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Roy and PJ Hirabayashi, founding directors of San Jose Taiko (SJT) in 1973, have helped move the taiko (Japanese drum) art form forward through innovation, collaboration, and outstanding performance, training, and education programs. Roy is a co-founder of SJT and PJ is the Artistic Director Emeritus. SJT is the third taiko group to begin in the United States, and now there are over 500 groups in North America. They helped create a new Asian American art form infusing the traditional rhythms of Japanese drumming with musical and cultural influences from their cultural context as young people in the 1970s U.S. landscape. They are both composers, performers, teachers, producers and have toured internationally. They look forward to celebrating 50-years of playing taiko in 2023.

Roy and PJ were on the advisory council to form the North American Taiko Conference (NATC) in 1995 and have participated as workshop leaders,

lecturers, and curators. Roy was NATC advisory council chair for several conferences and was the line producer for the last three Taiko Jam concerts. They both currently serve on the Taiko Community Alliance Advisory Council.

Roy is a founding member of 1stACT and the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institute (MALI). He is a board member of the Japantown Community Congress of San Jose, the School of Arts & Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, and Silicon Valley Creates. PJ focuses her work on “TaikoPeace”, an initiative she founded to inspire positive social change and a peaceful world. “Peace” is her acronym for “Partnerships, Empathy, AND Creative Empowerment”. She is co-founder of “Creatives for Compassionate Communities”, a movement to create more compassionate communities through the transformational power of art. PJ and Roy are senior fellows of the Silicon Valley American Leadership Forum.

In 2011, they transitioned from their leadership in SJT and also received the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts “National Heritage Fellowship”, a lifetime honor in Folk & Traditional Arts. In 2012, they were given the Foreign Minister of Japan Commendation Award for sharing the Japanese culture in the US through their taiko work. They have received the “Japanese American of the Biennium” from the National Japanese American Citizens League, “Artist Legacy Laureate” from Silicon Valley Creates, and the “Cornerstone of the Arts” from the San Jose Arts Commission and Office of Cultural Affairs. They are also advisors to the Alliance for Traditional Arts’ Taproot Initiative to advocate for a program to support the work and vitality of traditional artists around the nation.

PJ and Roy can be contacted at:,

Roy and PJ's Workshops:

What? Play taiko with Roy and PJ?

A master class in kumidaiko core values

Roy & PJ Hirabayashi


The founders of San Jose Taiko will give a participatory inside look to the groupʼs steadfast guiding principles: Kata, Ki, Musical Technique, and Attitude. Play with Roy and PJ in a set of fun and invigorating exercises that will strengthen and illuminate our capacity to play kumidaiko with a deeper connectedness. Come with bachi, curiosity, and an open mind.


Participant Level: All levels can benefit from this workshop


PJ Hirabayashi


Ei Ja Nai Ka (EJNK) is an open source piece that has become a popular North American taiko folk dance. A sequence of energizing activities prepares participants to embody rhythms in movement, dance, voice, and taiko. In recent years, EJNK is being danced at many local obons. Share EJNK in the spirit of unifying people to play and dance with open heart and abandonment. Bring bachi.


Participant Level: All levels of experience are welcome.

Stage presence and Playing as an Ensemble

Roy Hirabayashi


Performing in public requires more than just the basics of playing the taiko. Stage presence, working as a group and group dynamics are all part of what can make an ok performance into a great performance.


Participant Level: All levels can benefit from this workshop


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