since 2017, first as an apprentice then full member in 2018.

Ken Murata

Ken has always been keen on activities which involve hitting and throwing things, hence his captivation to certain sports and percussion instruments. He played the side drum in a drum and bugle band in Army Cadets – then he was the lead drummer in the Royal Military College Pipe Band. After retirement to Victoria he was made aware of the existence of Uminari Taiko, and he became an apprentice in 2009.

Gayle Nye

Gayle attended her first Uminari Taiko workshop at 50 years young and has been playing to her heart’s delight ever since. Approaching taiko as musical conversation, she especially enjoys performing and facilitating introductory workshops while meeting and encouraging new students. 

Gayle helps to build Uminari Taiko’s ki and kumi with a positive approach to learning, mentoring and supporting the group in practice and in play.

Teruyo Sano

Japan-born Teruyo grew up with the sound of taiko. In 1992 she encountered Kumi Daiko then Tokyo’s Oedo Sukeroku Daiko before performing on The Ship for World Youth at sea as well as during official visits at ports of call. In 1997 she joined Montreal’s Arashi Daiko after a fortunate meeting with its leader Mikio. After moving to Victoria Teruyo joined Uminari Taiko in 2003 as a most experienced player.

Today, Teruyo’s taiko life is influenced by attending regional gatherings and North American Taiko Conferences.

Kana Tsuji (apprentice)

Growing up in Japan Kana and her family joined her hometown’s Hayashi Taiko group learning to play Taiko, Fue and other instruments for over 10 years. Today she remembers the excitement of learning new songs and performing for her community with family and friends.

Kana joined Uminari Taiko in 2020 and she’s very excited to be able to do what she loves again, and looking forward to future experiences with the group!

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