Odaiko New England

Taiko T-shirts

Photo courtesy of Audrey Bergeron-Morin

Photo courtesy of Audrey Bergeron-Morin

If you have been playing taiko for any length of time, chances are that you have collected at least a few taiko t-shirts! I cleaned my closet the other day to find that I have exactly 33 taiko t-shirts…enough to fill two drawers. I counted my collection and determined that black was the predominant color! 15 of them! Does that mean that I like black? I do. That I prefer black? Probably? Or that most taiko groups make/sell black t-shirts? Quite likely. My second highest number is blue (light and dark).  Of those, I own seven. I have five red ones and three green, and I also have one each of white, brown and beige.

Where have I gotten all my taiko tees?  Some I have bought in Japan, and some I have gotten at taiko conferences, workshops or concerts.  I have also received some as gifts, and of course, I have several which I have from Odaiko New England. T-shirt styes come in a women’s cut or unisex. I own some of each, but most of my t-shirts are unisex.

What constitutes a great taiko t-shirt? Well for everyone that is different. Color and design no doubt play a part. Some shirts have loud splashy designs, some don’t. Some designs are contemporary, and some more traditional. Some might even use cartoonish graphics or fonts. Many use Japanese writing/calligraphy.  Some taiko groups have a signature color, and some don’t. My preferences, however,  are driven less by design and more by the weight and quality of the fabric. I favor cotton or a cotton blend that is lighter in weight and a bit stretchy.

One thing you can do with taiko t-shirts is customize them. You can tear or cut a t-shirt to give it a completely different look. Here’s an cut tishirt-jasmineexample of what an Odaiko New England member did to modify a t-shirt.  Another friend of mine completely retooled a taiko t-shirt by cutting its sleeves and neck, taking it in on the sides to make it more form fitting and by adding a crocheted edge on the neck and sleeves. Both approaches are great ways to dress up and/or personalize your tee!

You can also take the lazy-man approach and just cut the neck and/or sleeves a bit, which is about all that I ever do. This makes them a little cooler to wear…not in a fashion sense but in a temperature sense! If you are looking for some interesting ways to cut or modify a t-shirt, there are many great instructional videos online.  Just search by entering key words like “cut t shirt designs” and many lots of videos will crop up.

Where can you wear your taiko t-shirt? Well, to taiko practice obviously. Taiko performances. Or pretty much anywhere. I traveled with someone recently who had several different colors of her taiko group’s t-shirt, so she wore a different one each day of the trip! Given that I have 33 taiko t-shirts,  I could probably go an entire month of without ever having to launder one!

I wondered if my collection of tees were similar in number to what other taiko players and pros had, so I posed the question to the Facebook taiko community. Responses varied. Some had a few, and some had  close to the number that I had. One had about 80 shirts. The winner by far though was a one well-known North American taiko professional who said that she had “two 80-gallon bins, probably another three 24-gallon bins, three drawers and others scattered here and there.”

And what can you do with worn-out  taiko t-shirts or ones that have become too small? Recycle them in creative ways! You could make a quilt.  It will be pretty when done but can be a little difficult to sew since t-shirt material is stretchy. Apparently this is something several taiko players have done. Or you can make something like a drawstring bag (www.instructables.com) which could be used for toting taiko accessories! And of course, you can also just pass them on to someone else!


taiko quilt

Photo courtesy of Teresa Lanz

ONE tshirt


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