Apr. 1, 2015
Hello, everyone! I hope you are well.
This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo.
Now that it’s April on Sado Island, spring has arrived and buds are appearing on the branches of the cherry trees.
In Japan, both the new work year and school year start in April.
At Kodo, it’s the time of year when we welcome new apprentices. The Year 34 class are about to arrive at the Kodo Apprentice Centre to start their lives as apprentices. I am sure they will all head to Sado with high expectations, some apprehension, and huge dreams.
Our first tour this year, the “Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Mystery” North America Tour, concluded successfully thanks to all of your support. I would like to express our gratitude to all the staff members involved, the presenters, and everyone who attended our performances.
The Kodo members that remained in Japan spent March giving a variety of small-ensemble and solo performances in so many places. On March 15, we even had 4 different performances in 4 different places at the same time: Iizaka in Fukushima, Kurashiki in Okayama, as well as Seiro and Joetsu in Niigata. The performers and staff were hurtling around Japan at a great pace.
Also, we had Kodo Special Performance 2015 “Michi” at Kanagawa Arts Theatre (KAAT) in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, on March 19 & 20. Although these two performances were held on weekdays, we were greeted by full houses on both dates. I believe that the programme was nostalgic for long-time Kodo fans and supporters, yet would have felt brand new to audiences who started to attend Kodo performances in recent years.
By presenting an orthodox “Classic Kodo” programme with new members, I am confident that we were able to produce a whole new work, not just an “encore” performance. During our rehearsals, all the performers had the chance to see what makes us “Kodo,” or what Kodo holds dear, in a new light: how to perform, how to change sets (instruments and stands) between pieces, how to walk on stage, and so on. While recognizing all of this anew, the senior members were able to hand these core elements down to the younger, next-generation members. The newer members did their best to absorb the valuable knowledge and experience shared by the senior members, which they had accumulated over the years.
While maintaining our core, the foundations Kodo has forged over the past 34 years, it is vital for the current Kodo ensemble to gain new strength so we can survive in a new era. The new forms of expression we are exploring now are very important because they will help Kodo to evolve and continue its activities for many years to come. I think the fruits of this special performance, “Michi,” will also become apparent in the future. I hope that we can continue to provide opportunities for you to experience the core and roots of Kodo in various forms of expression.
In April, all the Kodo members return to Sado Island and gather for rehearsals. We will work hard together as we create brand new productions and prepare for “Amaterasu” and our upcoming tours. We look forward to sharing them with you on stage soon.
“Mystery” Performances in New York
We had our first appearance in New York for the first time in 4 years. This time, we had the privilege to perform at America’s longest running performing arts theater, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in Brooklyn, New York. It was our first time at BAM, but our three performances turned out to a great success!
Our last performance was sold out, with a line waiting for cancellation tickets outside the theater. It was wonderful to see so many people come out to see our production, “Mystery,” and the reactions from the audience were unforgettable. All three performances received a grand standing ovation, and the cheers and the applause felt like they were never-ending.
One of the performing arts capital of the world; New York. We’ll be back again soon!
（Photos: Julieta Cervantes）
Howard Gilman Opera House at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Articles about “Mystery” 2015
Huffington Post | Standing Ovation for ‘KODO’ at BAM
Green Global Travel | INTERVIEW: Kodo, Japan’s Legendary Taiko Drummers
“Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Mystery” North America Tour
[Purchase on CD]
Kodo Online Store | Mystery [CD]
[Purchase Download Version]
March 28, 2015
There is a cherry blossom festival underway at Sumida Park, near Kodo’s Tokyo Office. When you go there to see the blossoms, you also see a lot of bright pink paper lanterns.
This year, there is a lantern for “Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble, Kodo” hanging amongst the lanterns for all the shops in Asakusa. They always support us so warmly.
We hope you’ll keep an eye out for our lantern if you visit Asakusa to see the cherry blossoms!
Kodo “DADAN 2015” Performances
June 10 (Wed)–15 (Mon), 2015 Asakusa Public Hall, Taito Ward, Tokyo
Tickets are selling quickly! Don’t delay, reserve yours today!
Earth Celebration 2015 Shiroyama Concert Rehearsals
In February, we had rehearsals at Kodo Village with Leonard Eto for Earth Celebration 2015. He was a member of Kodo from 1984–1992, but this was his first visit to Kodo Village since he left our group. Leo and our senior members Yoshikazu, Eiichi, Chieko and Motofumi, who had shared the stage for countless performances in the past, made a really feel-good mood in the rehearsal space and we all enjoyed creating sound together. I am excited to join them with my fellow new generation Kodo members to see what kind of sound and music will emerge from our rehearsal sessions between now and August.
