Interview: Marco Lienhard & his TAIKOZA – the man keeping Japanese culture alive?!

Text by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

Who’s Marco Lienhard? What does he do here in NY? Oh, he’s a musician. No kidding. What makes him different from other musicians in NY? Many of these questions he’s going to answer in the video interview.

I have known Marco for more than thirty years. We met in Osaka, Japan, when we were thirty years younger. At that time I studied Kendo at a sports college and had just started playing sax. Marco, as far as I can remember, was an exchange student. We both were young and starting our adult lives far in the Far East. Both of us had no idea that we would stay in Japan for a very long time and would master a specific Japanese art. Marco is one of the first Europeans to learn and master the shakuhachi and taiko drum in Japan, and I myself become a Kendo master. In 2008 NY brought us together.

It is very interesting for you to know that people like Marco and me know more about Japan, the Japanese people and Japanese culture than the Japanese themselves. You might think, how can he say that? But it’s true because it’s a matter of fact that the majority of Japanese don’t know anything about Japanese classical music and their classical instruments? It’s unbelievable that a country like Japan lost track of many of its roots by the invasion of American and European cultures after the Second World War.

In fact Marco, I and many other foreigners around the world keep Japanese culture alive because we learned from Japanese masters. We were willing to listen to them and tried to copy them as best as possible. For doing so we had to learn Japanese and study Japanese history. We had to prove everyday that we were not different from Japanese. Because the common Japanese attitude was that a foreigner, a gaijin, would never understand Japanese culture. But Marco and I proved that’s not true anymore. Due to our gratitude to our teachers and their faith in us we follow in their foot steps and continue teaching and performing their art here in NY and around the world with the hope that Japanese culture stays alive.

Please enjoy the three interview videos below in which Marco speaks about himself,  his life in Japan, his shakuhachi and taiko studies, his career and music workshops, and about his NY concert May 4th and 5th. (Read more about his show here.) And he’s performing on the shakuhachi in the last video.