• Kyodo

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If all goes to plan, plumbing equipment wholesaler Nihon Asahi Chuki Co. will unveil the world’s largest “taiko” drum this autumn.

The instrument will be 3 meters in diameter and 3.2 meters in length, according to the Nagoya company. But more notably, its barrel will be made of aluminum.

Taiko are traditional Japanese drums known for their thundering sound. Like other traditional musical instruments, they are usually made of wood. But Nihon Asahi Chuki’s president, Kazuo Kito, wants to help bring the taiko into the 21st century.

“We want to use the latest technology to give life to a Japanese tradition,” he said. “Using aluminum is cheaper than using wood, which will allow us to make a big taiko.”

Taiko are typically played individually or in groups, in performances full of physical energy and excitement. The company hopes to have its instrument ready in time for it to feature in the Nagoya Matsuri festival, scheduled for mid-October. The company also hopes to have it played and displayed at the planned Aichi 2005 Expo.

After unveiling the drum, Nihon Asahi Chuki will apply to have it listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest taiko in existence.

When company officials dreamed up the idea of making a metal taiko, they claimed they had environmental protection in mind. Using aluminum could help preserve trees. In 1992, the company came out with a stainless steel barrel drum, but the instrument was plagued by resonance that lingered after its skins were struck.

The following year, the company experimented successfully with aluminum. The resulting sound was only slightly different from its wooden counterpart.

The instrument will also need two large cow skins to cover the ends of the barrel. But as no businesses in Japan could produce such an item, the company placed an order with a company in Shanghai.