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“Rehearsals” by Kenta Nakagome

Aug. 5, 2016

Greetings from Summer on Sado Island

 Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We are currently right in the thick of our rehearsals on Sado Island for our upcoming “Kodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts.”

We are going to make this summer a really lively one! We hope you will come and join us.

 Photo: Takashi Okamoto


Illustrations: Kenta Nakagome


news20160818kodo35thKodo 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts

The next generation of Kodo will take a bold step forward into new frontiers with three mid-summer night concerts in Tokyo. 
*Tickets on sale now for Aug. 18 & 19.
*Aug. 20 performance is SOLD OUT
*Commemorative Concert Sponsors: Suntory Beer Limited, Onkyo & Pioneer Innovations Corporation, POLA INC.

For ticket orders in English, call Ticket Space Tel. 03-3234-9999 (Mon–Sat 10:00–12:00, 13:00–18:00)
Aug. 18 (Thu) First Night ‒Deai‒ (Encounters)
Featuring: Kodo, New Japan Philharmonic
Conductor: Tatsuya Shimono
Aug. 19 (Fri) Second Night ‒Spiral‒ <<S-seats sold out>>
Director: Tamasaburo Bando
Featuring: Kodo
Aug. 20 (Sat) Third Night ‒Hisho‒ (Soaring) <<SOLD OUT>>
Director: Tamasaburo Bando
Featuring: Kodo with guest artists Blue Tokyo & Dazzle
Preview on YouTube https://youtu.be/i091hksFsbs


PastedGraphic-3 PastedGraphic-2PastedGraphic-2 ec2016-220new

Earth Celebration 2016

Aug. 26 (Fri)–28 (Sun), 2016

Sado Island, Niigata



“Moved to the Core” by Kosuke Urushikubo

Moved to the Core

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Hello, everyone. How are you?
It has become really hot in Japan recently and the cicadas have already started chirping. I was on tour for the past couple of months with the School Workshop & Interactive Performances. We have completed our Spring–Summer 2016 tour and returned to Sado Island last week. I will be leaving Kodo soon, so my final performances will be the 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts in Tokyo and at Earth Celebration on Sado this August.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto

During my final tour, we mainly performed for school children in Kumamoto, Iwate, Niigata, and Hyogo Prefectures. We encountered a wide range of students on tour. Some of the pupils had never heard taiko before, some of them play taiko regularly, and some of them told us that our performance had made them want to start playing taiko.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

In a world that is becoming more and more modern, I would like for children to not be only interested in the latest or most convenient things. I want them to know about classic or traditional things and then, based upon that knowledge, I want them to consider various new things. This is what I had in mind when I performed at schools on this tour.


When our performances would end, one student would share their impressions with us on behalf of the student body. I was really happy to hear some of them say things like, “It was my first time hearing taiko and it was interesting,” or “I want to explore Japanese music as well from now on.” At times, I felt my tears join the sweat on my face as they spoke to us.

I mentioned that our performances were mainly in four different prefectures on this tour. And they all have something in common: earthquakes. These four areas have experienced particularly large earthquakes. I heard locals talking about their experiences during and after the earthquakes and it was all unbelievable and unimaginable for me. Some taiko groups lost their practice space and instruments due to the damage from these earthquakes. My heart ached to hear about it all.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto

However, the people we met in these places had not lost their smiles. Some of them said to us, “The gods are telling us we can recover from this.” We had a chance to perform for people who were greatly affected by these devastating earthquakes and after our performances some of them said things to us like, “You’ve given me power to face tomorrow,” and “I feel confident again.” Personally, I was so happy to have so many wonderful encounters on my final School Workshop & Interactive Performance tour. I was happy to hear that I was able to help people in even a small way.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto
I sincerely hope they will recover from those disasters really soon. I hope our Interactive Performance tour will always continue, too.
Thank you very much to everyone who looked after us throughout our tour.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto


“Minakuchi Bayashi Lecture & Demo at EC” by Eri Uchida

Earth Celebration 2016
Minakuchi Bayashi Lecture & Demo

This year we will present a Minakuchi Bayashi lecture & demonstration at Earth Celebration! If you’re making the trip all the way to Sado this summer, I hope you’ll join us to take a step even deeper into the world of Japanese performing arts through learning about Minakuchi Bayashi, one of Shiga Prefecture’s intangible folk cultural assets. Come along to hear all about this folk art and watch a demonstration of Minakuchi Bayashi, featuring a few Kodo members, too! Then some attendees will have a chance to play Minakuchi Bayashi with us. This event will be conducted in Japanese, and English support will be provided as required.


The Kodo members who will take part in this event are busy practicing Minakuchi Bayashi in preparation for the demo and Fringe performances. We look forward to seeing you all at Marine Plaza on the second day of EC (Saturday Aug. 27) to enjoy Minakuchi Bayashi.

