Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Guide to the Soh Daiko Archive Records and Videotapes TAM.634

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Erika Gottfried

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on November 25, 2019
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Heather Mulliner to reflect inclusion of 2017 accretion edited by Nicole Greenhouse for additional administration information and the incorporation of archived website  , August 2017 , November 2019

Descriptive Summary

Title: Soh Daiko Records
Dates [inclusive]: 1983-2013, undated
Abstract: Soh Daiko, founded in New York City in 1979 and was the first taiko group in the Northeastern United States. Taiko, a kind of traditional Japanese drumming used for ritual celebrations and festivals also became a contemporary performing art of mass drumming in the 1960s. Soh Daiko's performances blend movement and choreography with music; its repertoire includes traditional compositions from Shinto music tradition, adapting existing taiko compositions and performing original arrangements by its own members. The group has participated in local New York City cultural festivities, it has performed across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and has been featured in segments on public radio and television. The collection consists mainly of programs, press releases, and clippings documenting Soh Daiko's performances for every year from 1979 through 2014, and videotapes documenting some performances from the 1980s, as well as the group's visit to Japan in 1987.
Quantity: 3.75 Linear Feet In three records boxes, one manuscript box, and 1 half manuscript box
Quantity: 21 videocassettes
Quantity: 2 websites in two archived websites.
Language: Materials are in English
Call Phrase: TAM.634

Return to Top »

Historical/Biographical Note

Soh Daiko (which means "peaceful, harmonious drum" in Japanese), founded in New York City in 1979, was the first taiko group in the Northeastern United States. Taiko is a kind of traditional Japanese drumming used for ritual celebrations and festivals, which also became a contemporary performing art of mass drumming in the in the 1960s. Soh Daiko began as a youth activity organized by members of the New York Buddhist Church who were inspired by a performance of a Chicago taiko group at an Eastern Young Buddhist League convention. Created by membership chairman Mamoru "Mo" Funai and adult advisors Jim Moran, Merle and Alan Okada, the group started with a grant from the Church. With this small grant, they learned to make barrel drums and learned basic taiko techniques with help from taiko instructors from Chicago and Los Angeles. Within a short time Soh Daiko evolved from a youth group to an adult group. With funding from a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Soh Daiko pursued more advanced training from Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo; it also received instruction from from members of the Tachibana Dance Group and members of the Kodo taiko group visiting from Japan. The association with Kodo resulted in joint concert, "Kodo/Soh Daiko: A Taiko Celebration" at the Japan Society in New York in 1987. Shortly afterwards, Soh Daiko took its first trip to Japan, including a stay with the Kodo group on Sado Island.

Soh Daiko expanded its repertoire to include traditional compositions from Shinto music tradition, adapting existing taiko compositions, has drawn inspiration from other world cultures, and performed original arrangements by its own members. More than percussion, Soh Daiko's performances feature the visual element of movement and choreography, requiring physical strength, endurance, and energy, its musicians playing drums ranging from a little over a foot in diameter to some almost as large as the person playing it. In addition to drums, the group incorporates accessories such as bamboo flutes, brass bells, conch shells, gongs, African shekere (gourd percussion instrument), and Tahitian toere (wooden slit drum). The number of performers in Soh Daiko has varied from about 11 to 16 members; the total number of participants since its inception through 2014 is about 75. Its members have had diverse backgrounds and professions, and an equal number of women, if not more, have belonged as well as men. While its makeup has been mainly Asian American, Soh Daiko has included members of other ethnic origins. The group has operated as a collective. Soh Daiko has participated in many local New York City cultural festivities such as Brooklyn Botanic Gardens' Cherry Blossom Festival, Smithsonian's Folk Life Festival, the annual Asian/Pacific American Heritage Festival, Japan Day Festival in Central Park, and Summerstage and at celebrated venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the American Museum of Natural History, and Radio City Music Hall. It has also performed across the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as in Canada and United Kingdom. The group has also been featured on public television's children's programs Sesame Street and  Reading Rainbow, National Public Radio's  All Things Considered, and with artists such as Korn, Rob Thomas, and Kanye West. It has received critical acclaim from the  New York Times, Dance Magazine, and the  San Francisco Chronicle. The group's debut recording, "Soh Daiko," was released by Lyrichord Discs in 2005; a documentary video about the group,  Soh Daiko: Taiko in New York, was produced in 2011, featuring interviews with members past and present, and performance footage.

