鼓童ブログ Kodo Blog

“Rehearsals for –Deai– (Encounters)” by Mitsuru Ishizuka

Apr. 12, 2016

Kodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concert
–Deai– (Encounters)

Photo: Erika Ueda

We have begun rehearsals on Sado for our upcoming “Kodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts” that will take place at Suntory Hall in Tokyo this August.

Photo: Erika Ueda

Composer Toshiro Saruya (right) with Kodo’s Masayuki Sakamoto

Photo: Erika Ueda

Composer Sunao Isaji

These past few days we welcomed two composers, Mr. Toshiro Saruya & Mr. Sunao Isaji, and conductor Mr. Tatsuya Shimono to Kodo Village to rehearse for the first concert’s orchestra collaboration entitled –Deai– (Encounters).

Photo: Erika Ueda

When we rehearse for orchestra collaborations, we have to be more attentive than usual to our rhythm and tone, and follow the detailed sheet music with absolute accuracy, and keep an eye on the conductor… so we use a lot of different nerves that we don’t usually exercise on stage. We were all frantically trying to keep up the whole time.

Photo: Erika UedaPhoto: Erika Ueda

The composers and conductor taught us attentively, and with great detail, how to practice and express classical music, the way sound is created in these compositions, and more. Through their teaching I felt a renewed sense of wonder at the endless span, bottomless depths, and sheer enjoyment of the world of music.

Photo: Erika Ueda

It is now 40 years since the first ever performance of “Mono-Prism,” which Maki Ishii composed for especially for taiko and orchestra. This year, two new taiko and orchestra pieces have been created by two different composers and the world premiere of both works will take place at Suntory Hall this August. This is the one and only performance planned featuring these two new pieces!

Photo: Shingo Kawamura

After the “Deai” rehearsals, the Kodo members took a commemorative group photo with composers Toshiro Saruya & Sunao Isaji, conductor Tatsuya Shimono, electronic organ players Ms. Shimizu & Ms. Matsuda, and artistic director Tamasaburo Bando.



news20160818kodo35thKodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts

Aug. 18 (Thu), 19 (Fri), 20 (Sat), 2016 Suntory Hall, Tokyo

Aug. 18 (Thu) First Night ‒Deai‒ (Encounters)
Featuring: Kodo, New Japan Philharmonic / Conductor: Tatsuya Shimono
Aug. 19 (Fri) Second Night ‒Spiral‒
Director: Tamasaburo Bando / Featuring: Kodo
Aug. 20 (Sat) Third Night ‒Hisho‒ (Soaring)
Director: Tamasaburo Bando / Featuring: Kodo with guest artists Blue Tokyo & Dazzle

Ticket Outlets:

  • Ticket Space Tel. 03-3234-9999 (Mon–Sat 10:00–12:00, 13:00–18:00)
  • Suntory Hall Ticket Center Tel. 0570-55-0017
  • Ticket Pia Tel. 0570-02-9999 [P-code: 286-898] http://pia.jp/
  • e+ (e plus) http://eplus.jp/
  • Lawson Ticket Tel. 0570-000-407 (Operator 10:00–20:00) Tel. 0570-084-003 [L-code: 30118] http://l-tike.com/
  • Seven Ticket http://7ticket.jp/ Tickets available from multi-copy machines at Seven Eleven stores nationwide.
  • Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Ticket Service Tel. 03-5685-0650

Suntory Hall 30th Anniversary Commemorative Event Sponsors: Suntory Beer LimitedOnkyo & Pioneer Innovations CorporationPOLA INC.


“The Joyful Buds of Spring” by Yuichiro Funabashi

Apr. 4, 2016

The Joyful Buds of Spring

It has just been announced that Kodo Artistic Director Tamasaburo Bando has been awarded not only the Japan Art Academy Prize but also the Imperial Prize. We would like to express our sincere congratulations to Mr. Bando. All of Kodo is truly grateful for the extremely valuable time we continue to spend under his direction.

