Season’s Greetings from Kodo
Thank you very much for your continued support throughout 2014.
We wish you all a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year!
Our Year-End Holidays
The Kodo Office will be closed from Dec. 27 (Sat) until Jan. 8 (Thu), 2015.
The Kodo Online Store English website will be closed from Dec. 25 (Thu) until Jan. 9 (Fri), 2015 and orders cannot be placed at all during this period. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.
“Five Back-to-Back Performances in Tokyo” by Mariko Omi
Kodo One Earth Tour 2014: Eternity
From Dec. 19 through 23, we had five days of performances at Bunkyo Civic Hall in Tokyo. Many people came to see us perform each day.
For this production, “Eternity,” the artistic direction requires detailed movements and delicate sounds during quiet scenes. To improve the performance, everyday we reflected on the performance from the previous day, checked those movements, and talked about the tempo of certain pieces.
During consecutive performances at the same venue, we have more spare time than on a one-day-only performance. So, during this period new members can learn how the senior members use their time to warm up and get in the zone before each performance. They get given specific advice like, “Make your time to rest your ears.”
The audience reacted completely differently each day, even at the same venue, so we enjoyed their unique responses and were kept on our toes for all five days.
After that, we had our final performance for the tour in Niigata City, my hometown!
“Kodo One Earth Tour: Eternity”
“Backstage Tour” by Naomi Iseki
After the “Kodo One Earth Tour2014: Eternity” Tokyo performance on Dec. 22, we held a backstage tour for a special group of people who handle our ticket sales.
We don’t get to offer this kind of tour usually, but we were able to show this group around backstage with the support of our junior members.
Yosuke Oda appeared as a special guest! He played a hirado-odaiko drum with an array of different drumsticks. It was a very short time, but I think everyone enjoyed it.
Thank you to all of the participants for joining us! I would like to plan this kind of tour more often in future, so I hope you’ll have a chance to come along, too!
“My Directorial Debut: Kodo Workshop Performances” by Eri Uchida
Thank you very much to everyone who came to see our Workshop Performance in Kyoto on Dec. 7.
Dec. 7 (Sun), 2014 Kyoto Performing Arts Center Shunjuza, Kyoto City
It was my first time to direct a Kodo Workshop Performance, so I was really anxious. But the theater staff gave us such great support and we had a wonderful time working with them at Shunjuza. We had rehearsals right up until just before the performance, so it must have been physically and mentally challenging for the cast, but they all did wonderfully on stage!
While we were creating the stage lighting for this performance, I realized that even though I want to try all kinds of things as a director, the main things I want to show are people and sound.
On stage, all of us do our very best as we face the taiko drums, each other, and ourselves, head on.
I hope that this performance also creates a chance for the staff involved and the audience to discover or realize something within themselves.
As the director, I created the programme’s framework, but it is the cast and staff, and the audience, who actually breathe life in to it. I felt that physically as gratitude welled up from within me as the performance came to an end.
When I open up myself to see what others express from a neutral position, I see those expressions react with each other and create a chemical change, and the programme morphs into a world I couldn’t have imagined myself.
I still have a long way to go, but will continue to do my best. I hope you will cheer us on.
I will make the most of what I learned here today, and use it to fuel our School Workshop Performances nationwide!
*These photos from our rehearsals on Sado Island. (Photos: Takashi Okamoto)
▶Kodo School Workshop Performances
“Bi no Tane (Seed of Beauty) in Kyoto” by Yoshikazu Fujimoto
On December 12, I took part in the “5th Bi no Tane (Seed of Beauty) in Kyoto” event. International costume designer and artistic director Shingo Tokihiro and a wide range of artists from all over Japan gathered for this on-stage exchange under the theme, “Our Town, Our Land.” Thank you to everyone who came along!
The picture above was taken with taiko performers Mr. Kawarazaki and Mr. Pak and Mr. Tokihiro at our meeting and rehearsal on Nov. 11.
Dec. 12 (Fri), 2014 Kyoto Art Live Theater International (ALTI), Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City
Yoshikazu Fujimoto & Yoko Fujimoto Guest Appearance at “5th Bi no Tane (Seed of Beauty) in Kyoto”
“Things I Have Learned from Children” by Kenta Nakagome
Things I Have Learned from Children
A year has passed since I started touring as a member of the “School Workshop Performance” tour cast. When I was a school student myself, I wanted to skip class as much as possible and I wished it was Sunday or the summer holidays every day of the year. When I think about it, it’s pretty strange that I have started going to school again.