Sources: Soh Daiko website: http://sohdaiko.org/

May 2, 1986 article in the, "Soh Daiko, the Fine Art of Japanese Drumming," New York Times. May 2, 1986.

Return to Top »

Scope and Content Note

The Soh Daiko Records consist of programs, press releases, video recordings, websites, and clippings documenting Soh Daiko's performances for every year from 1979 through 2014. Paper records in this collection include memorabilia and organizational files such as correspondence, programs and leaflets from performances, clippings, and articles related to the group's performances as well as taiko in general. Video recordings document Soh Daiko performances at venues including the American Museum of Natural History and Japan Society. They include a joint performance with Kodo (a Japanese taiko group), as well as Soh Daiko's appearance on public television programs like Sesame Street and  Reading Rainbow. Other recordings document the group's visit to Japan in the 1980s.


The collection is arranged into three series:

Series I: Records, 1979-2013. Folders are arranged in alphabetical order by folder title; folders with identical titles have been arranged chronologically by year.

Series II: Videocassettes, 1984-2000. Are arranged chronologically.

Series III. Archived websites, 2014-ongoing

Return to Top »

Access Points

Subject Names

  • Okada, Merle
  • Okada, Alan

Document Type

  • Video recordings.

Subject Organizations

  • Soh Daiko (Musical group)

Subject Topics

  • Musical instruments - Japan
  • Percussion ensembles.
  • Taiko (Drum ensemble)

Return to Top »

Administrative Information

Custodial History

The Soh Daiko Archive Records and Videotapes were brought to the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives as a result of the Asian/Pacific American Documentary Heritage Archives Survey, a collaboration between the Library and Archives and New York University's Asian/Pacific/American Institute, funded by a one-year grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council. The Survey was the first systematic attempt in the New York metropolitan area to identify available or potential Asian/Pacific American collections of documents with historical value, and it worked with community-based organizations and individuals to survey their records and papers. Once located and surveyed, some of these materials were given to or purchased by the Library or went to other repositories.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Soh Daiko were transferred to New York University in 2012 by Merle and Alan Okada. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive. Please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Soh Daiko Records; TAM 634; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

To cite the archived website in this collection: Identification of item, date; Soh Daiko Records; TAM 634; Wayback URL; Repository Name, New York University.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access to audiovisual materials in this collection is available through digitized access copies. Researchers may view an item's original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection's finding aid and can be requested in our reading room. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials donated by Merle and Alan Okada on behalf of Soh Daiko in 2014; addional materials were donated in 2017. The accession numbers associated with these collections are 2013.002 and 2017.043.

http://sohdaiko.org/ was initially selected by curators and captured through the use of The California Digital Library's Web Archiving Service in 2014 as part of the Arts and Cultural Left Web Archive. In 2015, this website was migrated to Archive-It. Archive-It uses web crawling technology to capture websites at a scheduled time and displays only an archived copy, from the resulting WARC file, of the website. In 2019, https://40th.sohdaiko.org/ was added. The accession number associated with this website is 2019.135.

Processing Information

At the time of accessioning materials were moved into archival housing, series, a file list and a finding aid was created to describe these materials. The original order in which the materials were received by the Tamiment Library has largely been maintained: paper records are arranged in alphabetical order by folder title, and chronologically by year within identical folder titles. A link to Soh Daiko's website was added as a third series.

In 2017, eight video tapes of Soh Daiko performances were added to Series II: Videocassettes. At this time videos were arranged chronologically, listed a the file level, and assigned cassette numbers. The collection title was also changed from the Soh Daiko Archive Records and Videotapes to the Soh Daiko Records.

In 2019, additional archived websites were added to the finding aid.

Take Down Policy

Archived websites are made accessible for purposes of education and research. NYU Libraries have given attribution to rights holders when possible; however, due to the nature of archival collections, we are not always able to identify this information.

If you hold the rights to materials in our archived websites that are unattributed, please let us know so that we may maintain accurate information about these materials.

If you are a rights holder and are concerned that you have found material on this website for which you have not granted permission (or is not covered by a copyright exception under US copyright laws), you may request the removal of the material from our site by submitting a notice, with the elements described below, to the special.collections@nyu.edu.

