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.

Who We Are

torii taiko

Our spontaneous journey began in Dana Wisehart’s den practicing taiko pieces and refining technique.

Danny Silver is an Eldorado area neighbor, who is also a Zumba instructor at El Gancho. The Hip-Hop dance instructor recently retired from 18 years of teaching children and producing programs at the National Dance Institute of New Mexico in Santa Fe. As an avid hiker and former river guide, she takes great joy in the dynamic rhythmic physicality the taiko provides.

Seeking respite from brutal Boston winters, Katherine Kim moved to Santa Fe in the middle of the pandemic. The last 12 years found her traveling both within the US and Japan (including Sado Island and Hachijo Island) for taiko workshops and conferences. The former ONE-Odaiko New England veteran joined us with her insight and enthusiasm.

Emily Walukas is a physics and engineering teacher, aikidoka, amateur tinkerer and aspiring community builder. She began her music endeavors at age 11, playing concert percussion and performing in drumline in high school and college. Her favorite instrument is the marimba and has recently learned to play the cajón and ukulele. Emily is new to the art of taiko but blends a keen wealth of experience in movement, rhythm, and enthusiasm.

torii taiko emily walukas and dana wisehart

Emily Walukas (left) and Dana Wisehart (right)

Taiko grabbed Jon Whitsell 20 years ago in the Santa Fe Wild Oats Community Center during a lesson with Blake Himm. A founding member of Smokin’ Bachi Taiko, Jon was also Co-Director of the “Taiko, Awakening the Spirit Conference” in Crestone, Colorado with Koji Nakamura, of Ondekoza, Shumei Taiko Ensemble and Mokoto Taiko.

Dana and Staff Husband/Roadie Bob moved to the Florida Gulf Coast. But, the seeds they planted, spawned Torii Taiko.

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. Torii Taiko is a spontaneous evolutionary collaboration to joyfully cross over to worlds beyond our everyday existence through practice, patience, and passion.

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

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Drum Tao Concert

Lensic Performing Arts Center
211 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Pre-concert lecture by Jon Whitsell

Regular doors open

The Lensic Performing Arts Center is presenting Drum Tao in concert on Friday March 31, 2021. They asked Torii Taiko performer Jon Whitsell to give a pre-concert lecture beginning at 6:30pm. A QR code in the lobby will allow concert goers to follow along with the lecture. Tickets holders will be able to enter the theater at that time. Regular doors open at 7pm.

Jon will discuss the beginning of kumidaiko (group drumming) in post World War 2 Japan by Daihachi Oguchi and Sukeroku Taiko. Various taiko instruments will be introduced and demonstrated. He will further detail the evolution in Japan and its spread into North America and Northern New Mexico.

Scan this QR code to see Jon's lecture slides:

Questions? Contact us