The Music of Obon

Obon Classics: Special Lecture and Performance

Saturday, August 15 from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

YouTube Live Stream

Admission: Free

It’s Obon season, the Buddhist custom of welcoming one’s ancestors back home. The Japan Foundation will present a special lecture on some of the traditional Japanese musical instruments used for the Bon Odori, a summertime folk dance festival that is the highlight of Obon. This lecture will focus on the history of Japanese music and will cover taiko, shamisen, koto, and fue.

The guest artists, Isaku Kageyama, Sumie Kaneko, and David Wells, will demonstrate the traditional Obon performances on the various instruments. At the end of the program, they will play together to showcase the sound that creates Obon festival music.

Guests can participate in the Q&A session during the session.

To RSVP, please visit The Japan Foundation’s Eventbrite page.

About Isaku Kageyama

Isaku Kageyama is a taiko performer and educator working with Los Angeles Taiko Institute and Asano Taiko US UnitOne. His resume includes performances on networks such as NBC and VH1, venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and tours of across the world. Formerly a principal drummer of premiere ensemble Amanojaku, he holds a Bachelor of Music from the Berklee College of Music and a Master of Arts from Longy School of Music of Bard College. Kageyama is also a two-time National Odaiko (large drum) Champion, becoming the youngest person to win highest honors at the Mt. Fuji Odaiko Contest in 2000 and Hokkaido in 2003.

For more information, please visit his website.

About Sumie Kaneko

Sumie Kaneko creates music that spans a millennium. A master in the traditional repertoire of these ancient instruments, she has also pioneered their use in jazz and experimental music, through solo and group performances worldwide. She has collaborated with such artists as Pulitzer Winner Paula Vogel, Gamelan Galak Tika’s Evan Zyporyn, RONIN’s Nik Bärtsch, taiko artist Kenny Endo, Kaoru Watanabe, and gidayu-shamisen virtuoso Yumiko Tanaka. She has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Blue Note NY, TED talk, Regattabar, Getty Center, Boston Ballet, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

To learn more, please visit her website.

About David Wells

David Wells began his musical journey as a clarinet player under the guidance of his father, a professional jazz musician. In 2003, he discovered Stanford Taiko, performing internationally with the group and eventually serving as one of the group’s Artistic Directors. Since then, Wells has trained extensively and has performed with such groups as the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, TAIKOPROJECT, Prota, On Ensemble, and Unit Souzou. He is an instructor at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute and an avid composer, having created works for all of the ensembles with which he has performed in addition to several commissioned works.

Please visit his website for more information.