STI 2016 Interview: PJ Hirabayashi

PJ_1B-sPJ Hirabayashi is a founding member of San Jose Taiko, the third taiko group formed in North America. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, she became interested in taiko after seeing a performance by San Francisco Taiko Dojo while she was in College. She became a member of San Jose Taiko in 1974, and was artistic director of the group until July 2011, when she passed the responsibility to others. She is now known for her engaging workshops and her creative initiative TaikoPeace.


Interviewer: Audrey Bergeron-Morin (TCP 2016 Fellow)

I asked her a few questions and here’s what she had to say!

What are you going to teach during the STI?
It’s an honor to be invited to be a part of STI’s faculty to share taiko tips I have harvested over 43-years. Upon transitioning from San Jose Taiko leadership in 2011, I have been fine-tuning how I can do better with what I do best in my taiko practice, performance, teaching, and collaboration through what I have been developing as “TaikoPeace”. I aspire to incorporate peace culture values in my taiko playing and teaching and in all aspects of my life. This focus gives me an exciting creative challenge of how to teach peace culture values to others.

Why should people take your classes this summer? What are you hoping to share with them?
My teaching has a distinct quality of which many remark, “transmits joy, fun, energy, openness.” And now, under the “TaikoPeace” umbrella, I am asking, “What happens when you bring conscious awareness to your breath, your movement, and your energy? How much more powerful can you become? How much more effective? And how much more connection can you experience with others and your environment?” This opens a way to practice Embodied Wisdom and Authentic Power. Embodied Wisdom is how the body shapes the way we think. My identity is shaped from an interaction between my body and my environment. It is how my body can transform and empower. Authentic Power is the energy that is formed when one aligns with the intentions of the soul. It is the awareness of how I’m running my energy in any given moment in order to view myself and others with non-judgment and unconditional love.

What is it that keeps you involved with the taiko community?
I am grateful that I still love playing taiko now with the same excitement and joy as the first time I felt taiko open my heart with that incredible power and energy inside myself and beyond myself.

What’s the main message (or messages) you’d like to share with taiko players in general?
Taiko as a true source of empowerment and authentic power has been my fundamental reason for playing and for being a passionate citizen of the taiko community.

Thank you, PJ! I can’t wait to take your classes in July!