Grant #317


October 22, 2018

Wielding large wooden mallets against massive drums, taiko performers are known for their thunderous performances. Women weren’t allowed. Now. They. Rule. BOOM.

It takes some powerful shoulders to pound those drums, and that was just one of the reasons that taiko drumming was only for Japanese men and boys since the first performers in the 6th century. But women began to demonstrate that they have what it takes, lats and delts and biceps and triceps, pounding away at the tradition of No Girls Allowed. Over the last 40 years, women practitioners of this beautiful and mighty art have exploded onto the scene to dominate the numbers. In North America, women now make up the majority of taiko players – one estimate says 70% are women. Still, they’re being shut out of the top echelons of taiko. It’s a story filmmakers want to tell, and this Awesome Without Borders grant will help them tell it.

HERbeat is a documentary in the works starring the top taiko playing women in the USA, Canada, and Japan as they prepare for a groundbreaking performance in the year 2020. It will be the first time they perform together, at the Women In Taiko Project’s performance at the Ordway Center for the Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota. Our grant will help shoot enough footage to entice other funders to make the full-length doc a reality.

Emmy-award winner Dawn Mikkelson will produce and direct. We’re hoping she and her all-female filmmaking team will create new opportunities for women in taiko, especially at the top. It’s amazing how fast some people can be convinced to do the right thing if a camera is rolling.

See some exciting taiko drumming here: Yo-Matsuri bayashi (Yatai Bayashi) performed by Enso Daiko with Tiffany Tamaribuchi. Percussionists pounding the patriarchy, one performance at a time. Awesome.

Category: Culture, Film, Music, Performance, Women



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders