Torii Taiko

torii taiko
torii taiko

Leave the mundane behind and join us searching for the extraordinary.

Torii Taiko is your path to another world of fun, loud and expressive taiko creations.

Torii Taiko kicks off the Sunset Garden Series at Origami in the Garden Full Moon Concert

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Details & More Upcoming Events

Who We Are

torii taiko

Taiko is the Japanese drumming art form which spread new wings in Post World War Two Japan, evolving into “kumi daiko.” This group concept acts like a jazz ensemble combining the different taiko voices into one sound.

The four members of Torii Taiko cook up a unique contemporary local blend of dance, aikido, drumline, Afro-Cuban, and Taiko Different with rock and roll influences. Inspired by the torii gates of Japan, the group name Torii Taiko, was approved by Grammy winner Koji Nakamura. Performances in the Santa Fe area include The Drum is the Voice of the Trees on the Santa Fe Plaza, Lena Street First Saturday, Obon celebration at the Museum of International Folk Art, and World Music Day at Santa Fe Brewery. Box Studio, site of the world famous sculpture studio Origami in the Garden, called Torii Taiko to close their performance season in a sold out show.

Torii Taiko is a spontaneous evolutionary collaboration to joyfully cross over to worlds beyond our everyday existence through practice, patience, and passion. Leave the mundane behind and join us searching for the extraordinary!

Kami spirits move through the center of the torii threshold. So veer to the left or the right as you join us creating a special space. Torii also honor the awe and mystery of nature as manifested in the numinous spirit of place.

spider guy Joel Nakamura

Spider Guy

Santa Feans may know Joel Nakamura’s work from the menu and staff T-shirts at Harry’s Roadhouse. Perhaps you’ve seen his primitive fantastical renderings of Godzilla for the Santa Fe JIN Matsuri poster.  And, you may soon be strutting through the airport with your Bugatti rolling luggage adorned with Joel’s vibrant weird and wondrous creatures.

We are fortunate to collaborate with Joel to create our new Torii Taiko mascot, Spider Guy. Fortunately, of all the drafts he sent us, the Spider Guy is his and our favorite. Spider Guy illustrates the blazing speed, the rumbling thunder, and the honorable whimsy of Torii Taiko. 

Learn more about Joel Nakamura at


Meet our members


torii taiko torii taiko

The exact origin of torii in Japan is unknown. But they do resemble structures in Persia, India, China, Thailand and Korea. Their presence on a modern Japanese road map indicates a Shinto shrine. They are also gateways to nature’s local deities such as mountains, forests and oceans.

It is polite for one to bow before entering a torii gate, as it marks the boundary of the secular and the sacred. The local deity has the right of way. So please do not enter through the center. Instead veer to the left or right.

White is considered the original color of torii representing purity, sacredness, and the ability to ward off evil spirits. When Buddhism spread to Japan, it began merging with Shinto. In Buddhism, red represents the sacred atmosphere and vital force.

The first torii gates are documented during the mid-Heian period (794-1185). The top photo is of the iconic torii of the Itsukushima Shrine complex, which is a UNESCO world Heritage Site, in Hiroshima Prefecture. It was sheltered from the atomic bombing by the hills of Miyajima and it’s distance across the bay from Ground Zero.

At high tide, the 50 foot high vermilion otorii gate (great gate) appears to float on water. A torii at this shrine was originally constructed in 1168. The current camphor wood vermilion gate dates to 1875.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine in southern Kyoto, in the middle picture, is famous for its thousands of vermilion torii gates. Walking through here is called the ultimate torii gate experience. The network of torii behind the shrine leads to forest trails up sacred Mount Inari. This shrine is the most important of thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, Shinto god of rice.

Upcoming Events

torii taiko

We're happy to announce 2 new events plus
the return of our First Saturday Taiko performances

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Full Moon Concert

Origami in the Garden Performance Space

5:30 - 7:30 PM

Torii Taiko kicks off the Sunset Garden concert series at the Origami in the Garden performance space on Thursday May 23 at 5:30pm. Tickets are $25/carload. So, pile your friends and family in your machine and cruise out on the Turquoise Trail to 3453 NM 14, Cerrillos, NM 87101.

Taiko-Japanese for big drum-is also the name of the art form of group drumming in a performance setting. Torii Taiko is inspired by the spirits of place and prompts you to leave the mundane behind and join us searching for the extraordinary. The group cooks up a unique contemporary blend of dance, aikido, drumline, Afro-Cuban, and Taiko Different with rock and roll influences.

You can't miss seeing the extraordinary giant cast and fabricated origami shaped sculptures as you drive Hiway 14 between Cerrillos and Lone Butte. 

So, make sure you see AND hear the season concert opener in the historic Little Garden of the Gods venue. Doors open at 5pm, giving you time to park and check out the current exhibition Florigami where you'll be greeted by a giant white Pegasus. Then, walk past the herd of horses to view a giant rose, tulips, and a 32-foot kinetic bouquet featuring designs from Robert J. Lang, Michael G. LaFosse, and Beth Johnson. This exhibit has toured the Atlanta and Fort Worth Botanical Gardens, but Florigami has returned home for the season.

taiko performance santa fe

Origami in the Garden Performance Space
3453 NM 14, Cerrillos, NM 87101

First Saturdays
beginning Saturday, June 1

Lena Street First Saturday Taiko

Ozu Japanese Restaurant parking lot

1-4 PM

Join Torii Taiko as we return to the Lena Street First Saturdays Celebration of Eating, Drinking, Shopping, and TAIKO! We reappear at the Ozu parking lot from 1-4pm Saturday June 1. 

After a sake or vegan bento, treat yourself to a sesame miso cookie. 

taiko performance santa fe

Ozu Japanese Restaurant
1708 Lena St #101, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Friday, June 7

Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper!

Branigan Cultural Center Courtyard
Las Cruces, NM

5 PM

Torii Taiko is helping launch the “Washi Transformed: New Expressions in Japanese Paper!” exhibit at the Las Cruces Museum of Art. Our show takes place next door at the Branigan Cultural Center Courtyard outside at 5pm Friday June 7.

Go in-depth Saturday morning at 9:30am on June 8 when Torii Taiko members present a workshop. You’ll learn Japanese words, history, bachi technique, and a song called, “Hiryu Sandan Gaeshi.” We call down the dragons of good fortune in this song by Grandmaster Daihachi Oguchi. Maybe, we’ll perform a few songs too!

This video link gives details and background on building the exhibit that features 9 contemporary artists who work with various forms of traditional Japanese washi paper.

taiko performance santa fe

Branigan Cultural Center Courtyard
501 N Main Street, Las Cruces, NM 88001

Questions? Contact us