B.Music, Queens University
Yuko has been a member of Yakudo since 2000 as a performer, a composer, an instructor for taiko classes, Head Instructor and co-initiator for the Sumodaiko Class program for youths aged 8-14. On the side, she also provides private music lessons: piano, violin, music theory and technique. A couple of years back, she decided to follow her passion so she applied to and got accepted into the Kodo Apprenticeship Programme. She trained hard and successfully graduated from their 2-year program.
Michelle Shimozato currently teaches the Kodaiko class on Sundays. Michelle was an active performing member of Yakudo for 10 years and retired from performing in 2007. She now spends her time with Yakudo teach the kids class and has been teaching for the past 2 years. Her passion for Taiko remains strong and her love for teaching goes beyond the music. Michelle enjoys being a part of the kids’ initial introduction to Taiko and seeing their progression as they gain confidence in their abilities and development.
Akiko, a second generation Japanese Canadian (Nissei), was born in Toronto and grew up in Brampton. All her exposure to Japanese music & culture was through her mother who loved singing old traditional Japanese songs while doing housework. When Akiko moved to Toronto for university she began to realize the abundance of different cultures, which prompted her to look into her own heritage. She started off with training in various martial arts and befriending many working holiday visitors from Japan. In Taiko she discovered a perfect blend of martial arts, Japanese heritage and music, and began to take Taiko lessons from Yakudo in the summer of ’95. In 1996 she joined the performing group as an apprentice and after many years as a performer, she was honoured to become the Director in 2004. Now as a mother herself, she has made a resolution to pass down the Japanese culture and history to her son, through Taiko. In addition to being Yakudo’s Director, she enjoys teaching the Kodaiko class and is actively involved in preparing and presenting Taiko workshops and presentations.
Samuel Isamu Baba
Raised in Scarborough, Sam was exposed to a myriad of different cultures, customs and music. A search into his own culture sparked a passion for Japanese martial arts and customs. The discovery of Taiko in 1991 was a revelation for Sam; Taiko embodied all of the things he sought. Lessons were followed by admission into Toronto Suwa Daiko which not long after became Yakudo, Traditional Japanese Drummers. Over a decade later, Sam will admit that the art of taiko is one that is not easily mastered and is indeed, one that requires constant refinement and perseverance. Sam currently serves as Chairman on the Board of Directors and is an advisor on Taiko maintenance and repairs, ensuring Yakudo’s taiko are in tip top shape.
Khaled, a second generation Japanese Canadian (Nissei) was born in Montreal and moved to Mississauga at the age of 9. Khaled fully embraces his multi ethnic descent of both Japanese and Egyptian and was especially influenced by his Japanese culture through his mother and grandmother. His fascination with Taiko was initiated when he saw a Yakudo performance at the Tokyo Pavilion, Caravan 1990. He instantly fell in love with the art of traditional Japanese drumming and started Taiko lessons soon thereafter with Yakudo. After 8 months, he auditioned and became a full-time member of Yakudo. Since then he has been thrilled with performing in the group and also enjoys instructing Taiko lessons, composing Taiko pieces and currently serves on Yakudo’s Board of Directors.
Carrie’s first encounter with Taiko was at a Kodo concert. Inspired by their energy and the physical challenge, she decided to look for a local Taiko group and found Yakudo. Within nine months of lessons she was hooked. Their unique style of taiko, full of energy and spirit, moved her to audition to become an apprentice. She was accepted as the newest member of Yakudo in April of 2010 after a year of apprenticeship with her inspiring and supportive mentor, Elsie Vane. Carrie is now a happy and proud member of the Yakudo family.
Dillan was born in Fukuoka, Japan and moved to Toronto at the age of two. As a child, Dillan watched Yakudo perform and eventually started taking Taiko classes at the age of six. At eleven, he temporarily stopped Taiko lessons only to return to it four years. As music is one of his passions, he also studies violin at the Etobicoke School of the Arts and has been taking piano lessons for ten years. Dillan is now working hard as an apprentice with Yakudo in hopes that he will eventually become as good as his amazing mentors.
Jo-Ann’s first experience with taiko was watching Arashi Daiko in Montreal at Japanese community festivals. She started taking taiko classes in Montreal and then discovered Yakudo after moving to Toronto. She has been an apprentice with Yakudo since early 2009. When not playing taiko, Jo-Ann enjoys spending her time with her family, who are very supportive of her taiko playing.
Kristie was always fascinated with martial arts and particularly Japanese culture. She started taking lessons on and off with Yakudo from 1997 to 2002 and was always a fan. In 2002 she began to take Taiko more seriously and worked towards Yakudo’s apprentice program which she successfully completed and became a full member in 2006. Her bubbly personality and unquestionable dedication have been a great addition to Yakudo.