TAIKO BOOM: Japanese Drumming in Place and Motion, by Shawn Bender. University of California Press, 2012, 259?pp., $29.95 (paperback)

No one can fail to be impressed by a live performance of Japanese drumming, the primal elements of stretched animal skin and wood striking a chord of ancient recognition.

Shawn Bender firmly places the genesis of modern taiko drumming in an awareness of Japanese folkloric practices and the study of the musical genre in the category of native ethnology. One account set in the 1950s has Tagayasu Den, founder of the groundbreaking group Ondekoza, mesmerized while watching a man on the remote Okinawan island of Yonaguni, an old villager who had "brought a taiko drum to the beach in the evening and played it until the sun came up."