When one imagines 'Taiko' drums, it is these magestic solid elm bodied giants that usually come to mind. Though drawing their origins in the drums of mainland Asia - Japanese Nagado taiko (also known as Miya daiko, Josuke daiko) are unique to Japan in materials and craftsmanship, as they evolved as an iconic instrument of Japanese religious, ceremonial and folk music over the centuries.
Today's nagado (long bodied) drums are crafted from a variety of woods, but most traditionally they are found carved of a single trunk of a Keyaki tree, an elm of Japanese origin. This dense wood is immensely heavy and sturdy, lending to the longevity of the Japanese taiko - with many remaining in existence having survived for centuries.
Because the Keyaki has become scarce, today it is common if not preferred for Taiko enthusiasts to use drums crafted of more readily available materials.
Skins are tightened only once and used for years, allowing for only a single pitch between skins. The voice of a taiko thus changes and deepens over years of use - part of the grace of these gentle giants.