The music of the Japanese drum is now recognized worldwide under the helm of wadaiko and taiko. Mr. Hayashi Eitetsu is a musician who has been constantly at the forefront of creative interpretations of this taiko music. Traditionally in Japan and especially in Sado, Chichibu and Hachijojima Island, each area has its own drum culture featured in the local performing arts that are intertwined with regional religious festivals and celebrations. Mr. Hayashi has dramatically achieved an entirely new form of performing art by building on the foundations of traditional taiko with the strength and beauty of physical movements.
People tend to think “all drummers sound the same” or “sound monotonous”, but Mr. Hayashi has successfully shown that, in reality, a rich range of sounds can be created by using different types of drumsticks, striking different places of the drum, and controlling the strength of the strikes. He has also excellently demonstrated the possibility of broadening taiko's expressiveness by combining many different types of drums, and combining them with bells and flutes. He has also collaborated with orchestras and musicians in different genres from around the world, such as: Japanese jazz musician, Yamashita Yosuke; percussionist from the Republic of Guinea, Mamady Keïta; Korean Samulnori player (and Fukuoka prize laureate), Kim Duk-soo and more. Through these innovative performances, he strives to introduce Japanese culture to the rest of the world. Mr. Hayashi is a lone runner who established an entirely new and unique form of taiko music, and continues to evolve it.
After performing in a taiko group for 11 years from the early 1970s, Mr. Hayashi began his solo career as a taiko drummer. He performed energetically in concerts all over Japan, and actively supported educational and charitable events. In March 2021, he commemorated his 50th anniversary as a taiko performer with a solo performance at Suntory Hall, and followed this with a second commemorative performance in February 2022, with some distinguished guest performers including butoh dancer, Maro Akaji. There was much excitement about these concerts.
Mr. Hayashi has also enjoyed remarkable overseas success. In 1984, he made his international debut at Carnegie Hall as the solo taiko drummer in Mizuno Shuko’s Metamorphosis of Beat Rhythm Part 3. He has been performing regularly ever since in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Hi-ten-yu composed by Matsushita Isao is said to have been performed more than 100 times with overseas orchestras, and Mr. Hayashi has now become one of the best-known Japanese musicians abroad. In recognition of these activities, he was awarded the Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts Promotion in 1997, the Japan Traditional Cultures Foundation Award in 2001, the Matsuo Performing Arts Award Grand Prize in 2017 and the JTS Yamamoto Kuniyama Memorial Award in 2021.
It is not appropriate to describe Mr. Hayashi simply as a taiko drummer: as well as drumming, he has shown outstanding skill in music composition and stage direction. Since his youth, he has had a rich knowledge of art, giving him a distinctive aesthetic sense that guides his presentation of the physical performances of taiko drummers, the visual designs of his sets and the costumes. Works like Leonard: donne-moi des ailes, which he created in 2004, seem to transcend their musical framework to become a brand new form of dramatic art that could be described as “musical drama". This is taiko art, a world that Hayashi Eitetsu has created by combining different artistic elements. Since 1995, he has led the Eitetsu-Fuun-no-Kai, and has devoted himself to teaching the next generation.
Thus, as Japan’s foremost exponent of taiko music, Mr. Hayashi has tirelessly devoted his efforts and passion to the pursuit of original expression and the achievement of the perfect performance. He is active on a global scale, and for his contributions, Mr. Hayashi Eitetsu is truly worthy of the Grand Prize of the Fukuoka Prize.