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 started classical piano at age 6 and stopped short of attaining UK’s DipABRSM teaching diploma when she left Hong Kong to come to Canada for university. Her first exposure to Taiko was through a workshop with Calgary’s Todoroki Taiko in 2006, and subsequently more workshops with Kita No Taiko years later. Clara had her debut as an apprentice with Uminari Taiko in 2015, and has been learning and performing with the group since.

Anne Feeny

After experiencing the sound and energy of a taiko performance, Anne’s curiosity was piqued and she sought out a local taiko class. She quickly fell in love with taiko and joined her first group, Kelowna’s Yamabiko Taiko, in 2017. She also played with Vancouver’s Katari Taiko before relocating to Victoria and joining Uminari Taiko in 2021. Anne enjoys learning and practicing new songs with her teammates and hopes that the group’s performances inspire others to learn taiko as well. 

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.

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

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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