Photo: Taro Nishita

April on Sado Island is a season for festivals. Each village is practicing demon drumming (onidaiko) to prepare for their local festival, so we can hear the sound of taiko deep into the night all over the island. After a long winter, spring on Sado is colorful and beautiful. I hope you will come and see the great scenery and joyful buds and blooms for yourself during the upcoming “Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi” this Golden Week.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Kodo is spending this month and next focusing on rehearsals and creating new material for various programmes that we will present over the year ahead. We are working with our artistic director and a range of visiting guests on our 35th anniversary concerts as well as our next One Earth Tour productions, “Spiral” and “Yugen.” We look forward to sharing many new works with you, so I hope you will look forward to seeing them, too!

Photo: Yui KawamotoPhoto: Takuro SusakiPhoto: Cidade das Artes

Last month I went to Brazil with Kodo on our first tour there in eight years. Having just hosted the Soccer World Cup in 2014 and with the upcoming Olympics, I was expecting Brazil to be brimming with energy, but the economic situation in Brazil is not favorable and their political world seems to be in turmoil with problems relating to the president and so on. Despite the challenging economic and political climate, we were greeted with boundless energy from our audiences and we were given many opportunities for exchange with samba teams and Japanese Brazilian communities, which were such precious, rare, invigorating experiences.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Brazilians are cheerful and big-hearted and I will never forget spending time with them, feeling the passionate heat at traditional samba meets, and the moments when the Kodo performers became one with our audiences. Also, I clearly remember the inquisitive nature of people in Brazil, demonstrated through all the questions about Kodo and the roots and significance of taiko during our many interviews and discussions. Brazilians live in a nation with a long history of immigration and I felt their strong interest in other cultures. This experience gave me a new opportunity to reflect on my own roots as well as my future path.


Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Brazil is 12 hours behind Japan and while we were there it was 20 to 30 degrees hotter. Giving performances on the other side of the world, I felt a unique heat that radiated from the passionate, energetic people we met there. As we left Brazil, we vowed to return there again.


Yuichiro Funabashi
Ensemble Leader
Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble KODO


“Uchiko-za Theater Centennial Ceremony” by Yoshikazu Fujimoto

Uchiko-za Theater Centennial Ceremony

On Feb. 20, I attended the Uchiko-za Theater Centennial Ceremony in Ehime as Kodo’s representative.


A puppet dance by Awaji Ningyoza at the celebration

Kodo gave its first Uchiko-za performance in 1997, which was organized by a local committee that also provided home stays for our members. We have enjoyed a close relationship with our friends in Uchiko ever since. They have held seven Kodo performances to date.


Backstage with two members from puppet troupe Awaji Ningyo-za

The ceremony took place at Uchiko-za Theater in the afternoon and was followed by a reception at the Ikazaki Local Center. At the reception, I showed Kodo’s gratitude to Uchiko and the theater by playing taiko for them. I was happy to hear that our friends in Uchiko were pleased by my performance. I will continue to treasure our special connection with Uchiko and I sincerely wish the town all the best for the future.


At the ceremony with Uchiko Town Development Ambassador Keiko Takeshita (center) and Kenichi Tokuda of the Kodo Uchiko-za Performance Committee

“‘Mystery” Europe Tour Finale!” by Mio Teycheney-Takashiro

“Mystery” Europe Tour Finale!

On March 29 our “Mystery” Europe Tour, which began at the end of January, had its grand finale in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Photo: Mio Teycheney-Takashiro

The last performance was attended by around 3000 people, which was the largest audience on this tour. Thanks to their energy, our tour ended on such a high note.

2016-03-29 21.34.38
It was a wonderful atmosphere for the final performance for performers Mariko Omi and Tetsumi Hanaoka. I was so happy that their last time on the Kodo stage was so memorable.

Photo: Mio Teycheney-Takashiro

Thank you very much to everyone who came to see “Mystery” at theaters across the ten countries we visited over the past two months. We look forward to seeing you in Europe again in two years time!


