“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


“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


Ten Fun Facts About Kodo “Evolution”

Exploring the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko, Kodo is forging new directions for a vibrant living art-form. In early 2018, we return to Europe with our latest production, “Evolution.” Here are some fun facts to read about this new production before you head to the theater.

1. Ayaori is played on newly-designed drums that produce a different key on either side.

Ayaori means “twill weave.” This composition is performed by three drummers playing katsugi okedo daiko (portable barrel drums). At first glance, these three drums look like regular barrel drums, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. This innovative taiko, Kanade, was developed by Kodo performer Masayuki Sakamoto in collaboration with renowned Japanese taiko maker, Asano Taiko. Recipient of the Japan Good Design Award in 2015, it’s the world’s first taiko that lets a performer tune the drumhead on either side to a different key. In Ayaori, the drummers use the two-tones of the drum and a range of different drumsticks to weave a multitude of tones into a musical tapestry.

2. The performers use handheld switches to control their overhead lights in Ake no Myojo.

Set in a realm of darkness, captivating Ake no Myojo is a dynamic yet haunting piece. Its name means “Venus in the morning sky.” Each performer appears wearing a light overhead that they control using a handheld switch to create two light patterns. This complex piece challenges the performers to drum, sing, and dance in rapidly-changing formations, all while carefully controlling their individual overhead light.

3. The climatic finale, Rasen, has a special significance to the production.

“Evolution” showcases Kodo’s classic and latest repertoire and its climax is the finale, Rasen, which means “spiral.” In fact, this production premiered in Japan as “Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral” to match the Japanese production name, “Rasen.” In the eponymous final number, the performers conjure a spiral as they perform in turn, creating a whirling vortex of energy that envelops the entire audience. Rasen also depicts a helix of sound and spirit that connects Kodo’s history to its present and continually drives the ensemble headstrong into the future. Refrains from long-upheld Kodo signature pieces emerge within the fervent torrent of beats as the next generation pays homage to the past while asserting their own dedication to the evolution of taiko performing arts.


Kodo Blog Archive