Our performances are held as a part of each school’s curriculum for performing arts appreciation.
During our performance, we want to share the true sound of taiko drums, teach the kids about taiko as a musical instrument, and tell them all kinds of things. We interact with the students using our taiko, all up-close & within arm’s reach. This is the purpose of our School tour.
For about a year, I have traveled around many schools, playing taiko and spending time with my fellow cast members. It seems to me that while we want to say and convey different things to the children, we somehow end up receiving a lot more from them than we give.
I think children are wonderful beings.
When I see other Kodo members communicate with children, they have an indescribably calm and warm look. We are there to give a performance, but we are unusually relaxed. It seems like I can see each member’s true self appear at these performances.
As Kodo members, we always perform with pride and to the best of our abilities. We aim to deliver good sound and a good performance. We all have the same strong attitude towards our performances. However, most of the children have never heard of Kodo and some have never heard the sound of taiko before.
Although I do not know what the children are actually thinking, I feel that they have an instinctive insight into the real nature of each performer without considering the name of “Kodo” or our various titles and positions, like “professional performer” or “musician.”
They also judge whether our taiko performance is good or bad, interesting or not interesting, purely by instinct.
For School Workshop Performances, we perform in school gymnasiums.
So, the audience gets to listen to our taiko at a closer range than in a concert hall. If the sound is too loud, some children block their ears, and if the music is too monotonous, they start chatting. If the performance is good, they concentrate on our music and I sometimes see some children enjoyably swaying their bodies to the rhythm. For me, seeing that instant reaction from the children is very interesting and it makes me feel an air of tension, in a good way. I feel that children help us improve our own sensibilities when it comes to conveying the sound of taiko to an audience.
I used to just play taiko powerfully, with all my might. However, when I play taiko in front of children, my sound automatically becomes softer at times and stronger when I feel it needs to be. I now think about what sound will best reach the audience at each different moment.
As a member of the Kodo ensemble, I have always had in mind that I need to play taiko in a certain way or I need to act in a certain way. However, through our School Workshop Performances, I feel like I am now facing taiko anew.
I have been given a great opportunity to reflect on the sound that I create.
The right sound to play at each and every moment during our performance comes to us from amongst the children and within us, as we share that same space in time.
Keeping all of this in mind, I now enjoy going to school.
“Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo ‘Amaterasu'” on WOWOW Live Channel
Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo “Amaterasu”
Dec. 27 Repeat Broadcast on WOWOW Live Channel
The “Amaterasu” performance at Minami-za in October 2013 will be shown again on WOWOW Live Channel in Japan. If you are in Japan, we hope you will tune in!
See here for details: http://www.wowow.co.jp/pg_info/detail/104464/index.php?m=01 (In Japanese)
“Amaterasu” will return for encore performances in 2015 at Osaka’s Shochiku-za Theatre!
For further information, please visit our website: http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150503amaterasu_en.html
WOWOW Live Channel
Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo “Amaterasu”
Dec. 27 (Sat) 15:00–
Living national treasure Tamasaburo Bando directed and performed with Kodo in this elaborate production based on Japanese mythology. This performance took place seven years after the debut “Amaterasu” performances in 2006. It was filmed for television live at Minami-za Kabuki Theater in Kyoto City, which is famous for its architectural style.
Director: Tamasaburo Bando
Appearing: Tamasaburo Bando, Kodo
Special Appearance: Harei Aine
Photos: Takashi Okamoto
“Lecture and Workshop in Fukuoka” by Mitsuru Ishizuka
Dec. 14 Folk Performing Arts Lecture and Workshop in Fukuoka
I visited Fukuoka last week on tour with “Kodo One Earth Tour: Eternity.” On Dec. 14, the day before our first performance at Hakataza Theater, I was invited as a guest speaker to give a “Folk Performing Arts Lecture” to high school students from around Fukuoka Prefecture. I gave a talk and led a workshop. To my surprise, about 160 students gathered for the event!
