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“For Kodo, August Means Earth Celebration” by Tomohiro Mitome

This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo.

In July, the weather was mostly sunny despite it being the rainy season here. However, there were also heavy rain and flood warnings and landslides ocurred in some areas. Thank you to everyone who expressed their concern for our safety.

As for our tours, the “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery” Japan tour members returned to Sado after two and half months on the road and the Kodo “DADAN” Europe tour members left at the beginning of July, gave performances in Spain and France, and have now safely returned to Sado.

Now, it is August.
August means it is time for our annual festival “Earth Celebration” (EC).

Photo: Satoko MaedaPhoto: Satoko Maeda

This year Earth Celebration will be held for the 27th time. The first evening’s Shiroyama Concert “UMI / OCEANwill feature the entire Kodo group, from its youngest performers to its veterans. For the second night’s concert “DAICHI / EARTH,” Kodo has invited “BLUE TOKYO.”  For the third night’s concert “SHUKUSAI / CELEBRATION,”  Kodo has invited two groups: BLUE TOKYO and “DAZZLE,” as well as drummer Tetsuya Kajiwara as a special guest. We will hold concerts for three-days.

Photo: Maiko Miyagawa

The Shiroyama Concerts, EC’s main concert events, take place up on the hill in Shiroyama Park’s lush green surroundings. A star-filled sky and the chirp of cicadas complete this natural outdoor arena. This is one of the only chances you get each year to lie back on the grass and watch Kodo perform outside.

Photo: Satoko MaedaPhoto: Maiko Miyagawa
Photo: Maiko MiyagawaPhoto: Satoko Maeda

Concerts are not the only focus of Earth Celebration. You can watch the pre-event Noh performance and take workshops to learn taiko, Sado traditional performing arts and dance. You can experience the history, nature and culture of Sado through “Exploring the Charm of Sado Island” activities, watch free Fringe Event performances, and enjoy the international food and goods at Harbour Market. These are just some of the many things that will be on offer at the festival!

This year, EC Theatre is back on the lineup. I will be taking part in this small ensemble performance, called “Kodo Dai Ginjo “Seasoned Quintet.” We have been rehearsing and rehearsing and it will be a special performance, a programme only possible by a small group of us in an intimate venue! We hope you can come along!
So, I hope you will join us for all of EC, not only the main concerts. Please come along for the full three days to thoroughly enjoy all that the festival has to offer.

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

During the festival, people from all over Japan and all around the world gather in the south-west corner of Sado Island, the Ogi Peninsula where Kodo is based. During the three days of festivities, I hope both repeaters and first-timers alike will enjoy their summer stay on Sado in their own way, at their own pace. We want to have a good time with all of you!
Please come to Sado Island this summer and experience our outdoor concerts for yourself. We are looking forward to seeing you here.


Earth Celebration Shiroyama Concerts 2014

“Kodo and Sado” by Tomohiro Mitome

July 1, 2014

This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo.
At the beginning of June, the rainy season set in around the Kanto area (near Tokyo) and I expected that it would reach us on Sado by mid-June. However, even though they have had rain on the mainland in Niigata, thanks to some westerlies we have mainly had just clouds and it’s been around 24 degrees on Sado most of the time. It’s is a little chilly in the morning and at night.

This month, I’m going to talk about the connection between Kodo and Sado.


Kodo Apprentice Centre (Kakinoura, Sado Island)


When you include the years of our antecedant group Ondekoza, about 40 years have passed since Kodo established its base on Sado Island. Before merging into one city (Sado City) a decade ago, the island was divided into ten municipalities. At first, our group was based in Hatano Town, then it moved to Mano Town, and finally we relocated to Ogi Town twenty-six years ago. The Kodo Apprentice Centre was located in Aikawa Town for six years, then in Mano Town for four years, and then it moved to its current home of Kakinoura nineteen years ago.
Most of the Kodo members now seen on stage are graduates from our Apprentice Centre in Kakinoura. Looking back, almost 200 young people to date have come to Sado Island to become Kodo apprentices. Some of them stayed on Sado after they finished the apprentice programme, and of course we, the Kodo members and staff, live on Sado, have families, and make our own connections in the community by living here and sending our children to school here.
If you want to know why our group chose Sado Island for its base, well, it’s a long story that requires some time to explain. If you are interested and can read Japanese, please read Kodo’s 30th anniversary publication Inochi Moyashite, Tatakeyo. – 30 Years of Kodo –. You will get to know a great deal about our group and learn about its roots. (Note: This book has Japanese text only with no English translation.)


