“Kodo is Off to Egypt for the First Time!” by Kodai Yoshida

Feb. 2, 2018

Just when I thought the extreme cold wave had ended, I heard that much of Sado Island was now without water. It’s been chaotic here for many days. Amidst trying circumstances, we have been rehearsing at Kodo Village for our upcoming Egypt performances. It will be Kodo’s first time to perform there and when we arrive in Egypt, that will mark the 50th country Kodo where has performed to date.
Photo: Erika UedaDirector Tomohiro Mitome is leading the cast of nine for these performances. You wouldn’t think it was just nine people by the number of pieces and rich content. Tomohiro said to us, “It’s a tough program, but let’s enjoy ourselves.” And with that, our rehearsals began.

Photo: Erika Ueda

The cast features a lot of young performers, so while the rehearsals were very lively, they also made us reaffirm that we have our work cut out for us each time we appear on stage.

Photo: Erika Ueda

We had a tight rehearsal schedule with only one week to practice. The stage manager, Kazuki Imagai, who is a former Kodo performer, told us that, “Even if there is no time, you still have to do everything properly.” The senior Kodo members gave us strict, clear instructions and our rehearsals steadily progressed.

Photo: Erika Ueda

I have been practicing hard as I imagine the unknown land where I am heading. It’ll be everyone’s first time visiting Egypt. I wonder what awaits us over there…

Photo: Erika Ueda

Feb. 9 (Fri) & 11 (Sun), 2018 Kodo Select Ensemble Appearance in “Japanese Drums Concert” (Egypt)

“We’ve Arrived in Brighton!” by Eri Uchida

We have arrived in Brighton, UK, where we will give the first performance of “Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution”on our European tour.

Photo: Eri Uchida
Brighton is a port town in the south-east of the UK. It looks out to sea just like Sado Island, but unlike the fierce winter on Sado, this town has a calm shoreline thanks to the warm currents of the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo: Eri Uchida

The shops in Brighton aren’t large chain stores. The streets are filled with unique restaurants, variety stores, clothing shops, and antique dealers. I even saw a bonsai shop!

Photo: Eri UchidaThe shops have colorful pictures painted on their walls and the whole town has an artistic vibe. It was exciting just strolling around Brighton.

Photo: Eri UchidaAt night, the town is lit by warm street lamps, which are spaced out along the streets. The brick buildings make the town look so picturesque.

I saw a picture framer’s that had a sign reading:
“Let’s make this town full of artists.”
Perhaps it’s each person’s mindset that makes this town feel exciting to me.

Photo: Eri Uchida

I’ll looking forward to an exciting two-month tour!

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution” Europe Tour


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!


It’s the start of a brand new year: 2018. Kodo spent about half of 2017 touring in the USA and Japan with “DADAN” and throughout the year we presented “Interactive Performances” for school children and the public all over Japan. Last year, our varied lineup also included “Yugen,” our second major collaboration with Tamasaburo Bando, and special events on Sado Island such as “Earth Celebration” and “Kodo Sado Performances in Shukunegi.” Looking back, it was a whirlwind with so many different programmes, but it made for a very fulfilling year. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone for their support throughout 2017.
In autumn last year, I had the opportunity to talk with Ryutaro Kaneko, a former senior Kodo member who we regularly invite to teach at Kodo Apprentice Centre. He told me that, “In any village or community, the fourth generation will start to question its true worth.”
In my official greeting at the beginning of 2017, I talked about two Japanese words that sound the same but have different meanings: shinka (evolve) and shinka (deepen). With Ryutaro’s words in mind, I would like to add a third word to that list: shinka (true worth). Kodo is entering an important era, just like the one Ryutaro described, and recently I have noticed the great weight of this new era.
A group such as ours is based on the wealth of ideas and skills that the senior members share with every new member. That precious asset makes all of our activities possible. By upholding the teachings of those before us, and enjoying the present, we can then hand that asset down to the next generation. This year we will continue to push ourselves to discover more of the endless possibilities of taiko performing arts. In 2018, our wide-ranging activities start with an extensive tour in Europe with “Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution.” We will dedicate ourselves to our work throughout the year with three things in mind: evolve, deepen, and consider Kodo’s true worth.

I sincerely hope that this year will be another good year for all of you. I kindly ask for your steadfast support and guidance throughout 2018.

Yuichiro Funabashi
Kodo Ensemble Leader
Jan. 1, 2018

“Kodo Duo Masayuki & Yuta” by Yuta Sumiyoshi

Nov. 26, 2017

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The duo of senior performer Masayuki Sakamoto and new comer Yuta Sumiyoshi (that’s me) was first formed in 2012 for the piece Kusa-wake in the “Amaterasu” production. For the five years that followed, I think I have spent more time than anyone else watching Masayuki perform in pieces such as Kei Kei, Hekireki, Kaden, and Dan.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

I am grateful for the fact that I often was given the chance to perform right opposite Masayuki.

Photo: Mayumi Hirata

We played the piece Kusawake in Amaterasu, at Kanamaru-za, in “Mystery,” and “DADAN”.

