I was still a junior member the last time I came to Takamatsu in Kagawa on the “One Earth Tour.” In those early days, I was just frantically playing taiko, clinging tight to every lesson the Kodo members were teaching me. So coming back to Kagawa to perform again, about two years on, made me wonder deep down how much I have grown as a performer since last time.
I had the opportunity to write some of the music for the production we are presenting this time, “Mystery.” I write songs using fragments of pieces I composed when I lived in Kagawa and mixing them with new inspiration that came to me after I moved to Sado Island. Through this production, featuring these pieces, I hope that others can see how much I have grown and how much change I have been able to embody. I also hope people can sense something constant in me, a base within me that doesn’t change.
Before I went to Sado Island (to become a Kodo apprentice), I played taiko every day with my childhood friends, somewhat uncertain about the right way to play. I left my childhood friends, went to Sado Island alone to join Kodo, and now I’m playing taiko professionally.
After the performance in Takamatsu, a teacher, who has watched over me growing up since I was really young, said to me, “No matter how great of a pro taiko player you’ve become, your songs still haven’t changed since you were a junior high school student. Even if the melodies and rhythms are different, your taste remains throughout the composition. It’s nostalgic and I’m happy about that.” To have someone who had worked on polishing my musicianship for over 10 years say those words to me, I was so happy I could cry and at the same time I felt determined to aim even higher and work to become a person that everyone to whom I am indebted would be proud of.
Our performance in Kagawa was a chance for me to feel the warmth of my home region, and to take a new look at my own hopes and intentions.
Keikei, composed by Yuta Sumiyoshi
Photos: Takashi Okamoto
On performance days, time is set aside after rehearsals for the performers to have vocalization practise together.
Since Tamasaburo Bando became Kodo’s artistic director, extra effort is going into singing instruction for the performers. The voice is easily affected by your age and the daily condition of your body, so taking the time for everyone to check their voice and focus on practising vocalization is now part of their daily routine.
Naturally the members do this each day when they have rehearsals on Sado Island, but they also have this time allocated for vocalization on tour.
Article featuring Tamasaburo Bando & Kodo in Magazine “Geijutsu Shincho”
An article featuring our artistic director Tamasaburo Bando and Kodo is featured in the June 2014 issue of “Geijutsu Shincho” (Shinchosha Publishing), coming out on May 24. It is full of pictures and stories about the “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery” production. We hope you’ll take a look.
Shinchosha Publishing Website｜http://www.shinchosha.co.jp/geishin/ (in Japanese)
From “Amaterasu” to “Mystery”: Part 4
Article by journalist Sachiko Tamashige
“Mystery” directed by Tamasaburo Bando
The audience may wonder what kind of idea lies behind the production of “Mystery.” To address this, Tamasaburo Bando wrote the following note prior to the opening:
“It’s hard to put into words, but I’m aiming to create a world of mystery. Across Japan, the folk arts have been handed down for countless generations. There’s a sacredness there, an air of mystery within each prayer. The drums express this, and I would like for the audience to feel it, too. I hope theatergoers will experience the same sort of otherworldly splendor that you sense in temples, shrines, and moments of discovery in the forest. I also want people to enjoy darkness: the beauty of something you come across lit by candlelight, a sense that is both vague and marvelous. Peel back the layers surrounding mystery and you find fear, humor, charm, and other varied and significant qualities. In the “Serpent Dances” that have come down from old, the defeated serpent is endowed with a surprising level of sacredness. In this performance, many things will emerge from out of the darkness. While it’s essentially a drum concert, playing as only drums can play, we’ve added plenty of visual interest. A moment of wonder means nothing unless you are actually present to experience it. Religious rituals as well as the arts have been refined over centuries, using inspiration from those who came before us. In this drumming performance, I hope that the audience will enjoy to the fullest that magical sense of space and time.”
Just before the opening, I asked the artistic director Tamasaburo the following question: “What is ‘Mystery’ all about ?”
To present performances of the highest quality, we have intense rehearsals at each theater we visit on tour. A lot of advice and directions fly about when we rehearse together.
The performers get ready for the performances by talking about the detailed nuances of sound and movement so that they will be in tune with one another on stage.
