Keeping the Beat – Taiko performer Kris Gaethofs

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My name is Kris Gaethofs and I was born in 1979 in the region of Limburg, Belgium. I was a quiet, shy kid with a keen interest in books. As soon as I learned how to read I started reading whatever I could get my hands on. I could frequently be seen carrying out mountains of books from the local library and many hours of the day and night were spent in the magical world of these books.

At school, I was primarily interested in math and sciences. Biology, physics, chemistry… I devoured it all. I went on to get a masters in chemistry at the University from Leuven, Belgium. After my masters I stuck around at university as a teaching assistant / researcher.

It was during this time that I made first contact with Japanese culture and language by means of manga and anime. Wanting to learn the language for myself, I started taking evening classes while still working at university. After 2 years of evening classes I was not quite satisfied with my progress, and decided to quit working fulltime and become a part time student at the faculty of arts studying Japanology.

It was also at that time that I started conversing with various Japanese email pals and later started travelling to Japan. I became a JAL Mileage Club member and it’s through this club that I had my first encounter with taiko drumming.

The world-famous Taiko group KODO was visiting Belgium and the JAL mileage club gave away free tickets for their performance. I was one of the lucky ones to get my hands on a ticket. And what can I say… Wow! I was totally blown away.

krisAfter more travels to Japan and falling head over heals for one of my Japanese email pals, I proposed to her in 2007 and we got married later that year in Asahikawa. In April 2008, I moved there and a couple of months later we moved from Asahikawa to the town of Kutchan where I started work for a local company.

4 more years passed by during which I would see many performances by local Taiko legends Youtei Daiko Koryu. And then in 2012 I joined their spring workshop at the Kutchan cultural centre and wow… watching a taiko performance is one thing, but hitting that big drum using your own strength… that’s on a completely different level. This was something I needed to pursue further and thus I became a trainee member of Koryu.

After much practice and some more practice, I became a full performing member during the summer of 2014. From sweltering, hot summer festivals all over Hokkaido to snowy winter performances in the Niseko area, I try to give my very best every single time.

I still have lots to learn and in the years to come hope to continue drumming together with all the other Koryu members who have become like a second family to me.

Minna-san, yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Founded by master Taiko drummer Rokuro Takada, Koryu is a Taiko drumming group located in the Niseko area. The group provides powerful, performances at various events during the year. If you hear the beating drums in the distance, don’t miss the opportunity to be mesmerised by the impressive combination of energy and rhythm that the Koryu members display!

Learn about the history of taiko here


 

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