The “Mystery” cast and crew safely arrived back in Japan on Mar. 31st



Mio Teycheney-Takashiro, Kodo International Tour Manager

Jan.–Mar. 2016 “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Mystery” Europe Tour

Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Russia



“Off to Our Final Destination: St. Petersburg” by Mariko Omi

Off to Our Final Destination: St. Petersburg

image1Photo: Mariko Omi

We gave a performance in Moscow on Mar. 27 and now we are heading to St. Petersburg for the final performance of “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Mystery.” Today we are traveling by train, which is very rare mode of transport for Kodo during a tour abroad!


St. Petersburg is a four-hour trip from Moscow and we are all more excited about the train journey than our usual travel days.

All aboard for our tour final destination and the last “Mystery” performance!

Photo: Mariko Omi


20150127oetJan.–Mar. 2016 “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Mystery” Europe Tour

Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Russia


March Message from Kodo Ensemble Leader Yuichiro Funabashi


2016-02-12 12.56.26image21-fkodo_160218258-96

Hello, everyone. This is Yuichiro Funabashi. I hope this message finds you all well.

Since late January, a young cast of 17 Kodo performers has been touring throughout Europe with “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Mystery.” The production gains shape and depth with each tour and there has been a great response in Europe to this performance.

Photo: Courtesy of Yufuin Genryu Daiko

Commemorative photo of Kodo with Yufuin Genryu Daiko on Jan. 29 at iichiko Grand Theater, iichiko Culture Center, Oita City.

I was here in Japan at the end of January and I took part in a collaboration in Kyushu with Yufuin Genryu Daiko called “Kodo × Genryu Daiko in Japan Taiko Premium Concert 2016 ‘Utsu.'” The members of Yufuin Genryu Daiko all have different jobs as their main occupation and they do their taiko training diligently around their work schedules. I learned so much from the sound they created and their passion. From the rehearsals right through to the after party, we had such an enjoyable, enriching time together. It was a wonderful concert which seamlessly featured professional and amateur taiko players together. Also, all four Kodo Distinguished members appeared in this performance, so it was a valuable experience for me to reaffirm their powerful presence and the importance of continuing to perform and hone your skills.

Then I went on a research trip to Hanoi in Vietnam for about a week in the middle of February. The population of rapidly-developing Vietnam is about to exceed 100 million people and I heard that the country’s current state resembles Japan’s rapid economic growth in the past. But with an average age of twenty-something, the most striking thing I noticed while I was in Vietnam was the people’s enthusiasm and youth.


On this trip we were searching for new ideas for our summer festival,”Earth Celebration” (EC), and we had so many wonderful encounters during our time in Vietnam. Their situation is complex due to the politics, economy, and history, and I’m sure many people have difficulties that we couldn’t see just by looking. But their pride and love for their performing arts was obvious. I was so deeply impressed by the musicians we met and the resolute way they live their lives. Before this trip I had never had the opportunity to encounter Vietnamese music and while it was a short stay, I was captivated by the diverse music and sounds of Vietnam, as well as the warm people we met there.

This summer, we hope to share some of this music with you at EC. We have almost decided on the guest artists to invite to Japan and the program that we will share with everyone at the festival. Kodo will share updates with you as they become available. I sincerely hope you will all join us so we can create a new-look EC together. Last year we welcomed Suar Agung from Indonesia to EC, and this year we look forward to hosting guests from another country in Asia. I am sure it will be a fruitful experience for all of us.


▲Unpacking & setting up at a theater in Brazil


This month, I went to Brazil with the “DADAN 2016” tour. I constantly feel grateful for the wonderful encounters I have in Japan and around the world through my activities with Kodo.
This month marked five years since the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake. While it may not be much, I do believe that as performers, as taiko players, we should all think carefully about what we can do to help, and put our hearts into it, as we continue our performances throughout Japan and worldwide.


“Theaters Around the World” by Mariko Omi

Theaters Around the World

We are now in the final week of our two-month “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Mystery” tour throughout Europe. During this tour we have had further opportunities to perform at so many wonderful, unique theaters.

A theater is a social place where people come together for events in a town. So through the theater you can often feel the history and the identity of a place.

