Taiko no Tatsujin Player

Alive in Tokyo’s arcades is the subtle and dignified art of Japanese taiko drumming (to the Super Mario Bros. theme tune).

Every year, in the rowdy fun of my local autumn festival, the highstreet crowds stop silent and drummers play. They swing thick batons at taiko drums in looping swirls, and shout counterpoint calls in turn as the rhythm swells.

They do all this in the middle of the road and the traffic just has to wait.

Maybe the drummers carry their donburi vests with such noble poise that the crowds part to provide a stage as they arrive.

Maybe they play with such élan that the stage forms around them after they start.

Either could be true.

Although Taiko Drum Master is not exactly the same thing, something about the stance of this player tells me he has seen performers like the ones on my highstreet.

He’s not playing a videogame: he’s playing a drum.

Photographer and writer covering Tokyo arcade life – the videogames, the metropolis and the people