Building upon this festival foundation, the member’s performance techniques were soon enhanced through hōgaku techniques learned in lessons with Kineya Sasazō, a musician in charge of hōgaku drumming at the National Theater. Through these lessons, members came to combine their festival drumming experience with performance techniques drawn from hōgaku music of kabuki and nō (such as specific hitting techniques for the shime-daiko and the use of stylized vocal gestures called kakegoe). This development would continue even after Shin On Daiko disbanded due to a lack of funds and reformed as Sukeroku Taiko; members continued to refine their performance techniques, bringing together festival and theatrical drumming elements in a style now known as the Sukeroku style of taiko performance.
As Sukeroku Taiko were developing the musical side of their performance style by combining festival and theatrical drumming techniques, they also continued the visual experimentation they began as bon daiko performers, culminating with the creation in the late 1960s of a piece entitled “Nidan Uchi” (“Hitting Two Sides,” seen in Video 5 below). Born out of necessity when they needed a work that would look good in a hall where performers were surrounded by the audience, “Nidan Uchi” utilizes a medium-sized nagadō-daiko on a naname-dai and a large ō-daiko on a stand that sets it at eye-level, positioned in such a way that a performer can hit both drums at the same time (hence the reference to “two sides” in the title). Performers then combined the visual experimentation of Tokyo-style bon daiko with certain choreographic elements taken from Korean drum dances, adding these elements to a rhythmic framework based on festival rhythms from the island of Hachijō south of Tokyo. This piece would later be expanded into a new version called “Yodan Uchi” (“Hitting Four Sides”) that added another nagadō-daiko to the other side of the ō-daiko, allowing for two soloists to perform at the same time (a variation of which is seen at the end of Video 4).
“Nidan Uchi” added a new visual element to the Sukeroku style of contemporary taiko, resulting in a complex mode of performance that integrated a wide variety of musical and choreographic elements in a professional environment. Indeed, the professional status of Sukeroku Taiko is worth noting, as it differed from the amateur approach taken by Ōsuwa Daiko. Sukeroku Taiko was the first professional taiko group in Japan, working as a musical group for hire. Just as Oguchi Daihachi helped spread the Ōsuwa Daiko form of taiko through performances at festivals and on television (yet focusing most of the group’s attention of local festival performance), the exposure gained through the acceptance of a wide variety of contracted gigs helped the Sukeroku Taiko style of performance gain in popularity across the Tokyo region.