Experience the thrill of DRUM TAO’s 30th Anniversary Live Show: THE TAO Mugenkyo

In 2023, DRUM TAO marked its 30th anniversary since its inception. Their unique blend of traditional Japanese instruments and dance performances has captivated audiences worldwide, with their popularity now nearing 10 million attendees globally.

In 1993, DRUM TAO was formed in Aichi Prefecture with the mission of creating a new sensation in entertainment that could resonate worldwide through the art of taiko drumming. After relocating to Kusumi in Takeda City, Oita Prefecture, in 1995, they achieved remarkable success, selling over a million tickets primarily in Kyushu within seven and a half years. Their performances in Off-Broadway, New York were sold out, and they have continued to broaden their influence across borders and genres, collaborating with popular games like Apex Legends in 2022 and appearing at events such as Summer Sonic 2023.

Last May, they embarked on a nationwide tour to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The special program “THE TAO Mugenkyo” is an updated version of their original program “Tenkyo” (1997), which served as the foundation of their artistic journey. This time around, their second stop in Tokyo during the tour took place over three days from February 1st to 4th, 2024, at the newly opened IMM THEATER.

Japanese Entertainment Showmanship at Its Best

I had the chance to attend one of the shows, and beforehand I pictured a traditional taiko drum performance with men clad in twisted headbands and loincloths, sweating as they pounded the drums. However, DRUM TAO’s performance proved to be entirely different from my expectations or anything I had seen before. At times, it felt like watching traditional performing arts, while at other moments, it resembled the performance of a dynamic dance group. With the intensity of a rock band’s live show and the glamor of an idol concert, it was truly an entertainment extravaganza.

The costumes, crafted by the acclaimed Japanese fashion designer Jun Koshino, added a beautiful touch to their choreography and performance gestures. Beyond just refining the essence of traditional Japanese clothing, they also exuded a primitive, cultural aura. Appreciating the aesthetics, designs, and craftsmanship of the costumes while seeing them in motion was stunning.

Additionally, even more astonishing was not just the performance itself, but also the expressive capabilities of traditional Japanese instruments. The soft, melodious tones produced when striking the large taiko drum gently with soft beaters resembled those of a double bass. Similarly, the three-sided koto produced delicate, piano-like sounds, overturning all preconceived notions about the tonality of traditional Japanese instruments.

DRUM TAO defied any preconceived notions I had and was an absolute spectacle.

Experience DRUM TAO

The 30th anniversary commemorative tour “THE TAO Mugenkyo” will continue until late March, with upcoming performances scheduled in various regions such as Kansai, Kyushu, and Tohoku. Additionally, a new live production titled “FUTURE” is scheduled for performances starting from May. After touring primarily in Kyushu, they are planning to return to Tokyo in July. For more details, please check the official website.

Furthermore, for an even more surreal and thrilling experience, look no further than the “TAO no Oka” open-air theater. Located in Aso Kuju National Park, which serves as their home base, you can watch performances on the “Skyward Stage” installed at an altitude of 1,036 meters. This year, the season starts from March 29th, and live shows are held every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Immerse yourself in the reverberations of the taiko drums echoing across the vast landscapes and skies of Aso, and experience an unforgettable show like no other.

Open-air Theater TAO-no-Oka “Skyward Stage”


Orie Ishikawa

ZEROMILE lead editor. With a limitless curiosity about things such as history, literature, biology, culture, art, fashion, and more, Orie has spent most of her lifetime studying random knowledge. Her number one spot in Tokyo is the National Museum of Nature and Science.