We have just had 3 performances in Kyushu: Kagoshima City on May 10, Hyuga in Miyazaki on May 11, and Fukuoka City on May 13. We always enjoy the atmosphere in each town we visit, performing in each unique theater, and meeting the locals. (And, of course, we have to sample the local cuisine!)
Everyday we are either traveling or performing and we are so grateful to meet all the people who welcome us at each place on the road. The tour has just started. We will go to Shikoku next!
Kodo One Earth Tour in Shikoku!
We look forward to seeing you all at the following theaters:
【Kagawa】May 21 (Wed) Sunport Hall Takamatsu, Takamatsu
Start: 18:30/ Inquiries: Okayama Onkyo Tel.086-224-6066
【Ehime】May 23 (Fri) Nanyo Bunka Kaikan, Uwajima
Start:18:30/ Inquiries: Tsushima Taiko Shudan Miyabi Tel. 090-2782-4792 (Mr. Tanaka)
【Ehime】May 24 (Sat) Matsuyama Shimin Kaikan Dai-Hall, Matsuyama
Start:18:00/ Inquiries: EBC Enterprise Tel. 089-933-0322
From “Amaterasu” to “Mystery”: Part 3
Article by journalist Sachiko Tamashige
Iwami Kagura: Feeling the Heat and Beat in Shimane Prefecture
Yosuke Kusa admires Taizo Kobayashi, his teacher of Iwami Kagura (Iwami: a region, the west part of Shimane Prefecture/ Kagura: dance and music for the kami, or deities): “Taizo looks so cool when he claps his hands to pray for deities in front of the household Shinto altar. Even his everyday routines show his integrity, which is also reflected in his Kagura performance. Kagura is not just about dancing — it is also the way a performer lives their life.” Yosuke met Taizo at the Kyoto University of Art and Design when Taizo ran an Iwami Kagura workshop. Around ten years ago, he started visiting Taizo in his hometown of Yunotsu, Shimane Prefecture.
Taizo’s primary job is making masks for Iwami Kagura. In September of 2013, two cast members of Jamai — Yosuke and Shogo Komatsuzaki — spent two weeks at Taizo’s studio to learn the serpent dance, as well as experience life with the local people. Yosuke and Shogo tried to get to the heart of the Kagura by visiting local shrines, going for runs in the surrounding nature and exchanging ideas and music techniques through sessions with members of a local group of Iwami Kagura. “The local people live with the deities by practicing rituals to either purify themselves or show their gratitude,” Yosuke added, “Iwami Kagura is nourished and enlivened by the way the locals live their lives, and it has been handed down from their ancestors to future generations. Iwami Kagura is also a way for adults to teach good behavior and adherence to the social code to their children. I would like to learn not only the forms and techniques but also its spirit, which links our lives with our direct experience on stage.”
On May 6, we boarded a ferry bound for Kyushu. We are used to seeing the Sea of Japan from the Sado ferry, so it was fun to see different seas during this 15-hour journey.
While we were waiting for the ferry, some of us really enjoyed a quiz game. Everyone was somewhat excited so this trip felt different than our usual bus travel!
Kodo Performances in Kyushu!
We look forward to seeing you all there!
Kagoshima May 10 (Sat) Houzan Hall (Kagoshima Prefectural Culture Center) Start: 17:30/ Inquiries: Kagoshima Onkyo Tel. 099-226-3465
Miyazaki May 11 (Sun) Hyuga Bunka Koryu Center Start: 18:00/ Inquiries: Hyuga Bunka Koryu Center Tel. 0982-54-6111
Fukuoka May 13 (Tue) Fukuoka Symphony Hall Start: 18:30/ Inquiries: Picnic Ticket Center Tel. 050-3539-8330
We have just set off from Kodo Village on our Spring “Mystery” tour!
We will start our tour from Kagoshima, in Kyushu where I was born. I am so excited! We are looking forward to seeing you all, all over Japan!
The posters you usually see in Asakusa are very unique: thin, narrow and illustrated. They are so creative and lovely. The other day, I found a Kodo poster in between a couple of festival posters when I was out and about.