Born in 1959 in Kumamoto, Japan, Toshi Sakamoto has devoted his life to the art of Japanese drumming (wadaiko) and to its advancement across Australia and the AsiaPacific region. In 1987 Toshi co-founded a taiko conservation group, the “Rindo Daiko Association” in Kumamoto, and began to perform. He received training from Takashi Fukuda, a percussionist with the Kumamoto Philharmonic Orchestra, and received intensive lessons and training from Ondekoza’s Yuu Imafuku as well as various well known taiko teams in the area. Toshi also participated in the start-up of the Kumamoto Castle Taiko group.
In 1995, Toshi arrived in Australia for the first time as a voluntary member of a Japanese cultural exchange team. He worked for nine months on cultural activities centred around taiko performance. In 1996, he was invited back to the same position. He settled in Australia in the same year, and established Melbourne’s first ever professional taiko training classes. The advanced students from these classes went on to join Toshi and Junko Sakamoto who formed the formal performing ensemble of Wadaiko Rindo.
Wadaiko Rindo has gone from strength to strength, sharing the beauty of Japanese music through classes and performances at music, arts and cultural festivals, educational forums all over Australia, and several overseas tours to Fiji, New Caledonia, China and Japan.
In 2005, Toshi’s tenth anniversary in Australia, the annual student concert was held with 90 students, young and old. Since then, his students have multiplied in number with around 130 currently active.
“It is a pleasure to see that many of my students are making taiko a strong part of their life. Some are teaching it as part of the curriculum at their primary and high schools where they hold teaching posts, and others yet are forming unique performance groups with other Japanese instruments as a focus, like the shamisen (Japanese banjo) and various fue (wind instruments) like the shinobue and shakuhachi. Many have just made it part of their physical and mental exercise regime. It’s wonderful to see taiko grow and spread, and touch so many lives.”