Origins of Taiko:
Thousands of years ago, two divine beings named Izanagi and Izanami were summoned by the gods and given the task of creating the first land on earth. To assist in this task, the gods gave Izanagi and Izanami a great gift; a heavenly spear decorated with jewels. The two deities made their way to the bridge between heaven and earth, lowered the spear, and churned the sea below. They stirred the sea for days, looking to churn up any sign of land, before frustration set in. They finally gave up and pulled the spear out of the ocean. That’s when a single drop of water fell from the head of the spear, and back to earth. When it landed, an island was formed, and Izanagi and Izanami descended down to earth to live on this island. Upon arrival, the two deities decided to marry, and from their union was born ōyashim, the eight great islands of the Japanese chain.
Now with a place to live, the earth was soon to be inhabited as Izanami became pregnant with a son. Months later, Izanami died giving birth and Izanagi fell into a fit of rage, taking out his anger on the world. Just before falling into a state of total hopelessness, Izanagi decided to visit his wife in the underworld in hopes of reviving her, but she had eaten food prepared in the furnace of the damned, thus her soul had to remain. Before returning to earth, Izanagi needed to cleanse himself from the filth of the underworld. During his cleansing, he begot a daughter Amaterasu from the tears of his left eye, and a son, Tsukuyomi from the tears of his right.
Amaterasu became the ruler of the sun, and Tsukuyomi was named the ruler of the moon. For many years, the two of them shared the sky until Tsukuyomi became bored and started teasing his sister. Eventually Amerterasu was so irritated by the games of her brother that she deemed her brother an evil god. This rift between brother and sister caused the splitting of the sun and moon, creating a separation we now know as night and day. Amaterasu was so angry with her brother; she wandered into a cave and rolled a giant boulder to block the entrance, vowing never to come out again.
The world fell into darkness. Every god tried to plea, threaten, and even force the boulder away from the entrance, but to no avail. The gods knew that if Amaterasu did not emerge from the cave, all plants and animals would perish and the world would be empty once again. This is when a wild and wily goddess named Uzume came along. She looked around and walked over to a barrel full of snakes sitting next to the cave entrance. Uzume simply smiled, opened the barrel, dumped out the snakes, and turned it upside down. She began playing the most boisterous and frenetic dancing on the barrel anyone had ever seen. As the gods began to laugh and sing, she started pounding on the barrel. Amaterasu heard the ruckus outside and wondered what could be going on that would cause the gods to forget about the darkness. Curious, she rolled the stone away from the entrance, emerged from the cave, and sunlight returned to the world, and that is when the art of Taiko Drumming began…