I heard that the teachers from the various high schools would like to start introducing local traditional performing arts to their school taiko clubs. So, at the beginning of the lecture, I talked a little bit about the reasons and intentions behind Kodo’s integration of traditional performing arts from all over Japan into our performances, and how we go about doing that. Then I led a workshop for them.
At the supervising teachers’ request, I did a workshop based on the theme of “Practise Methods that Don’t Require Taiko.” Apparently all of their schools have a lot more taiko club members than taiko drums (…can something be done about that?), so they gave me this unique theme to suit their particular situation.
I had never given a workshop based on a theme like this before, nor had I ever had so many participants in one workshop, so I really puzzled over what to do while I was preparing for this workshop. I decided to do rhythm training by clapping our hands and rhythm practice using kuchi shoga or vocalization of the rhythm. We did both of these activities rather thoroughly and the students concentrated hard until the very end and seemed to enjoy themselves, too.
I think it was a fruitful session, thanks to the encouraging support from my fellow Kodo members.
The lecture and workshop gave me a good opportunity to reflect on the basics, while the serious attitude, excited facial expressions, and laughter of the young participants’ gave us a lot of energy.
I really hope that they had a great time, too.
Thank you for such a fun time!
“’Tatakokan Matsuri’ – Oh What Fun!” by Masami Miyazaki
Sado Island Taiko Centre Festival “Tatakokan Matsuri” – Oh What Fun!
We held a festival called “Tatakokan Matsuri” at the Sado Island Taiko Centre on Dec. 14. We’d had blizzards leading up to that weekend, so we were wondering if we could finish clearing the snow away from the parking lots and if people could reach our Centre safely…. but in spite of all our worries, so many people came along on the day!
150 people gathered for the festival, including the stall holders and performers. They made the Centre so lively and warm.
[Workshop 1] Advent Calendar Workshop: Children and parents worked together happily making calendars. They were all looking forward to opening each box every day until Christmas!
[Workshop 2] Sagegami (New Year’s Decoration) Workshop: An instructor from Shukunegi area shows participants how to make Sagegami. Let’s see how well can they cut the paper out from the pattern…
Thank you very much to all of the performers, stall owners, staff, Kodo apprentices, and especially to all the festival-goers, who braved the snow to join us! Tatakokan Matsuri really brings people together, and we look forward to hosting another one someday soon!
▶Sado Island Taiko Centre (Tatakokan) Website (in Japanese)
▶Sado Island Taiko Centre (Tatakokan) Official Facebook (in Japanese)
“Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple” by Eri Uchida
Dec. 14 Performance at Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple
We performed at this year’s Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple in Komaki, Aichi. Unfortunately, there was bad weather on the day of the performance, but the venue was lively from early on in the morning with performances by a variety of groups and stalls selling tasty fare.
This is the second time for Kodo to perform at this event, following on from last year. Before the event started, the temple priests briefed us on the origins of the ritual. I felt so honored to be able to perform at their event, which has been held for centuries. I was determined to do my best.
As evening drew nearer, the temperature went down steadily. A bell was sounded at 5 o’clock and we started our performance right there in the bell tower. They kept ringing the bell during our performance. The sound of our taiko echoed out nicely far and wide– perhaps that is because the tower was built so that the sound of the bell could be heard at every corner of the village?
After that, we performed on the main stage right in front of the spot where the fire-walking ritual took place. It was colder than I had expected… so cold that any of our skin not covered by clothing hurt intensely. Surprisingly, that painful chill actually cheered us on.
For O-daiko, Kenta Nakagome was playing on the front of the big drum and it looked like his back was giving off steam. You could tell from Yuta Sumiyoshi’s drumming on the back and Tetsumi Hanaoka’s chappa (cymbal) playing that they were getting into the spirit of it, too.
We started to play Yatai-bayashi as the fire was set alight. I think our performance sounded a little bit different in front of the firey blaze and smoke.
However, no matter how much heart we put into the performance, it was freezing cold! I did not feel cold during our performances, but I seemed to be shivering so much, and that caused a lot of muscle pain deep inside my body which hit me the next day.
This ritual tells of the horror of all-consuming fire, but at the same time, I learned the horror of the opposite: coldness. The power of nature is beyond our own. This experience made me reflect on the way I spend my time in winter: I realize that if you stay wrapped up too warm in winter, you become a weaker human being!
The “School Workshop Performance Tour” members are all doing well!