We rehearsed with Leo for three days and nights, which reminded me how truly fun it is to create sound. We are going to work hard to make this festival an exciting highlight of the summer of ’15 on Sado Island.
Kodo Website | EC 2015 Details http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150821ec_en.html
EC 2015 Official Website (English) http://www.kodo.or.jp/ec/index_en.html
EC 2015 Official Facebook Page (English) https://www.facebook.com/EarthCelebration
Yoshikazu Fujimoto is heading to New Zealand for the first time, where he will lead taiko and bamboo flute workshops.
If you live in NZ, or fancy a trip there, please sign up and take part!
Dates: June 5 (Fri)–7 (Sun), 2015
Venue: International Pacific College, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Instructor: Yoshikazu Fujimoto
For further details and to book, please contact the organizer directly:
Email: email@example.com (Saki Iwasawa)
Details also available on Facebook.
On March 1, the Kodo apprentices took part in a Noh recital in Hamochi on Sado Island. The Noh master who taught the Kodo apprentices until last year, Mr. Masao Matsunaga, stopped teaching because of his age, and a new master will come and teach our apprentices from later this year. So before this recital, some locals gave the apprentices three lessons and then they appeared on stage in their first Noh performance.
At the recital, they performed Shimai, one style of Noh where one person dances without a mask and the others sing along to accompany the dance. The title was “Momijigari”, which means “autumn-leaf viewing.” It was not easy to do the whole piece, but they did their best. Local students also joined in and the apprentices were very impressed by the Noh performances by high school students.
The locals say they look forward to the apprentices’ participation every year. They learned a lot about Noh, including dance and how to put on the various costumes, so they sang a song for them as a token of their gratitude .
In February, we held four of Yoko Fujimoto’s Song Workshops at Ogi Elementary School on Sado Island. It was a chilly time of year with light snowfall, but the children sang happily and had a great time together with Yoko.
Yoko has led these song workshops at this school every year for 16 years now. Even though the teachers have come and gone with transfers to other schools, this workshop been handed along like a relay baton. The first workshops were held here when my daughter was in the first grade, and although her homeroom teacher at that time was subsequently transferred away, she was transferred back here again some years later. That feels like fate to me.
Ogi Elementary School is going to move to a different school building (formerly Ogi Junior High School) in April, so this year’s workshops were the last ones here at these premises. This building has echoed with songs for years and years, but it will be demolished soon. On March 9, Yoko volunteered to give a concert entitled “Sado-kara Itadaita Uta Monogatari (Story of Songs from Sado Island)” for all the students, teachers and parents of Ogi Elementary School. She showed them her appreciation for being able to give enjoyable workshops at Ogi Elementary School for such a long time.
Feb. 24, 2015
Sado Island Taiko Centre On Location!
–Taiko Experience with Shinchan-sensei–
I was really lucky with the weather for my taiko workshops in Niigata. I went to many different places: a hotel, Niigata Prefectural Civic Center, several schools, and a nursery school.
Every time, I was at a different venue with a different number of participants of different ages…the situation changed every time. So I would meet each group, then on the spot I would think about what games to play with them. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but that pressure is always exciting for me. I made a taiko piece with each group and sometimes we even sang together as we drummed.
When I see everyone united and smiling, it makes me want to keep playing taiko, too! I will lead these workshops again next year, too, so I hope to see everyone again then!
Sado Island Taiko Centre (in Japanese) ENGLISH COMING SOON!
Appearance at Opening Event
for Joetsu Myoko Station on New Hokuriku Shinkansen Line
We were invited to perform at two opening events for Joetsu Myoko Station on New Hokuriku Shinkansen Line: a private celebration in Takada City on Mar. 14 and a public performance at Joetsu Myoko Station’s Kamakura Dome on Mar. 15.
At this brand new station, we were joined on stage by three brand new Kodo junior members! They must have felt the pressure of being assigned some of the main parts to perform, but I am sure that it was a memorable debut for them to perform for so many people.
In April, a new high-speed ferry called “Akane” will run between Naoetsu Port and Ogi Port on Sado. Access to southern Sado Island will become much easier and faster using the new bullet train line and fast car ferry. We hope you will come to see us for the “Kodo Special Performances on Sado Island” this spring, and “Earth Celebration” this summer.
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”
Thank you very much to everyone who joined us for “Michi” on Mar. 19 & 20 (Fri) at KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre in Yokohama. We welcomed full houses to both of the performances. Here are some of photographs from this special concert.
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”
Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa