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Taiko Today: Performing Soundscapes, Landscapes And Identities

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores manifestations of taiko in modern Japanese society, in contemporary Japanese life and as statements of Japanese cultural heritage outside of Japan. To analyse how taiko is used to 'perform Japan' and 'perpetuate Japan', the chapter first introduces a series of vignettes, a taiko play in seven acts, stemming from ethnographic encounters with Japan and modern taiko. Through the assertion of a perpetual Japanese tradition and spirit, taiko players are seen to both perform Japan and perpetuate Japan. They are also involved in emergent tradition, using taiko to shape possible future constructions of Japanese society and identity. The chapter also explores how taiko, particularly as shown in the rise to fame and continuing activities of the taiko group Kodō, reflects contemporary dialectics of place associations in Japan. It examines use of taiko to support the idea of 'localism' by performing local place identities.

Keywords: Japanese cultural heritage; Japanese identity; localism; modern Japanese society; taiko



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