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Taiko (太鼓 )

The percussion instrument used by the taikokata. The top and bottom drum faces, made of cow leather, are connected with a hemp cord called shirabeo on each end of the body, made of Japanese Zelkova wood. The shirabeo may be pulled taut and also pulled horizontally, and then pulled even tighter to adjust the sound quality. In the center of the top of the drum face, there is a patch of deer leather 4cm in diameter known as a bachikawa. There is also a patch of deer leather 8cm in diameter on the bottom side of the drum face known as the choshikawa, or “tuning leather.” The assembled Taiko are placed on a special stage with the performers in front of them, and the sound is produced by striking them with a stick called a bachi on the bachikawa, with the sound quality changed by the strength of the striking and how the bachi is held. As the kanname are unique to the individual craftsmen, they are also used in appraising old drums. Plays including the taiko are known as taiko-mono, and those without are known as diashō-mono. Current ōtsuzumi schools include the Kanze and Konparu schools.

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