(PS: It’s air-conditioned so it will be cool and fun!)



Earth Celebration 2016 (Sado Island, Niigata, Japan)
Aug. 27 (Sat) 14:00–15:30 Minakuchi Bayashi Lecture & Demo at Marine Plaza Ogi (2F)

Facilitator: Eri Uchida (Kodo)

Inquiries: Kodo Ticket Service

  • Tel. 0259-86-2330(Mon–Fri 9:30–17:00)Fax. 0259-86-3631 
  • Email: ticket@kodo.or.jp

Event Details: http://www.kodo.or.jp/ec/en/event/lecture/mizuguchi/

“Pounding Furiously” by Yuta Sumiyoshi

Pounding Furiously

Only three weeks remain on our current “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Chaos” Japan Tour. This production is a rather experimental performance and I have heard a range of feedback, both positive and negative. So, while it is towards the end of the tour, I thought I would take the time to talk about my feelings towards “Chaos” and share them with you all.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

I play the drums, a Western drum kit, in this performance. Do you think I wanted to play the drums?

Well, honestly, I was really reluctant about it! (lol)

I am not sure whether reluctant is the right choice of word, but anyway, from the beginning I had this constant feeling of “We are taiko players, so why are we playing the drums?” That feeling got in my way and it stopped me from getting into our drum rehearsals properly. I was wondering if I should be playing the drums at all and I had a kind of restlessness that wouldn’t go away.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We learned to play the drums little by little, starting our practice about three years before the premiere of “Chaos.” But it took ages for me to be able to feel like, “OK! Let’s do this!” and to really put my all into it.

The biggest change in how I felt came one day during our drum practise. I think it was about six months before “Chaos” premiered. Yosuke Oda, Masayuki Sakamoto and I were side by side pounding the drums furiously. Drummer Tetsuya Kajiwara was yelling out the count for us, “One! Two! Three! Four!,” and we just kept on beating the drums with all our might. The sweat poured off us. We lost ourselves in the drums, just pummelling them relentlessly.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Then, that night after the practice, I noticed for the first time that the air in the rehearsal hall felt the same as when we have been practicing Yatai-bayashi non-stop, which is a traditional Japanese festival taiko piece as well as an iconic Kodo stage piece. It’s also the first thing that all Kodo apprentices learn to play during their training.

After we play Yatai-bayashi non-stop, a faint ringing lingers in our ears and a slight heat and smell of sweat lingers in the air.
When I noticed that sense, I thought: “It’s the same…”

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The act of pounding something furiously. Perhaps it is the hunting instinct that lies deep within all human beings. When we face the taiko drum, that overwhelming primal urge to pound it arises from deep inside. It’s not an emotion like anger, it’s an instinct. It’s like a roar within you.

The feeling of your soul stirring and trembling.

At last, I felt that sense, that roar, when I was playing the drums. That roar that emerges when I play taiko.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
There are different cultures such as Western, Eastern, and Japanese, but this sense goes beyond any of those definitions, or rather, it comes from somewhere deep within all of them.

I am Japanese, I am a taiko player, but this sense is deeper than that. It is part of my identity as a human being.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Well, I’m not really sure which words I should use to express what I’m feeling, but I can say that I felt this sensation intuitively.

So, getting back to the topic, some people see “Chaos” and say, “Why don’t you just play taiko?” Actually, I have always played taiko thinking that it was the right instrument for me.

I think everyone has a set idea about what taiko is, or should be. Not only taiko players, but also our audiences have a set idea about what they expect when they hear the word “taiko.” Taiko is an instrument created by using the trunk of a tree that is centuries old and covering it with animal hides. So it has a lot of life force and history within it. Whether it is on the surface or otherwise, as I said, the person who beats it will feel their soul stir. But I think most people take that for granted and don’t really give it a second thought most of the time.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

So for us, beating an instrument for this performance that is not a Japanese taiko drum has led to many new realizations… and questions like these:

If we pound drums with plastic heads… can we convey the same soul stirring roar? Can we move people with our drumming, without the power of our taiko drums?

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
I think it would be great if we could do the same thing a puppeteer does on stage.
You may look at a puppeteer and think: Why do you use a puppet? You are a human, and humans can express many different emotions and move so fluidly. So you could express yourself better without the puppet.
But by expressing yourself through a puppet, something that is lifeless and inorganic, you are pushed to tap into the essence of your expression to make the puppet come to life so you can convey your intentions to the audience.

So I hope we can do the same thing using drums instead of taiko for this performance. By pounding the drums instead of taiko, I hope that we can tap into the soul and “roar” behind our drumming. I hope that it will become even more apparent to our audiences.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
Of course, it’s not all about pummeling the drums like a maniac. By learning to play the drums and practicing hard, I have learned many new things related to music and technique that I would not have felt or discovered if I had continued to only play taiko.


