Seiichi Tanaka

Senior Vocationist

Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1943. He attended Chiba University of Commerce on a baseball scholarship, graduating in 1964. On a visit to the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown in 1967, Grandmaster Tanaka was surprised to learn that there was no Taiko: “In Japan, Taiko is played at practically every occasion — especially special
ones like festivals, or ceremonies,” he said, concluding that he needed to introduce this powerful musical art form to the United States. The next year, Grandmaster Tanaka emerged as the sole Taiko drummer at the Cherry Blossom Festival and then established San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first such school in the United States. In the subsequent fifty-five years, more than 15,000 men, women, and children have been fortunate to study under Grandmaster Tanaka and students have gone on to establish over 250 other Taiko groups throughout the United States and Canada.

Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka has been recognized and awarded by various countries for his talents and contributions to the preservation of Japanese traditions and culture. He was named a National Heritage Fellow by the United States National Endowment for the Arts; honored by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs with its prestigious Foreign Minister’s Commendation; one of only 41 individuals to be recognized with the Order of the Rising Sun, presented by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, Emperor Akihito.

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