Masami Miyazaki’s lean legs ripple with muscle; her strong, sinewy forearms swing upward through the air. She draws a grounding breath in, chest expanding. The bachi drumsticks beat down powerfully on cowhide stretched taut over a wooden drum.

The mesmerizing booming sound of the taiko drum echoes the beat of Miyazaki’s heart.

Historically, it has usually been a man standing in front of the mighty taiko. A woman’s role was reserved for singing or dancing, their bodies judged incapable of meeting the demanding physicality of playing taiko.