Onidaiko from “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery”(Photo: Simon Jay Price)

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Presenting the New Online Kodo Photo Gallery


Tomohiro Mitome, Kodo Ensemble Leader


Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Yuichiro Funabashi, Kodo Deputy Ensemble Leader



Yoshikazu Fujimoto (Distinguished Member)


Photo: Karen Steains

Chieko Kojima (Distinguished Member)


Photo: Karen Steains

Yoko Fujimoto (Distinguished Member)



Motofumi Yamaguchi (Distinguished Member)

“Visit from Mr. Arata Iura” by Tomohiro Mitome

On May 31, Mr. Arata Iura came to Kodo Village while he was holidaying on Sado Island.

He is an actor and model who has his own design brand “Elnest Creative Activity,” a man of many talents, and one of his hobbies is photography. So we showed him to our rehearsal hall and played Yatai-bayashi and O-daiko for him while he enthusiastically took photos of us drumming.


I said to him, “Since you’ve come all this way, would you like to play taiko?” and he had a go at playing both Yatai-bayashi and O-daiko!

Mr. Iura gave us a signed copy of his book, “Iura Arata no Bijutsu Tanken” (Arata Iura’s Fine Arts Exploration).



“Leading Up to the Asakusa Performances” by Tomohiro Mitome

June 1, 2014

This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo.

May on Sado Island brought us a mix of both hot, sweaty days and brisk, chilly days. I can now feel the gradual change from comfortable spring to the hot days of summer.

This month, I’m going to talk about our Asakusa performances.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Kodo held its first consecutive performances in Asakusa last year, and thanks to your support, this year we are heading back for a second year. When I think of Asakusa, the things that first come to mind are the festival “Sanja Matsuri,” which has been introduced on this blog, and a downtown area full of life all year round. Since the olden days, Asakusa has been home to rows of playhouses and movie theaters and one could say that Asakusa’s unique atmosphere comes from the Edo Period culture upheld in the area.


In Asakusa, there are many stores selling stage equipment and costumes, etc, and Kodo frequents the area for that reason. However, we also have a connection through Rokusuke Ei, who hails from Asakusa and was one of the key people involved in the founding of Kodo’s antecedent group, Sado no Kuni Ondekoza. In 1982, soon after Kodo began, we joined Rokusuke Ei on stage at Asakusa Public Hall for a performance called “‘Ei Rokusuke + Kodo’ Nagesen Kogyo” (lit. “‘Rokusuke Ei + Kodo’ Coin Toss Entertainment”). This was Mr. Ei’s venture, programme, and artistic direction, which had no set outline at all and featured the members of Kodo on stage playing taiko, dancing and singing on Mr. Ei’s command.

Time went by, then in 2013, Kodo performed at Asakusa Public Hall again for the first time in 30 years. “Kodo One Earth Tour: Legend” had toured for over a year and we received a great response to holding the domestic finale as four consecutive concerts in Asakusa.

Photo: Taro Nishita

June 2013 “Kodo One Earth Tour: Legend” Asakusa Performances


Asakusa is one of Japan’s iconic sightseeing areas that attracts tourists from around the world. It is centered around historic Senso-ji Temple, the shopping street leading up to the temple, and Kaminarimon Gate, but along with the opening of Tokyo Skytree, in recent years there has been noticeable expansion in new movements to develop the town. The area is also drawing attention as a new center for entertainment.


We hope you will join us in Asakusa to thoroughly enjoy the timeless charm of this area’s history and culture, to feel the flow of time from the past to the present, and to see “Kodo One Earth Tour 2014: Mystery” at Asakusa Public Hall. We are sure you will enjoy the different feel this area brings to our performances.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Asakusa is a place where an array of performing arts and performers are both born and cultivated. By holding a series of performances here each year, we hope that Kodo will receive guidance and encouragement from a wide range of people and their support for many years to come. We also sincerely hope that our performances in Asakusa will help in some way to maintain the prosperity of Asakusa’s culture.

We are looking forward to seeing you for Kodo in Asakusa.


Kodo One Earth Tour 2014: Mystery

Kodo DVD “Legend” to go on sale June 21, 2014

Kodo Blog | Asakusa Performances

“The Start of a New Year” by Tomohiro Mitome

May 1, 2014

This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who follows the Kodo website and Kodo Blog for your constant support of Kodo.