That means we must have played that piece together in front of an audience over four hundred times to date.
Masayuki often said, “I wonder how many times we’ll play that together again…”
So when the day came when I said to myself, “There’s only two times to go!,” I felt a wave of emotion well up inside me.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
Soon after I joined Kodo, Masayuki returned from Kodo’s Europe tour in the springtime and I trained under his instruction for the first time.

I seem to recall we were working on the shime-jishi taiko part of the piece SHAKE

However, what we were focusing on wasn’t phrasing or strokes. It was the atmosphere you create before you drum.
If you know SHAKE, then you probably know what that means, because SHAKE begins with a lead-in by the shime-jishi drum. Masayuki taught me that before you play the first beat, you should feel as though you are gathering the eyes and ears of the hundreds of audience members to all focus on your two hands.

“When you want to diffuse or draw in energy, you express that by changing the angle of your chest!” 
Even now, I still recall his words when I take the stage.

Photo: Takashi OkamotoI open up my chest when I move forward, and I drop my chest when it’s my turn to perform the backing part. The accents of the sound, and expression using my chest, it’s really about the music and your body speaking the same language.

Masayuki and I often enjoyed drinks together. Whether we were in Japan or abroad, he often took me out for drinks. (Or maybe I was the one who said “Let’s go!” more often than not…)
The first time Masayuki came to the Kodo dormitory to drink with me, I was so happy to drink with him that I drank too much in the first half hour and collapsed, so poor Masayuki was left drinking alone.
When it was Masayuki’s 30th birthday, I planned a huge BBQ in the garden at Kodo Village for him.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
When we drink together, we talk a lot. It ranges from rambling about this and that to talking in depth about taiko. I got to know Masayuki’s character and nature, I learned about the mottos he holds dear, and we had a lot of silly fun together.

Our memories include the time we went to a yakiniku (BBQ) restaurant that wasn’t all-you-can-eat, and panicked in horror at the tremendous bill we racked up.
The time I went shopping with indecisive Masayuki to chose his new guitar.
The time we jumped in the sea, but the waves in the Sea of Japan were so powerful they threw us up onto the rocks.
We became hooked on having jam sessions with me on ukelele and Masayuki on guitar.
One time, we went for a run together before going out to drink German beer so the effects of the two activities would cancel each other out. This led us to come up with a saying that compares the quality of a “zero” from not doing something to the qualilty of the “zero” you get by canceling things out.
Each one of these memories were seeds we sowed that brought us closer together as colleagues and led to our perfectly matched sound on stage.

Masayuki is a guy who turns fake stoicism into his reality.
No matter how light his clothing and how cold he looks, he will say, “I’m not cold.”
No matter how tough the situation or how pale his face goes, he will say, “It’s a breeze.”
He is competitive about weird things, so even if he isn’t interested in something, if you cheer him on he will get in there and do it.

Photo: Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga
I sincerely respect Masayuki and I still look up to him.
He is a down-to-earth, friendly senior member who makes me always want to be at his side.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
Masayuki is going to graduate from the Kodo group, and that means that I am going to graduate from playing with Masayuki.
My goal all along has been to stand out more than Masayuki, and now I am going to graduate from spending my days standing alongside him on stage.
There’s only two performances left. Niigata and Sado.

The “DADAN 2017” tour will continue throughout December, but Mitsuru Ishizuka and I were double-cast for this tour and Mitsuru is taking over for the December performances. So I will only perform two more times with Masayuki before the changeover.

Whether I cry or smile about it, there’s just two times to go.

Please, come and see our Niigata performance!

Please, come and see our Sado performance!

“DADAN 2017” Japan Tour

*Please note that this blog was translated after the two performances listed above.

“On Tour with Fierce ‘DADAN’!” by Issei Kohira

On Tour with Fierce “DADAN”!

Hello, everyone! It’s Kodo Member Issei Kohira here. Thank you for your continued support.

Kodo’s “DADAN 2017” domestic tour kicked off at the beginning of October and we are receiving great reviews as we roar around Japan!

I was a cast member for the DADAN 2017 USA tour from February through March this year. We gave around 30 performances in the US and it was a very good experience for me. Now, I am back on the road with DADAN in Japan. On this tour, we will perform in my hometown area, Kansai. We have performances in Kyoto on Nov. 8 and Osaka on Nov. 11 & 12. If you live in the Kansai area, please come along to see us.

On the current tour, I have been cast to perform Tomoe, one of Kodo’s signature pieces. I am pouring everything into my performance as I follow in the footsteps of all the senior members who have performed it to date. I am giving it my absolute all on stage, but I know that I still have a long way to go.

The lads, I mean, the manly squad and I are drumming up a storm, so please come along to see us at a theater somewhere! We are waiting for you!
Come and hear the roar live!


“DADAN 2017” Japan Tour | Nov. 8 (Wed), 2017 Kyoto City

“DADAN 2017” Japan Tour | Nov. 11 (Sat)–12 (Sun), 2017 Osaka City

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