Please include the following in your notice: Identification of the material that you believe to be infringing and information sufficient to permit us to locate the material; your contact information, such as an address, telephone number, and email address; a statement that you are the owner, or authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed and that you have a good-faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; a statement that the information in the notification is accurate and made under penalty of perjury; and your physical or electronic signature. Upon receiving a notice that includes the details listed above, we will remove the allegedly infringing material from public view while we assess the issues identified in your notice.

Return to Top »

Container List

Series I: Records, 1983-2013

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival (New York City) – Programs, Posters, Leaflets
1983, 1990-1994, 1997
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence

Scope and Content Note

Includes a 1995 grant proposal.

Box: 1 Folder : 3-19 Performances/Press
1979, 1981-1994
Box: 2 Folder : 1-17 Performances/Press
Box: 3 Folder : 1-4 Performances/Press
2010-2013, undated
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Soh Daiko – Articles and Clippings on History and Background

Return to Top »

Series II: Videocassettes, 1984-1987

Scope and Content Note

Videos in this series include 21 recordings of Soh Diako performances, dated 1984-2000. Many of these tapes were recorded on Sony DVCAM and include videos of footage collected as part of the Soh Daiko Archival Project. These tapes each feature one to three videos of different performances at workshops, festivals, and other cultural events. Other events are recorded on Umatic and VHS tapes and include footage of individual performances at cultural instutions like the American Museum of Natural History and Japan Society. Several of these videos may be duplicated on the Soh Daiko Archival Project tapes.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Cassette : 1 Soh Daiko: American Museum of Natural History
1984 November 26
Box: 4 Cassette : 2 Soh Daiko Archival Project: 5th Anniversary and American Museum of Natural History
Box: 4 Cassette : 3-5 Soh Daiko
1985 November 9
Box: 4 Cassette : 6 Soh Daiko Archival Project: Shi Shi Workshop with Kyosuke Suzuki, Reading Rainbow Telelvision Program "The Paper Crane," and Kurosawa Sansa The National Theater, Tokyo
1986, unknown
Box: 4 Cassette : 7-9 Kodo and Soh Daiko: A Taiko Celebration
1987 February 26
Box: 4 Cassette : 10 Soh Daiko Archival Project: Sado Island Matsuri Kodo Performance and Sado Island Ondeko Groups at Ogi Temples
1987 August 28-30
Box: 4 Cassette : 11 Soh Dakio Archival Project: Sado Island Waseda Kitatanoura Kodo Rehearsal and Kodo/Soh Daiko Workshop
1987 August 29, September 1
Box: 4 Cassette : 12 Soh Daiko Archival Project; Sado Island Kodo Apprentices Kitatanoura
1987 August 31
Box: 4 Cassette : 13 Soh Daiko Archival Project: Kodo and Soh Daiko: A Takio Celebration
1987 February 26
Box: 5 Cassette : 14-16 Japan Society Presents: Soh Daiko
1991 September 28
Box: 5 Cassette : 17 Soh Daiko Archival Project: International Taiko Festival
1990 November 17
Box: 5 Cassette : 18 Soh Daiko Archival Project: Soh Daiko Japan Society
1991 September 28
Box: 5 Cassette : 19 International Takio Festival
1990 November 17
Box: 5 Cassette : 20 Soh Daiko Archival Project: Sesame Street with Soh Daiko and Taiko Jam, North American Taiko Conference
1993 December 2; 1997 July 19
Box: 5 Cassette : 21 Soh Daiko Archival Project: Yoshi Katsu Fujimoto Workshop and Taikotsunami, Annenberg Center, Philadelphia
2000 June 17, undated

Return to Top »

Series III: Archived Websites, August 2014-ongoing. 2 websites in two archived websites.

Soh Daiko Archived Website: August 2014-ongoing


Soh Daiko 40th Anniversary Concert Archived Website: April 2019-ongoing



New site crawls are accrued semiannually.


Crawl was limited to domains and subdomains of sohdaiko.org in order to remain within the collection scope and data constraints.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Due to technical or privacy issues, archived websites may not be exact copies of the original website at the time of the web crawl. Certain file types will not be captured dependent on how they are embedded in the site. Other parts of websites that the crawler has difficulty capturing includes Javascript, streaming content, database-driven content, and highly interactive content. Full-Text searches of archived websites are available at https://archive-it.org/organizations/567.

Scope and Contents

Two websites related to Soh Daiko, a Taiko drumming group. The websites contain event listings, videos of their performances, images, information about recruitment and their 40th anniversary concert, and how to financially support the group.

Return to Top »