From now on, I am going to write a message at the beginning of each month to give you, our readers, an update from the Kodo ensemble. This month, I will talk about what I felt as we welcomed the new apprentices and junior members to the group recently.

Over the last few years, I have been energetically instructing our apprentices on Sado Island. On April 6th, I attended this year’s entrance ceremony at the Kodo Apprentice Centre.

Photo: Taro Nishita

The “Member Development Course” for people who want to become members of Kodo is a two-year course, with a diverse curriculum which includes performing arts, of course, and also studying agricultural work and etiquette, etc, which aims to develop well-rounded stage performers. When I was an apprentice, the apprentice program lasted one year and we did nothing but physical training and pounding in hours of taiko practise everyday… when I think about it, I feel like a long time has passed since then.

However, between then and now, the apprentices’ will to stand on the Kodo stage and to become Kodo members has not changed. When I see the sparkle in their eyes when we first meet at the entrance ceremony, every year it makes me remember my own initial resolve, and it always feels like the start of a new year.


Photo: Taro Nishita

Apparently, many apprentices say that their lifestyle became the complete opposite of their former one when they entered the Apprentice Programme. The second-year apprentices, who have already spent a full year at the Apprentice Centre, welcomed the new first-years by saying, “Welcome to an unreal world!” and that really made an impression on me.


When I was a new to Kodo, one of the tour managers told me that a Kodo performance has both reality and unreality, and that showing the audience the unreal is what leads to making them dream and moving them. At the Apprentice Centre, where there is a mixture of reality and unreality, I hope that the apprentices will learn many things and gain a lot of experience during their two years, which will make them develop as performers. I hope that one day they can appear on the Kodo stage.


And now, having just completed this two-year-long Apprentice Centre lifestyle, the five young, new junior members are now mixed in with their seniors and they are frantically doing their best to prepare to take the Kodo stage.

Once we are on stage, it doesn’t matter whether you are a veteran or a newcomer, because as performers we are equal. While they have less technique and experience, the newcomers are armed with their youth. They have their own new sensibilities, and as musicians and performers I want them to do their best to create unforgettable performances for their audiences.



“New Apprentices Start Their First Year at the Kodo Apprentice Centre” by Michiko Chida

The entrance ceremony for the Year 33 (2014-2015) class of Kodo Apprentices was held on April 6 and now one week has passed. They are probably so nervous about beginning this new lifestyle, but all of the 12 new apprentices have been doing well. I will introduce their week of firsts with some pictures.

Photo: Michiko Chida

Dance lesson with Chieko Kojima

Photo: Michiko ChidaPhoto: Michiko Chida

Ranjo-san’s shinobue (bamboo flute) making workshop

Photo: Michiko Chida

Taiko lesson with Tomohiro Mitome

(They do not use bachi (drumsticks) in their first lesson: they use Japanese fans and towels.)

Photo: Michiko Chida

Rice field work (Selecting rice seeds)

Photo: Michiko Chida

Standing by the rice fields and singing a song facing out to sea

Photo: Michiko Chida

Kiyoko Oi teaches all the new apprentices how to make chopsticks from one shared bamboo stick

“Kakinoura’s Festival” by Tomohiro Mitome

Photo: Tomohiro Mitome

On April 15, spring festivals were held all over Sado Island. The community of Kakinoura, where the Kodo Apprentice Centre is located, has taken the Kodo apprentices “under its wings” and teaches them how to dance the local demon dance every year.

If they reach the right standard, some apprentices may be allowed to wear the special costumes and perform as demons in the festival. This is such a special day.

Photo: Tomohiro Mitome

“Matsurine 2014” by Tomohiro Mitome

Photo: Taro NishitaPhoto: Taro Nishita Photo: Taro Nishita

The third annual “Matsurine” performance was a roaring success.

The title of the concert literally means “Festival Sound” and it was held at Tokyo’s Sogetsu Hall. The sound of taiko and the shouts from the audience turned the concert into a Japanese festival, as the name intended.

March 23 (Sun) Kodo Guest Appearance “Matsurine 2014”



“Rehearsals for Matsurine 2014” by Tomohiro Mitome

Photo: Erika Ueda


We had rehearsals for this month’s upcoming “Matsurine” concert. This is going to be our third time appearing with Miyakejima Geino Doshikai for their concert and when we join forces, it really takes our power to another level. We are really looking forward to joining them on stage!




Mar. 23 (Sun) Kodo Guest Appearance “Matsurine 2014”



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