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

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Drum Tao Concert

Lensic Performing Arts Center

Pre-concert lecture and Taiko demonstration with Torii Taiko

Regular doors open

Join Torii Taiko and the Lensic Performing Arts Center as we present Program Notes before another major Japanese Taiko show. In the 30 minute demo, we perform three pieces to illustrate aspects of Taiko performance and culture.

Drum Tao is an international touring company who are no stranger to New Mexico. With their highly physical, large-scale drumming with contemporary costumes, precise choreography, and innovative visuals, the performers of Drum Tao deliver an edge-of-your-seat, tour-de-force evening of strength and driving rhythms.

We are honored to be invited by the Lensic again. Last year in 2023, Kodo performed after our presentation.

Please join us Tuesday, April 2 at 6:30 pm, for a pre-performance presentation and demonstration of Torii Taiko. It is free for all ticket holders.

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

For more information, visit:

Questions? Contact us