For the past 39 years, Roy and PJ Hirabayashi have founded and cultivated San Jose Taiko(SJT) into international status. Beginning as only the 3rd taiko group to form in the United States in 1973, Roy and PJ, guided and developed a distinctive, contemporary, Asian- American sound that fuses traditional taiko rhythms with musical and cultural influences from around the world. Until their semi-retirement in mid-2011, Roy was the Executive Director and PJ was the Artistic Director.
PJ Hirabayashi is the Artistic Director Emeritus of San Jose Taiko. Considered a pioneer of North American taiko, she is recognized in the international taiko community for her distinctive performance and teaching style that combine movement, dance, drumming, fluidity, joy, and energy. She helped develop and codify SJT’s unique style and holistic philosophy, which is emulated and modeled by other taiko practitioners and taiko organizations around the globe. She has been a performing member, instructor, costume designer, and composer for SJT.
Recent collaborations include Triangle Project (Nobuko Miyamoto, Yoko Fujimoto), Kabuki Cabaret (Brenda Wong Aoki, Mark Izu), and Butoh (Judith Kajiwara). Her present work is TaikoPeace, an extension of Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion. She is a certified Peace Ambassador and recent recipient of the Arts Council of Silicon Valley Fellowship for Music Performance. She has received the Pacific Asian Women’s “Woman Warrior Award in the Arts” and the Santa Clara County Women’s Fund Award in the Arts.
Under Roy and PJ’s leadership, SJT has received numerous awards including the Foreign Minister of Japan Commendation Award in 2010 for sharing the Japanese culture in the US through their taiko work. They were invited to Washington DC to be awarded the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, a lifetime honor in Traditional and Folk Arts.