When I perform on stage in “Chaos,” I try to put all these feelings, and everything I have learned through this production, into each performance.

We still have a few performances left on this tour and I really hope you will come along to see this production live on stage. I hope we can stir something deep within our audiences with our drumming, regardless of the instrument.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto



“Collaborations on Sado with ‘Tomoro'” by Chieko Kojima

Hello, everyone! How are you?

This year it is Kodo’s 35th anniversary. Over the years our company has broadened its activities to encompass a wide range of performances. Since the days of Sado no Kuni Ondekoza, I have been a dancer surrounded by taiko players. I think I was able to maintain this position within the group thanks to the feel-good surroundings here on Sado Island. Nothing compares to the pleasure I get from performing on Sado Island.
I have some news. Former Kodo member Tetsuro Naito, who composed iconic Kodo pieces such as “Shake,” “Nanafushi” and “Itsuka Mata” (until next time) while he was with our group, and former Kodo apprentice Tomoko Takeda, who plays bamboo flutes, now perform as a duo called “Tomoro.”
This weekend, they will return to Sado Island for performances from July 2 through 6. While Tetsuro was a member of Kodo, he captivated audiences with his unique world of sound and these performances also promise to be unique and dramatic.

One of the concerts has been organized by the people of Kita-Taura, the village where the Kodo Apprentice Centre was located back when Tetsuro was an apprentice.


Another performance will be held at a Japanese inn in Sawata called Urashima. It will be a dinner performance with a creative Sado-themed menu.
Then there will be two performances at Hiyoriyama, a cafe in Ogi that many people visited last year during EC for the Kiyohime photo exhibition. So we have a mini tour on Sado Island from North to South. I say “we” because I am going to join them and I will collaborate with them at every concert!





I am so excited to encounter the sound of Tomoro here on Sado again. After the performances on Sado, we will head to Joetsu for a Yukiai concert. We look forward to seeing you soon at these four special locations.


“‘An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo’ Sado Performance” by Koharu Ido

“An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo” Sado Performance

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

On May 19, we held the opening night of Kodo Premium Concert “An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo” at Amusement Sado.

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto
This is the first time we have given a performance with a commentary by our artistic director, Tamasaburo Bando. He talked about an array of episodes since his first encounter with Kodo, so it was a very interesting new programme.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
I learned a lot by being involved with this dynamic Kodo performance, which depicts the ensemble’s spiral of evolution from the past into the future.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Our performance on Sado had a unique programme* that also featured some pieces from our next new production, “Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral.” We hope you’ll join us this fall to see “Spiral” on its first tour throughout Japan.


*Premium Concert programme will differ in Tokyo, Kyoto, Kagawa, & Kumamoto.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We look forward to seeing you all at a theater somewhere soon!

Photos: Takashi Okamoto

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Spiral” Japan Tour

[Kodo 35th Anniversary Special Event] Kodo Premium Concert
–An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo–


“Thank You for Coming to Our Performances in Tokyo” by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

Thank You for Joining Us at Tokyo University of the Arts for
Kodo Premium Concert

–An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo–

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

Numerous artists at the forefront of the performing arts scene in Japan and around the world are Tokyo University of the Arts alumni. At the end of May, we gave three performances at the University’s concert hall, which received an enthusiastic response thanks to the presenter and each audience.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
This performance is accompanied by a commentary in Japanese* by our artistic director, Tamasaburo Bando. He speaks of his relationship with Kodo over the past 16 years and thoughts behind his direction.
Tamasaburo’s commentary is filled with surprising stories and jokes, so we are entertained on stage by his words from start to finish.

*Note: His commentary is in Japanese only, so if you don’t understand Japanese, please let our drumming do all the talking.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

I hope everyone who attends this performance will enjoy the programme as much as we do!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
We are now in Kyoto performing at Kyoto Theater, which is located inside the Kyoto Station building. We look forward to seeing everyone there!

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

Photos: Takashi Okamoto



Kodo Premium Concert

–An Invitation from Tamasaburo Bando into the World of Kodo–

June 1 (Wed)–3 (Fri), 2016 Kyoto Theater, Kyoto City

June 1 (Wed) 11:00, 16:00 (2 performances)
June 2 (Thu) 11:00, 16:00 (2 performances)
June 3 (Fri) 11:00

Note: Commentary will be in Japanese only.



“‘Talk Saito’ Returns” by Eiichi Saito

“Talk Saito” Returns June 17–19

Hello everyone! How are you?
It’s been hot for a while now in Japan, so I’m sorry to add to the heat with some piping-hot exciting news…

This month I will join Kazuaki Tomida in Tokyo for “Talk Saito 2016” at Tiara Koto Sho-Hall!

