TCA Member Spotlight: Louise Ogata

We know from our 2020 Taiko Census network map that many of us our connected. Some are connected through shared performing members, and others, like Hoh Daiko, are connected by “sisterhoods” – a bond among groups connected through shared histories, growth, and a passion for taiko. As an original member and “lifer” of Seabrook Buddhist Temple’s Hoh Daiko, Louise has had quite the journey these past 30 years. Thank you, Louise, for taking the time to sit down with TCA and share some of your journey with us!

When did you first find taiko? Is this the same time that you started playing taiko?

My first experience in finding taiko, probably in the early 1980’s, was being totally mesmerized watching Soh Daiko perform at Seabrook Buddhist Temple’s Obon Festival. I was so captivated by their performance and was immediately “hooked” to the dynamics of sound and energy.  Soh Daiko has graciously made an appearance at our annual festival for many years since. 

I started playing taiko in 1991, when Hoh Daiko formed. As it would turn out, Soh Daiko played an integral part in mentoring Hoh Daiko. Four founding members of Soh Daiko, Alan Okada, Merle Okada, Sandy Ikeda, and Jenny Wada came to Seabrook where I was fortunate to get my first introduction to “Renshu.” Soh Daiko would provide the support and guidance that we needed, and continue to be our source of inspiration today. Our group is so appreciative and grateful for their influence and tutelage. We have established a longtime relationship with them and Nen Daiko. In fact, pre-pandemic, Seabrook Obon Festival has hosted a “Soh-Nen-Hoh” gathering each year.


What has your taiko journey looked like?

All my years of taiko have been spent with Hoh Daiko. 

Highlights of earlier performances include: National Education Assembly and the Japanese Embassy in DC, “Taiko Tsunami” , Phillies Pre-game show for Asian Heritage Night in Philadelphia, Longwood Gardens Chrysanthemum Festival, First Night in Ocean City, Wawa Welcome America July 4th Festivals, Kotoricon/Anime Guild at Rowan University

Performances at local schools, community festivals, and cultural events provide opportunity to share my Japanese heritage and the unique art form of taiko. Encouraging an appreciation and joy of taiko can be extremely rewarding.

Hoh Daiko celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year, and I have been “on board” since its humble beginnings. With a grateful heart, I convey my sincere appreciation to the many wonderful teachers and fellow taiko enthusiasts who have shaped and enriched my taiko journey. 


Why did you become a member of TCA?

TCA is an important resource that offers programming and networks taiko groups to become more connected. As an organizer and facilitator, you provide an avenue that fosters open dialog and the opportunity for the exchange of diverse taiko experiences. This organization can spread awareness of the values, traditions and principles of North American taiko. I feel that it is important to know how far the taiko experience has evolved, and look forward to seeing the vision that TCA has for its future.

What is your favorite post-practice meal?

Pizza! I love pizza! If not that, some spam musubi would be a close second!

Do you have other passions and/or hobbies outside of taiko?

I love to go to the movies, the theater and to concerts. Unfortunately, I have not been able to enjoy those activities due to current health guidelines and restrictions. 


Last, but certainly not least: How many taiko tees do you own?

Probably around 20.

Shime or Odaiko?

Shime. The Odaiko “intimidates” me.

Run for Exercise or Literally Anything Else?

Literally Anything Else. The only time I enjoyed running was on the playground in elementary school, which is ancient history. 

Phone Call or Text Message?

Phone Call. I appreciate the sound of one’s voice. Face to face encounter even better.

What’s worse: Laundry or Dishes?

Dishes. Do not have a dishwasher. That being said, it requires manual labor. Pushing the button on a washing machine allows me time to do something else, while the appliance “does its thing”.

Coffee, Tea, or Red Bull (or, you know, another energy drink, I guess)

Coffee.

Perform in incredibly cold weather or incredibly humid weather?

Cold Weather. Just because I hate the humidity.

Record your practice and study the footage or fly free on the feeling?

Fly free on the feeling. Studying the footage would certainly aid in correcting form and technique. However, being able to “freestyle” allows one’s individuality to shine.

Do you know a TCA member who you would like to see spotlighted? Send an email to Sarah Gilbert at sarah@taikocommunityalliance.org to nominate the TCA members in your life for our next spotlight!

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