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.


“Shishi Hair Whip” by Kengo Watanabe

When I joined Kodo, I never imagined I would be given the chance to wear kumadori stage makeup or perform the traditional hair whip (kefuri) shown in the photo above! When I appear on stage in the role of shishi (beast), I perform each and every hair whip with great care.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo Special Performance “Yugen” (Japan)

“We’re in Yamagata Prefecture!” by Kengo Watanabe

June 16, 2017

Hello, everyone! This is Kengo Watanabe. It has been a while since my last Kodo Blog post.

Yesterday we arrived in Sakata City in Yamagata Prefecture. I visited Sankyo Soko, a rice storehouse that was built in 1893. It is still used today.

I also saw these great Japanese zelkova (keyaki) trees all in a row.

Today we have our final performance of Kodo Premium Concert “An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo.” I look forward to seeing everyone at the theater!

Kodo Premium Concert “An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo”

Kodo Members Take on a Challenging New Role in “Yugen”

The climax of our new production with Tamasaburo Bando, “Yugen,” features five colorful beasts. Two Kodo members appear in this role alongside Tamasaburo Bando, Jusuke Hanayagi and a Hanayagi dancer. They are Kengo Watanabe and Kodai Yoshida.

The picture below is of Kodai Yoshida (Kodo), Jusuke Hanayagi (center), and Kengo Watanabe (Kodo), backstage at the Nagoya performances.

And here they are again, transformed into shishi (beasts).

They look forward to see you at the theater for “Yugen”!

Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo Special Performance “Yugen” (Japan)

Yugen Programmes Available at Performance Venues!


Kodo member Reo Kitabayashi would like to draw your attention to the “Yugen” programme, which is on sale in the lobby at every performance.

The 52-page, full-color programme includes a special interview with Tamasaburo Bando, candid conversations about “Yugen” with Kodo members, a synopsis of each iconic story portrayed in the production, rehearsal photos, an introduction to Noh theater, and much, much more!

Purchase yours before the performance to look behind the scenes and read all about this unique production! (Note: Japanese text only)

Yugen Programme
Color/ 52 pages / 2,000 yen (tax incl.)

Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo Special Performance “Yugen” (Japan)

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