“Where Kodo’s Sound Begins” by Eri Uchida

We currently have seventeen Kodo apprentices after welcoming a group of new entrants to Kodo Apprentice Centre at the beginning of April. The first day of training for the new first years was making and shaping bachi (taiko drumsticks).

Photo: Eri Uchida

Under Tomohiro Mitome’s instruction, they learn why they make their own bachi, and the step-by-step process of bachi making, from how to choose the wood to whittling the wood into shape. The things they learn are packed with the wisdom that Mitome has gained from his own experience of trial and error making bachi to date with his own two hands.

“When you make bachi, you are crafting your sound”

The local carpenter who joined the lesson to teach them how to sharpen their planes said,
“If your equipment works well, you can do your job well.”

Those words are painfully true, I thought.

Photo: Eri Uchida

Bachi making is not a skill we can master in one day, no matter how clearly we are taught.

Life gets busier as the days go by at Kodo Apprentice Centre. I wonder how much time they can make for themselves to practice what they are being told and embody those lessons.

Photos: Eri UchidaThe roots. The fundamentals. The essence of things.
That is what we all learn at the Apprentice Centre.
It reminded me that I mustn’t forget these foundations, regardless of the experience I gain traveling the world and appearing on stage.

 

About the Kodo Apprentice Centre


“Once-in-a-Lifetime Smiles” by Hayato Otsuka

Mar. 23, 2018
Photo: Hayato Otsuka
Photo: Hayato Otsuka

We had a day off in Tallinn, the day before our performance there. It’s a lovely city with buildings dating back to the middle ages.

Photo: Ryoma Tsurumi

The town is adorned with elaborate details.
Even at the restaurants, their consideration showed through their attention to detail.

Photo: Ryoma Tsurumi

I felt fulfilled and full: my body, soul, and stomach!
Also, many people attended and enjoyed our performance.

Photo: Hayato Otsuka

After back-to-back performances in Switzerland and one performance in Estonia, today we are heading to Finland. Right now, I feel keenly aware that every trip is a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

Photo: Mio Takashiro

From the devoted agents who have presented Kodo for many years
to the many wonderful supporters who facilitate our performances.

The audiences who welcome us with passion and enthusiasm.
The atmosphere and history of each venue.
The unique characteristics and background of each country.
The taiko and us, the performers.

All these people and elements come together for each performance and meld together to create sound each night.

Photo: Hayato Otsuka

There is nothing I take for granted, not even breathing the air in a place I visit on tour.
Each time we are on stage, a glimmering chemical reaction is created that we can only encounter right there and then.
While I sometimes feel a sense of inevitability, every time I’m on stage it never fails to feel new and wondrous.

Photo: Mayumi Hirata

For that reason, I want to always reflect on the value of each moment.
I want to continue to sense all those moments

And among those moments are the occasions when everyone smiles.

They are all once-in-a-lifetime encounters.
I will always treasure these feelings and sensations.
Photo: Ryoma Tsurumi

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution” Europe Tour


“Our Berlin Performance on Feb. 26” by Maya Minowa

Photo: Maya Minowa

Berlin, Germany.
The very place where Kodo made its debut 37 years ago.

Photo: Maya Minowa

Photo: Maya Minowa
That’s why Berlin is a very special place for Kodo.
On our 2018 tour, we were invited to give a performance at Berliner Philharmonie.

Photo: Maya Minowa

This hall boasts some of the world’s best acoustics. Even the sound of Japanese drums (wadaiko) resonates well here, very clearly and true to life. Good sound reached us no matter where we sat in the hall.

Photo: Maya Minowa

37 years ago, when the members of Sado no Kuni Ondekoza shifted directions and became Kodo, I wonder how they felt when they played taiko when they debuted here in Berlin.
That time of change must have been a more distressing time for those members than I could ever imagine.

From those new beginnings, Kodo’s performances have continued to evolve for decades.

I want the spirit when we face the drums, our spirit of resonance with the drums, to never change. I want to continue sharing that sound with people all over the world.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution” Europe Tour


“Back in Magnificent Rome After Nine Years” by Eri Uchida

Mar. 10, 2018
Photo: Eri Uchida

As soon as I exited the train station, the sheer sight of this enormous structure made me tremble.
This is the Colosseum, which is estimated to hold some 70,000 spectators.

Photo: Eri Uchida
I wonder how on earth people made something like this by hand 2000 years ago, in a time without electricity or machinery. Visiting this structure, I couldn’t help but be amazed by human intelligence, strength, desire, and persistence.
Every detail was so elaborate and dynamic, from the entrance trapdoors that added interest to the spectacle, to the corridors devised throughout that let the spectators smoothly enter and exit.

Photo: Eri UchidaFights were held here, where people or animals battled to the death. I heard that people in those days were really enthusiastic about the fights, which made me wonder about people today. Are we fundamentally different from people back then? It’s a bit scary to think about that.

For me, it was my first visit to Rome since 2009 when I was on my first tour with Kodo, a summer European festival tour. Although I spent a week in Rome then, due to my terrible hay fever and all my first tour nerves, I only ventured out once for sightseeing to visit the Vatican City. Nevertheless, I have profound memories of that visit to Rome such as our rehearsals with A Filetta for EC 2010 and the performances of “Mono-Prism” with Santa Cecilia Symphony Orchestra.

Photo: Eri Uchida
I remembered that back in 2009 I thought this hall looked unbelievably gigantic. I recall feeling proud as I watched the Kodo members selected to play Mono-Prism, but at the same time I felt frightened about appearing on that stage myself.

Photo: Eri Uchida

This time, I sat in the empty audience seats while we were setting up and looked at the stage. It seemed much smaller than last time and that felt strange.

However, when our performance began, the full house was filled with energy and it absorbed our sound, so the furtherest seats felt very far away during the performance.

Photo: Eri UchidaIn this huge arena, every member of our cast did their very best. We received a standing ovation at the end of the performance, a sign that the audience was pleased by our efforts.
We had all spent our day off before the performance sightseeing all over Rome, and it was as if the inspiration of what we had seen turned into powerful energy on stage. I’m already looking forward to the day I can return to Rome and its colossal structures.
Next, we are off to Milan for two performances back to back!

 

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2018: Evolution” Europe Tour

 


“Seven Years on from the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake & Tsunami” by Yuichiro Funabashi

Today marks seven years since the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake & Tsunami.

I would like to offer my sincere sympathy once more to all the people who were affected by this disaster.

While this day will remind them of many things, I pray that they will also find peace.

It’s a quiet Sunday at the Kodo Village rehearsal hall.

I will take a moment of silence at 2:46pm to remember Tohoku.

Photo: Yuichiro Funabashi

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