June 17 (Fri): Doors Open 18:30 / Start 19:00
June 18 (Sat): Doors Open 16:30 / Start 17:00
June 19 (Sun): Doors Open 14:30 / Start 15:00


Photo: Erika Ueda

The first “Talk Saito” performance was held in the fall of 2003.

It all started when former Kodo member Kazuaki Tomida said “I want to do something fun with you, Eiichi!” We exchanged ideas, then practiced and made our own special duo performance.

It evolved from then into the performances we gave in 2009 and then 2012. This month is our 4th season of “Talk Saito”! And perhaps it will be our grand finale?
This performance is a taiko-meets-comedy show but we are not mucking around. We are both extremely serious about being wholeheartedly foolish for around 2 hours straight.
Please come along and see us live on stage!
One of our alter egos will appear for a lively chat with the audience 15 mins. before each performance, so please come along early enough to take your seat before then. See you there!



Wadaiko Talk Saito 2016

June 17 (Fri), 18 (Sat), 19 (Sun), 2016 Tiara Koto Sho-Hall, Koto Ward, Tokyo


“A Moving Trip of Firsts” by Issei Kohira

May 16, 2016

A Moving Trip of Firsts

Hello, everyone. I am Issei Kohira, a new Kodo junior member. Nice to meet you all.
From May 10 through 15, I went to Singapore with Kodo.

It was my first time performing overseas with Kodo! Actually, it was also my first time to ever travel abroad!


I was a little anxious as I left Japan for the first time and took the six-hour flight to Singapore. As soon as we arrived, along with the humidity I felt the cheerful warmth of Singapore surround me and my worries quickly disappeared.


Soon after arriving, we went to the rehearsal studio of the local taiko group, Hibikiya, who invited us to Singapore. Then we visited the concert venue.

The waterfront venue, Esplanade, has an outdoor stage and the “backdrop” features some of Singapore’s iconic tourist spots: the Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands. There was also a mall there that was bustling with people enjoying meals and shopping. So just being there was fun.

Kodo went to Singapore for a collaboration with Hibikiya, which has so many members and they are so passionate about playing taiko. Their performances also incorporate bamboo flutes and shamisen (Japanese banjo) and they often invite instructors to their group from Japan to give workshops. I was really moved by their attitude towards taiko.

During their performance, I watched them from behind the stage. They were so lively as they performed and I could feel their love for taiko. Their passion struck my heart and it was uplifting.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto
Meanwhile, when I reflect on my own performance, I have many things to work on as an inexperienced newcomer. It took all my might to try and keep up with the Distinguished Members and senior Kodo members. However, every single move they made taught me, and supported me, so I was able to give the best performance of my current capabilities and strength. During my first performance abroad, I learned where to position myself on the Kodo stage.

Leaving Japan for the first time and traveling overseas, I met people who love taiko and I learned that in only four days we could create such strong bonds, connected through the power of taiko.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto
Now that I have returned to Japan, I sincerely hope these these bonds won’t fade and I am praying that we will all meet again somewhere.

I hope that this experience, full of firsts for me, will help me to grow even more.

Next up, I will appear in “Kodo One Earth Tour: Chaos.” This will be my first domestic tour with Kodo. I will be the youngest on this tour and I will perform with all of my might on stage throughout Japan.
I am raring to go!!!


“A Taste of Vietnam at EC 2016” by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

 A Taste of Vietnam at Earth Celebration 2016


Hello, everyone. I hope you are all keeping well.
On Sado we have been rehearsing for various new productions every day. Preparations are also underway for this year’s Earth Celebration (EC).
For EC 2016, we have invited guest artists from Vietnam to join us for a concert at Kodo Village. I went to Vietnam in February on a field trip to prepare for this collaboration.

When we arrived in Hanoi, it was right around Lunar New Year.

Photo: Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

It was bright and festive, with lanterns and Vietnamese flags everywhere.

Photo: Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

We tried a range of local cuisine,

Photo: Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

walked throughout the city,

Photo: Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

and enjoyed exchange with an array of local artists.

Photo: Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

We delighted in the various similarities and differences between our cultures.

Photo: Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

Immersed in the local atmosphere, the week just flew by as we enjoyed local food and local music.

This trip reminded me of the importance of international exchange, visiting new places, and experiencing other cultures firsthand with local people.

I hope our Kodo Village Concert at EC 2016 will be an opportunity for us to recreate and share a taste with our audience of the local atmosphere and culture that we experienced in Vietnam.
EC 2016 has other unique performances by Kodo members on the lineup, too.
We look forward to seeing everyone on Sado Island this August for EC!


Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga
“EC 2016 Kodo Village Concert” Assistant Director



Earth Celebration 2016

*Details about EC 2016 will be announced in English in late May. Tickets go on sale from June 20.

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