Hachijo taiko

The Hachijo style of taiko comes from Hachijo Island, just off the eastern coast of mainland Japan, south of Tokyo. Along with Hokuriku style, it’s one of the few (only?) taiko styles based on improvisation. Like Hokuriku style, it’s also a very informal style, relaxed and expressive, with plenty of opportunity for solo-ing.

This is an excellent article about the tradition of taiko drumming on Hachijo Island (Hachijojima) and the history of the island itself: Drum Songs: The Intoxicating Music of Hachijojima by Tony McNicol

Learning Hachijo style

In terms of learning Hachijo, many individuals and groups in the UK now incorporate a Hachijo piece into their repertoire and some teach the style.

Mugenkyo in central Scotland and Taiko Meantime in London give Hachijo workshops and also occasionally host workshops with renowned Hachijo players like Chieko Kojima (see below). I’d also particularly recommend learning from Mary and Tony of Kaminari Taiko in York, England, as they’ve spent time on Hachijo Island and have a really good understanding of the style as it is played there. Here’s a short video of a couple of the folk they know there – note how relaxed and fluid the playing is:
Hachijo on Hachijo (Yoshio Okuyama on solo)

Shogo Yoshii in Japan is another well-respected teacher and player of Hachijo style with strong links to the island. He teaches via the KaDon online course but one of his lessons is currently available free on Youtube. It includes a history of Hachijo island taiko and demonstrations of local rhythms and phrases:
Intro to Yoko Uchi – Lesson #3 by Shogo Yoshii

Hana Hachijo

Hachijo style has been popularised in the West by Chieko Kojima of Kodo who has created a beautiful piece called Hana Hachijo (‘flower hachijo’). I saw her play it with Kodo when I was on my first taiko tour with Mugenkyo and was transfixed. She’s adapted the traditional Hachijo style to perfect her own particularly feminine form which she plays here with Kaoru Watanabe:

I also really like this rehearsal video of the same piece – nice and laid back. And you can learn the piece yourself from this demonstration video which she made for the 2020 World Taiko Conference: Hana Hachijo demo

Chieko-san occasionally offers online lessons which she advertises on her Facebook page.

Hachijo in heels

This video is one I just came across online. I have no idea who the players are but I love the casual grace, and hachijo and heels are always a great combination.