Taiko no Tatsujin (太鼓の達人)

There’s a certain Japanese game with which I am a little obsessed. My obsession started on honeymoon when we visited Kabukicho, near Shinjuku. We were a little naïve and didn’t know anything about Kabukicho – we just stumbled upon it in our still slightly dazed by the wonder of it all state, and only realised later that it’s the largest ‘entertainment’/red light district in Tokyo. The main draw for us was the Taito Station where we could play on arcade games and keep out of the rain.

One of the games we encountered was Taiko no Tatsujin – or Drum Expert, a game made by Namco over various platforms. The arcade game consists of a video screen above a pair of taiko drums with sticks for two players to bash their hearts out to a variety of tunes. We played it once. I got light headed and giddy. I have loved it ever since. Even though that first time we played, I forgot to take my rings and bracelets off and ended up with blood blisters on my hands and bruises on my wrists.

This is the only picture of me with a taiko game, by the way. I have always been too busy playing to bother with taking photographs. And we have played many times on our subsequent trips to Japan.

Since that first time, we try to seek out Taito Stations wherever we go. Because we were crazy fools the first time we went to Japan, we used Kyoto as our main base and actually went on day trips to Tokyo. I know, I know. Our trip to Shinjuku was at the end of a day trip to the Ghibli Museum at Mitaka. We had a couple of days in Tokyo at the end of the trip, staying in Asakusa, which has its very own Taito Station. We did more drumming there, and on each of our subsequent stays in Asakusa.

We’ve drummed in Kyoto, in the entrance to an arcade on the covered part of Teramachi Dori. We’ve drummed in Hiroshima, in a small Taito Station that doesn’t appear on the official Taito Station website. We’ve yet to drum in Akihabara, but as that’s where we’re staying next trip, I’ve no doubt that we will. For some reason, even though we were staying in Namba last trip, we haven’t drummed in the Taito Station in Osaka.

Taiko no Tatsujin played in Taito Stations has introduced me to Kaela Kimura via the delightful Ring-A-Ding-Dong and to Kyari Pamyu Pamyu. Not to mention Orange Range and Arashi.

My obsession took further hold when I bought a second hand DS Lite while we were in Japan on honeymoon and a bunch of Taiko no Tatsujin games. Complete with miniature drumsticks! I love the DS games. I can’t play the Oni level, and I never have a clue what’s going on in the side games, but I can’t get enough of them. Before our next trip, I think I’m going to have to get a 3DS because a fourth DS game came out last year that you can only play on the 3DS.

As if to encourage me in my obsession, two years ago, my husband bought me a Taiko Manekko Don Don toy for my birthday.

Taiko Manekko Don Don

If I could justify it to myself, I’d get the Wii games too.

There’s a Taiko no Tatsujin channel on YouTube, and here’s a video from someone who can play at Oni level, so you can see what it’s about (they’re playing along to Cha-La Head Cha-La, which is one of my favourites):

And here’s a film showing the arcade version of the game:

You’re welcome!



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