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Narukami Taiko

Started by Jessie Gibbs in 2014, Narukami Taiko has grown in leaps and bounds in just 8 years. The team now has over 80 members – of all ages and from all walks of life. The team is diverse but united by its passion for the sound, intensity and spirit of taiko. Members support, respect and encourage each other - irrespective of skill level or experience. Firm friendships are formed as we work together to learn the principles of Taiko, performance techniques and a variety of modern taiko songs and traditional festival tunes. Narukami Taiko plays at a variety of different types of events, conducts workshops, and holds classes 4 days each week for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.

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Jessie Gibbs

Jessie Gibbs is a taiko performer and instructor from Wellington, New Zealand. Jessie first experienced taiko when studying at IPUNZ. She played with the university team Kodama for 3 years becoming their captain in her final year. After a year of teaching English in Japan and wanting to continue her taiko journey, she formed the community group Narukami Taiko. Jessie regularly studies taiko travelling overseas for tuition, and has performed taiko in Japan and North America. Jessie’s dream of unity, inclusiveness, and the desire to just play drums with friends has helped Narukami grow from just 9 members at conception in 2014 to over 60 members today. Narukami is a diverse team that encourages both individuality and acceptance.

Picture of Founder and Music Director Jessie Gibbs 

Watch us 

Watch 'Bunka!: Narukami Taiko, to learn a little more about us and our classes.

Bunka! is a podcast researching pockets of Japanese culture around New Zealand. 


Taiko 太鼓 is a dynamic art form originating from ancient Japan. In Japanese, taiko refers to any kind of drum. Archaeological evidence shows that taiko were used in Japan as early as the 6th century CE, during the latter part of the Kofun period, when taiko were used for communication, and in festivals and other rituals. In feudal Japan, taiko were used in war and helped set the pace for troops marching into battle. Later on, specific drum calls were used to order troops to advance or retreat. Nowadays, outside Japan, taiko is used to refer to any of the various Japanese drums called wadaiko (和太鼓 "Japanese drums"). Kumi daiko is ensemble drumming on different wadaiko. – this is now commonly referred to as Taiko drummimg. Narukami Narukami is one of the names given to the Shinto Japanese god of thunder and lightning. Other names for this god include Raijin, Kaminari-sama and Raiden-sama. Narukami is often depicted with a fierce, frightening face and a muscular figure. He is surrounded by Taiko drums that he plays to create the sound of thunder.

Statue of Raijin the God of Thunder and Lightening depicted playing taiko in Sanjūsangen-dō a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.

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