Taiko Beat of Collaboration with Janet Koike

woman in colorful outfit playing a big drum with bachi (hardwood drum sticks)

Janet Koike is the Founder of Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda, California. She is also the Artistic Director of Maze Daiko Ensemble. In this episode, she shares her journey which started with success as a textile fashion designer to playing taiko, the Japanese drum. Janet’s experiences as a woman drummer in an art form that doesn’t have musical roots remind us about the power of sound and the role of artists as ambassadors for new paradigms and alternative ways of experiencing the world.

Leading the Way for Women in Taiko

Janet’s career as a drummer has made waves for women who are not part of the art form in Japan. In the U.S., taiko has grown into new directions and she has been part of those collaborations with dancers, singers, in multi-instrument ensembles, and more.

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Woman seated in front of a taiko with sticks raised over her head, shouting happily.

About Janet Koike

Three people playing big taikos on a beach. Water in the background.

Janet Koike is the Founder of Rhythmix Cultural Works and the Artistic Director of Maze Daiko ensemble. In 2016, 2018 and 2022, she brought her taiko artistry to the role of  creative/music director for three productions of Island City Waterways– multidisciplinary, immersive performance art productions that celebrated Alameda’s waterfront history. The Island City Waterways productions were collaborative performances with ODC/Dance SF, Epiphany Dance Theater, 13th Floor, Maze Daiko, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, Akira Tana, Jeff Razz, Prescott Circus, and SF Mime Troupe veteran and her husband, Ed Holmes.

Janet received her early training with San Francisco Taiko Dojo and then went on to join San Jose Taiko as artistic staff. She has performed with Keith Terry’s Body Tjak, Theater Yugen, Anthony Brown’s Asian Jazz Orchestra and collaborated with Brenda Wong Aoki and Mark Izu. Koike’s ensemble, Maze Daiko has collaborated with Kodo, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, On Ensemble and they were a featured artist at the 2015 North American Taiko Conference.

Janet is the recipient of the Girls Inc. “Women Who Dare” and Alameda County Arts Leadership awards. Her arts education background includes work with the Wolf Trap Institute, the Oakland Museum and Cal Performances.

To listen to this episode as a podcast, search for Agile Vocalist anywhere you get your podcasts.

orange graphic that reads Liner Notes


Sounds in this Episode

  • Maze Daiko, Matsuri Mashup
  • Maze Daiko, Three Rivers
  • Maze Daiko, Chikara

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Episode Transcript:  Coming Soon!


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