Kioto Aoki’s was born into the performing tradition as 5th generation of the Toyoakimoto house, an okiya (geisha house) performing arts family from Tokyo with roots dating back to the Edo period. Studying under her Tokyo-born father Tatsu Aoki (Toyoaki Sanjuro) and now performing shamisen under her professional name Toyoaki Chitose (豊秋千東勢), Aoki continues this artistic family lineage in Chicago on taiko, shamisen and tsuzumi.

Her musical practice maintains a balance of retaining the artistic and aesthetic integrity of traditional Japanese music with a musical flexibility that extends beyond the measures of cultural preservation. Her taiko playing is informed by the Japanese aesthetics of ma while challenging the common misinterpretation and beliefs of percussion as rhythm, and uses often stoic gestures of sonic textures, abstracted soundscapes and embodied phrasing that incorporates choreography as part of melody.

Musical projects include Experimental Sound Studio’s Sonic Pavilion Festival at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, the Soundtrack series at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Tatsu Aoki’s The MIYUMI Project, Yoko Ono’s SKYLANDING, The Reduction Ensemble, and the Taiko Legacy / Reduction series. Kioto also leads Tsukasa Taiko, the Japanese drumming program at Asian Improv aRts Midwest and is active within the experimental and creative music communities in Chicago and the Bay Area.


Paper, not plastic
Second album of solo taiko recordings released by FPE Records
in collaboration with AIRMW’s
AA Arts Initiative program

Solo album: No Traffic in Space (2021)
available from Asian Improv Records
Featured in: Best of the MIYUMI Project (2020)
available from FPE Records