Art Lee (TOKARA Artistic Director/Composer/Performer) is considered to be one of the leading Taiko artists of his generation. After starting taiko in 1993 in Sacramento, California, he soon became a performing member of the Sacramento Taiko Dan. Later, he was invited to join one of the world’s most famed Taiko groups, Za Ondekoza. After moving to Japan, Art Lee became a soloist and won the Unique Prize for Skill and Artistry at both the All-Japan Wadaiko Contest in Fukui Prefecture and the Kumamoto Odaiko Championships.
In November 2001, Art Lee first received international acclaim for becoming the first person in the world to be awarded an artist visa from the Japanese government to teach Taiko and lead the life of a professional Taiko artist in Japan. Then again on October 15th, 2005 for becoming the first and only non-Japanese to win First Place in the Solo Odaiko section of The Tokyo International Wadaiko Contest – the most prestigious and renowned Taiko contest in the world.
Since then, he has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious theatres including Aoyama Gekijyo and Suntory Hall (Japan), Tonhalle (Germany), and Carnegie Hall (New York) and is also the only non-Japanese taiko artist in the world to be selected four times to
perform at the annual “All-Stars of Japan” Taiko concert in Tokyo, Japan. Art tours the world both as a solo artist and as the artistic director
of internationally touring group, Wadaiko Ensemble TOKARA, as well as being the founder of Suiko and Nadeshiko taiko groups, and the
festival group, Haruka in Japan.
Art Lee has been instrumental in creating cross-cultural ties between taiko groups and enthusiasts in Japan, Europe and North America. He created the annual intensive workshops in Japan including the “INADANI Taiko Drumming Course” and “Tokara Wadaiko Bootcamp”.