I would like to share some of the theaters we have encountered on our 2016 Europe tour with you all.

Photo: Mariko Omi

Corn Exchange in Cambridge, England, is a theater housed inside a brick storehouse. As the name suggests, this building used to be a corn (or grain) exchange. Cambridge is a city with many students and this theater employs a lot of young staff members. By all the event posters in the lobby, I could tell that this theater is very active indeed.

Photo: Mariko Omi

In the music capital, Vienna, we performed at Wiener Konzerthaus, which is over one hundred years old. The white and gold decor was so refined and beautiful and the ceiling was adorned with a gorgeous chandelier. This theater perfectly fit the brilliant atmosphere of the city.

Photo: Mariko Omi

This is the KKL Lucerne in Switzerland, where the sound shell and curtains were electronically adjustable to perfect the acoustics. I was impressed by the neatly organized rows of seats on five levels and the really high ceiling. 

Photo: Mariko Omi

Also, the lobby was a special attraction at this theater. You could feel the hall’s love for the beautiful historic cityscape by the window that framed the view in the lobby like a work of art on the wall. Through other windows, you could see the mountains of Switzerland as though they had been cut out and framed on the walls, too.

Photo: Mariko Omi

This is Berliner Phiharmonie, home to the Berlin Philharmonic. The building is pentagonal and the stage is surrounded 360 degrees by seating. Apparently this layout is known as “vineyard terraces.” On this tour, this was the first venue we performed at that had audience members sitting behind the stage. When I think of this hall, I clearly remember the hall staff who were so efficient at helping us to load in and out.


Kodo members always remember Philharmonie im Gasteig in Munich, Germany, as being famous for its asymmetrical stage. When you think you are standing to face straight ahead, you aren’t actually facing the front. So this hall conjures some fear amongst the cast of not knowing where to position yourself or look when you are on stage.

Photo: Mariko Omi

Last but not least, here is the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, Denmark. The seats are covered in leather and you can see differences in color between each seat as they have individually aged over the years. Denmark is renowned for design and with its lily-of-the-valley-shaped lamps, beautiful curved hand rails, and wooden mosaic floors, I could feel the Danish simplicity coupled with attention to detail in the features of this theater.

Everyday we perform “Mystery” in a different theater and welcome a new audience, so the production changes as it adpapts to each venue and day. In halls where the sounds of an orchestra usually resonate, or on stages where people usually play guitars, we appear beating taiko, dancing, and accompanied by large serpents, too. Perhaps our instruments and dances create a sort of “chemical reaction” as we stir the theater in ways that differ from its usual performances.

When it comes to the sound at each venue, well, if we say “the sound is good here,” sometimes it makes me wonder how each person judges or senses that the acoustics are good. This vast range of theaters makes me all the more interested in the acoustic design behind each hall and each designer who came up with the shape of each theater to create a place to enjoy the sound and sights of its performances.

As our tour progresses, I am continually grateful to encounter all of these wonderful theaters along the way.


20150127oetJan.–Mar. 2016 “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Mystery” Europe Tour

Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Russia




Greetings from New Kodo Ensemble Leader Yuichiro Funabashi

It is now 2016, a milestone year for Kodo in which we celebrate our group’s 35th anniversary.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto


This past year flew by, and when I look back I remember an array of powerful performances: “Mystery,” “Michi,” “Eternity,” “Amaterasu,” “DADAN,” and “Chaos.” I also think of the “School Workshop Performances” and “Special Performances on Sado Island,” as well as various collaborative efforts such as “Earth Celebration,” “Mono-Prism,” the ballet “Kaguyahime,” and our performances on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

In “Chaos,” the fourth production by Artistic Director Tamasaburo Bando, we were challenged to explore new forms of expression such as incorporating three drum kits into our performance. By learning and experimenting, we felt the inevitable need to understand ourselves on a deeper level. Through this production, we were able to gain a true sense of just how far Kodo’s stage expression has evolved.

