Kenny Endo performing at Berkeley Buddhist Temple’s 2012 Satsuki Bazaar. (Photo by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

LAGUNA BEACH — Hiroshima kicks off its 2013 spring tour on Monday, April 15, in Laguna Beach with special guest Master Kenny Endo on taiko/percussion for this performance only.

This special performance is part of the Jammin’ Concert Series at the Laguna Playhouse. The tour will spotlight “Departure,” Hiroshima’s follow-up to their Grammy-nominated “Legacy.” “Departure” is Hiroshima’s first independent release and has met with critical praise.

Hiroshima leader Dan Kuramoto says, “If you haven’t heard Master Kenny with us before, you will be in for a big treat! Don’t miss this show.”

Endo is one of the leading artists in contemporary percussion and rhythm. He continues to pave new paths in Japanese-style drumming even after 35 years as a career taiko player. A performer, composer, and teacher of taiko with numerous awards and accolades, Endo blends taiko with rhythms from around the world into original melodies and improvisation.

Originally trained as a jazz musician in the Asian American cultural renaissance of 1970s California, Endo began his taiko career first with L.A.’s groundbreaking Kinnara Taiko, and then with the renowned San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first kumi-daiko group outside of Japan.

In 1980, he embarked on a decade-long odyssey in his ancestral Japan, studying and performing with the masters of ancient classical drumming, traditional Tokyo festival music, and ensemble drumming. Endo has the honor of being the first non-Japanese national to have received a natori (stage name and master’s degree) in hogaku hayashi (classical drumming). In the hogaku world, Endo is known as Mochizuki Tajiro.

In the greater musical world, “Kenny Endo” has become synonymous with “taiko.” He is arguably one of the most versatile musicians in the genre, crossing easily between the classical Japanese style and his own neo-classical, globally inspired variety. Among his many distinctions are an M.A. in ethnomusicology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, an artist residency at the Lincoln Center Institute in New York,  his own “Kenny Endo Day” proclaimed by the mayor of Honolulu, and certificates of honor from the House and Senate of the State of Hawaii and Honolulu City Council.

Endo has recorded five CDs of original taiko compositions, and was a featured artist on the PBS special “Spirit of Taiko.” He has performed for Michael Jackson and Prince as well as Princess Diana and Prince Charles. He opened for The Who, performed a duet with Bobby McFerrin, and is featured on the soundtracks for Kayo Hatta’s film “Picture Bride” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” He also recorded in motion capture suit for James Cameron’s “Avatar.”

In his effort to share taiko with the world, Endo’s taiko skills have taken him to the Microsoft Global Meeting in Atlanta, the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Theatre de Champs-Elysee in Paris, and the Kabukiza and National Theater in Japan. He has performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Honolulu Symphony, and the Tokyo Symphony.

Laguna Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach. For tickets, call (949) 497-2787. For online purchase, go to

The tour continues to the East Coast through April. Hiroshima returns to California in June for performances at the Thornton Winery in Temecula ( and with the Asia America Symphony Orchestra ( at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo, and to Yoshi’s Oakland ( in September.

For more information, visit and

Hiroshima (from left): Dan Kuramoto (saxophone, flute, shakuhachi, keyboards, vocals), Kimo Cornwell (piano, keyboards, synthesizers), Dean Cortez (electric and acoustic bass, background vocals), Shoji Kameda (taiko, percussion, voice), June Kuramoto (koto, shamisen), Danny Yamamoto (drums, taiko, percussion, synthesizer).


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *