Kodo has reached the 35th year since it was founded. In 2000, invited by Mr Aoki to do a joint performance with Kodo, I crossed over to Sado, encountered Kodo, and here we are today. In the world of performing arts, it’s quite rare for a drum group to continue for thirty-five years. I’ve been asked many times over the years, even by professionals in the field, “Why did you choose Kodo?” Thinking about it now, it was significant for me to be able to work with a performance group that practices to the fullest. And, having come into contact with nature in Sado, as the pendulum swung back and forth between there and Kabuki in theaters in big cities, I gained a wonderful time and place to look again at myself.
I think in our times it has become very difficult to create works of art. For me, in many ways these last fifteen years have been a time of dimming hopes and dreams. In that context, I was able to meet a group of young people who are devoted to their practice, who face the drums and create things, at a far remove from our digitally developing society. I feel I was very fortunate to have come across such a group who are able to travel Japan and the world with pieces that they’ve created in their own practice space. While of course taiko drum performance is the keynote, I’ve come to realize that “Taiko pieces,” “Percussion pieces,” “Musical development,” “Staging,” “Art,” and “Entertainment” are all slightly different things, and when they magnificently come together, that’s an “Artistic Creation.”
Since the 1970s we’ve seen the birth of many taiko performing groups. As it is for art in any era, they’ve gone through phases of transmission and development, in the midst of approval and disapproval. How can we advance into the future, with older performers who have experienced earlier periods finding ways, both broad and deep, to pass that on to their juniors? And how will Kodo develop in the future as an artistic field? These things are what I’m in the process of thinking about.
A live performance cannot escape time. Its fate is set, so that the instant the curtain rises, it meets the audience, and when the curtain closes it take must its leave of them. Its expression should not be just “it remains as if it were real.” While existing in a precious moment, it must please the hearts of the audience, bring them solace, conjure up the past, and bring hopes for the future –– and if it does that there is no greater happiness. While dreaming of our wonderful earth, the wide cosmos, and richly fulfilled Japanese arts, I want to continue to strive and do my best.