During our rehearsals for “Chaos,” Tamasaburo told us: “I always give my all in every moment. I concentrate on right now, and I still do. By always giving my all ‘right now,’ time has flown, and here I am today.” Hearing a man like him say this — a man who has spent over half a century in the performing arts — made me realize once again that Kodo must practice complete devotion to each and every moment. The sound of our taiko must resonate even further as we face the future — fifty years from now, one hundred years from now, or beyond.

This year we have a wide range of performances planned, including both new works and encore tours. We will seek new challenges through endeavors such as the Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi, three unique nights at Suntory Hall, “Spirited Summer” at Asakusa Public Hall, the “Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral” performances, and a new look for Sado’s outdoor festival “Earth Celebration.”

As we reflect on Kodo’s mission statement and history, I hope that by experiencing our performances and feeling our sound, you will join us in the “now.” I look forward to that moment, and kindly ask for your continued support and encouragement.

Yuichiro Funabashi
Ensemble Leader
Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble “Kodo”


“On Tour with ‘DADAN’ in Brazil” by Maya Minowa

On Tour with ‘DADAN’ in Brazil

Kodo is back in Brazil for the first time in eight years. The opening night of the “DADAN 2016” tour was held at Teatro Alfa in Sao Paulo.


Eight years ago I saw Kodo here and it was that performance that led me to join Kodo. It was at this very theater and on the same stage. When the “DADAN” performance began, I slipped back in time to eight years ago and I couldn’t take my eyes off the stage.


The reaction of the Brazilian audience was just like last time. Kodo received a full standing ovation and everyone was so excited.

Photo: Takuro SusakiPhoto: Takuro Susaki

Before the opening night of “DADAN,” we gave a smaller-scale performance in Rio de Janeiro with a cast of five, including myself. We presented a programme that shared Kodo with the audience in a clear way by featuring introductions about Kodo and the Kodo Apprentice Centre, as well as some information about traditional Japanese culture.

Photo: Takuro SusakiPhoto: Takuro Susaki

I took on the challenge of speaking Portugese as the MC! The whole cast did their best to introduce themselves in Portugese, too, which I think brought us much closer to the audience. The one hour performance flew by!

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Taiko is really popular in Sao Paulo and I led a workshop there for experienced taiko players. The participants had such a pure, eager look in their eyes. I was reminded of the passion that people in Brazil have for taiko, all the way over here on the other side of the world from Japan. What I was able to share with them was the importance of the sound of every single beat and how fun it is to create a groove with others. It was a very bountiful four-hour workshop.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Surrounded by the sound of Brazilian taiko for the first time in eight years, I could feel our “common language,” beyond any language barrier, and the unique timing we share when we reunite and play taiko as a team, as one. I recalled my original intentions and felt the significance of continuing on my path with taiko.

When I was in my second year as a Kodo apprentice, Yoohey Kaito from Sao Paulo was a first year in the Apprentice Programme. Yoohey is helping Kodo as an interpreter on the 2016 tour and he is such a huge help with so many other things related to our performances in Brazil this year, too.

Now we are off to Rio de Janeiro for “DADAN” performances there. The “DADAN” team will do their best to leave the sound of Kodo resonating here in Brazil, on the other side of the world from Japan.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto



March 2016
Kodo “DADAN 2016” Brazil Tour

“A Birthday Celebration at Berliner Philharmonie” by Akiko Umegaki

A Birthday Celebration at Berliner Philharmonie

On March 15, we gave a performance at Berliner Philharmonie in Germany, which is home to one of Europe’s leading orchestras, Berlin Philharmonic.
The theater is pentagonal and the concert hall is a sphere-like realm where the stage and audience areas feel connected. The stage is surrounded 360 degrees by seating so people watched our performance from unique angles that are rarely possible at other halls.


March 15 is cast member Eri Uchida’s birthday, so we celebrated her special day before the performance!

Photo: Akiko UmegakiPhoto: Akiko Umegaki

Lovely Eri continues to develop as a performer all the time, so be sure to keep an eye on her!



Akiko Umegaki, Kodo “Mystery” Tour Manager

Jan.–Mar. 2016 “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Mystery” Europe Tour

Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Russia



Monthly Archives