Langley Taiko drummers set to make some noise

Several Topham Elementary students will be making noise on May 23 and their teacher Kanata Soranaka couldn’t be prouder.

Topham Tora Taiko
The Topham Tora Taiko drum group has a fundraising concert on May 23. Tora is Japanese for tiger, the school mascot. – Kanata Soranaka

They are members of the Topham Tora Taiko drummers and will be using their talents to raise money to help others.

The school in Walnut Grove is unique, offering Japanese as a second language, and the school population continues to watch the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake in 2011.

“Several students in the Grade 6/7 taiko club were in my Grade 3/4 class in when the 2011 earthquake and tsunami affected Northeastern Japan,” Soranaka said.

The funds will help Rainbow House which cares for orphans (

“I really like the thought of helping others, especially those in need. Every year on March 11, I think about the unfortunate event in Japan and if I were there. If I was a child in Japan, and now an orphan, it wouldn’t be easy to forget the past. Even though I live in Canada, I feel that it’s important to do something. Losing friends, family and your home can be very difficult. I just want to give those orphans in Japan hope, and remind them that we believe in them to move on in life,” said Grade 6 student Mehek Budshah.

The event will also have art work displays created by students at Topham Elementary School that have been inspired the Tohoku people.

“We want them to know that we have not forgotten about them and that we are sending them a rainbow of hope,” Soranaka said.

Audience members will be invited to sing along during the fundraiser.

“Our concert will also feature the singing of the song Hana wa Saku (Flowers Will Bloom), a piece that was commissioned to build public support for the 3/11 disaster recovery efforts,” she said.

Soranaka is a member of the semi-professional taiko group Sansho Daiko, based in Vancouver.

The group’s music is fusion of music and ethnicities, making for a unique West Coast sound.

As well the group Vancouver Okinawa Taiko will perform with Okinawan folk performances of music and dance. Its members range from six through to people in their 50s.

There are 275 tickets being sold and Soranaka said the show is appropriate for ages three and older. Tickets will also be available at the school office between 2:40 to 3:15 p.m. from May 19 to 22 or at the door on the night of the concert. The show starts at 7 p.m. at 20155 91st Ave.

The concert is one of the school’s efforts to help since the earthquake.

Right after the disaster, the school community held a fun fair to raise money that went to help schools in Iwate Prefecture.

This year’s Grade 6/7 taiko club has prepared a special tribute for the survivors of Tohoku that includes a poem that was written by a survivor as well as a response written by a Grade 7 Topham student Jyn Ono.

“This year, I have 14 students in the Grade 5 taiko club and nine students in the Grade 6/7 taiko club,” Soranaka said. “The Grade 5 students participate in introductory lunchtime practises that focus on rhythm and movement activities while the Grade 6/7 students rehearse after school on Wednesdays to refine their skills, learn repertoire and arrange performance pieces.  Both groups will be performing at the concert.”

Learn more at

Topham Tora Taiko

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