DRUM-Tao performer Taro Harasaki compares his lifestyle to that of a monk or being in the military. What’s more, he claims he is a lifer.
Harasaki is a lead drummer in the acclaimed Japanese troupe, which returns to Australia in July and will be giving a performance in Newcastle.
Harasaki and the troupe, exponents of the martial art of taiko drumming, live in a secluded community in the Kuju Highlands on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.
His is a monkish existence, rising at 5am each day and maintaining a gruelling fitness regime that includes a 12-kilometre run up a mountain, martial arts training and drumming for at least 10 hours.
The troupe trains and performs 355 days a year, beating huge Wadaiko drums which have a circumference of up to 1.7metres and weigh up to 400kilograms.
‘‘With just 10 days off a year, it’s really tough to have a girlfriend and see her,’’ Harasaki told The Word.
However, the single man says this is the level of dedication needed to be successful in America and overseas.
‘‘I’m used to it now. I’ve been doing this six years,’’ Harasaki told The Word, although he did admit that during his first year of training he thought he was in hell.
‘‘During the first year you are forbidden to have a girlfriend, use the telephone, smoke, drink alcohol or read comics. It’s very hard,’’ he said.
After that year, if the drummers do not measure up to the standard required, they have to leave the troupe.
Harasaki, 31, says he will remain with the troupe as long as he can, possibly for life.
But he says that if he could retire to any country, it would be Australia.
‘‘It’s my favourite country in the world, the climate, people and the nature.’’
Harasaki played drums in a school band at high school and later studied languages at university. He also lived in Canada before auditioning for Tao in 2004.
‘‘I remember at the time I thought I was a really good drummer. I was confident and then once I joined Tao I realised I was nowhere near as good as them,’’ he said.
Drum-Tao will perform at the Civic Theatre in Newcastle on Tuesday, July 20.