More About Ho Etsu Taiko
More information about Ho Etsu Taiko of Chicago including its History and information about membership
taiko, kumi-daiko, history, membership, ensemble, members, taiko group
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More About Ho Etsu Taiko

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We’ve put together this website to help you get to know Ho Etsu – just follow any of these links (or keep scrolling to learn about our history and membership). If you need more information feel free to contact us.

Who We Are



News & Schedule

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Ho Etsu Alumni

Talented Creators, Dynamic Performers, Friends Forever









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History of Ho Etsu

Ho Etsu Taiko began in 1997 as an off-shoot of the Midwest Buddhist Temple Taiko group, Chicago’s first and oldest taiko group with origins dating back to 1977. Rev. Koshin Ogui, the temple’s former minister, sponsored the formation of our ensemble and gave us our name: Ho Etsu, meaning “to spread joy” – a spirit we endeavor to reflect in our approach to taiko. Through the years Ho Etsu has grown from a temple youth group to a powerful performing ensemble in its own right, learning traditional kumi-daiko styles with an emphasis on self-expression and creativity.


Ho Etsu represents a passionate energy and lively spirit, and we strive to infuse taiko’s cultural legacy with new vitality. Part of our creative process includes collaborating with other taiko groups across the country and around the world. And we have extended our collaborations to musicians and performance artists beyond taiko. We have found that collaborations always result in something fresh and unique and that inspires intensity, drive and creativity to carry on taiko’s growth in North America.


Our music draws equally from traditional kumi-daiko musical styles and from a broad variety of contemporary music – a uniquely Chicago sound with global roots. We hope to honor our history, celebrate our present, and spark enthusiasm for the future of this exhilarating, heart-pounding form of artistic expression.


In 2015, Ho Etsu became a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. We hope to use our non-profit status to help extend our reach through performances, workshops and other cultural endeavors – spreading joy through each and every drumbeat.


Becoming a Member of Ho Etsu

Individuals start their journey to Ho Etsu through different paths; after seeing one of our performances, referrals by members or friends of Ho Etsu, or through our entry level workshops. We’re always interested in talking to individuals who share our passion for taiko.


Taiko focuses on drumming and rhythms of course, but as an art-form it is so much more. There is a visual aspect of taiko that requires physical and mental discipline. Beyond drums there are a variety of percussion and melodic instruments to master. There is a teaching aspect – we hold almost as many workshops as performances and often we combine the two. There is a creativity aspect as we compose most of our own pieces and we enthusiastically collaborate with other artists (taiko groups and artists outside the realm of taiko.) Finally, there is the ensemble. The taiko performance is only as strong as the ensemble itself. Teamwork above all else is our key to success.


With our schedule of workshops, rehearsals and performances we don’t have a set schedule for potential new member enrollment. Rather, we work it in to our schedule as opportunities arise. The section below provides a little more detail about becoming a member of Ho Etsu and some of the commitments that all members make to the group. If you’d like more information we’d be happy to get in touch with you. Just go to our Contact page and send us a note.

The steps to becoming a member include:

  • Taiko 101 workshop – these workshops are open to the public and provide a good basis for taiko.
  • Advanced Taiko workshop – these sessions are also open to the public and can provide potential new members with the training to advance their skills.
  • Classes – these range from 4-6 weeks in length and typically focus on a specific style of taiko or a particular composition. We end the class with a recital to showcase the progress of the participants.
  • Practice “sit-in” – potential members are invited by Ho Etsu leadership to sit through a number of our practice and rehearsal sessions to better understand the “behind-the-scenes” efforts that go into full-time membership.
  • Apprenticeship – at the discretion of the group, potential members may enter a 1 year apprenticeship period. During this time potential members will practice with the ensemble, learn on the side, and take part in show preparations. The 1 year apprenticeship is a mandatory pre-requisite to full membership.

We’ve identified a series of “commitments” that we believe are critical elements to successful membership. We agree to these with each member as they become part of the ensemble. Below are a few examples of the commitments that we expect from all Ho Etsu members.

  • Commitment to develop oneself as a taiko player and musician
  • Commitment to rehearsals
  • Commitment to be respectful to the art of taiko, Ho Etsu and ensemble members
  • Commitment to publicly represent taiko and Ho Etsu in a professional and respectful manner
  • Commitment to community volunteerism
  • Commitment to improving the ensemble


Our Commitment to Inclusion

Ho Etsu remains committed to spreading joy through taiko. This joy doesn’t discriminate. This joy is meant for all people, of every race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality and ability status.


As an ensemble, we draw strength from the diversity of our members, and support from the enthusiasm of our audiences, each different than the last.


Now, more than ever, we see our art as an expression of the world we want to live in: a world enriched by diversity and inclusive of all people. Our music is meant for each of you, no matter where you come from, no matter who you are. After all, our hearts all beat the same.