Posts by Kodo Members
“Iwate Sanriku Chinkon Fukkosai” Festival
Sep. 13, 2015 | Miyako, Iwate
“Iwate Sanriku Chinkon Fukkosai” is an annual festival that began in 2013 to help recover the spirit of Sanriku’s festivals and local folk arts in the wake of the Tohoku Pacific Earthquake.
The backdrop for our taiko performance at the festival was the blue sea, white cliffs, and green pine trees. Jodogahama Beach is a famous scenic spot in the Sanriku Area. It may look like a peaceful place, but I heard that when the tsunami came after the 2011 Earthquake, it went up over these huge rocks and right over the rest-area buildings.
That was four and a half years ago. Even though the rubble has been tidied up, it has not been removed as they are still waiting for a designated place to take it. There were so many vacate sites throughout the town. As you’d expect, we saw so many scenes that you could only see by actually going to the disaster area, and honestly, it made me regret that my own sympathy for the recovery efforts had somewhat faded with time.
The audience watched our performance and applauded for us to the very end, despite the rain.
Thank you very much to everyone who came along!
We will continue to do what we can to help keep the plight of the disaster area from fading away.
Obon in the USA
This year I took part in some of the Obon festivities in the USA. I’d like to share some of my memories from that experience with you all.
Some years ago, I think it was in 2001, I gave a present to San Jose Taiko in California: the melody and song lyrics for their taiko piece, “Ei Ja Nai Ka.” Then, people started to dance to that song at Obon, and this year it was chosen as the official music for Obon in California. When I heard that people were going to dance to it all over the state, I got so excited and decided to head over to the USA to witness the spectacle firsthand.
On July 11 & 12, I took part in San Jose’s Obon festival, which I had heard was the largest in the USA with 1000 people joining the dance circle each year. The turnout was even beyond my expectations! Volunteers from a local Buddhist church set up stalls selling foods, sundries, fans, toys and all kinds of things, and they really made the festival lively! In Japanese-American society, the Obon Festival is a ceremony when you remember your ancestors, as well as a time to reaffirm your connection with your community. It’s the most important family event of the year for many people.
I sang surrounded by 1000 people dancing and it really filled me with strength. The call and response during the song was so powerful. It made me so happy and it was such an honor to join them all.
Many people came along wearing yukata (summer kimono) and some fun costumes also caught my eye. I was impressed right away by how international Obon is in America. The people there looked like they were all from different races, but despite appearances, apparently most of them have Japanese heritage.
The USA is a multicultural nation, and that’s why people have such a strong, deep awareness their own community. In Japan, people say we are “only Buddhist for funerals,” but people who go to Buddhist churches in the U.S. also have weddings there and it appears that their religion is more a part of their daily lives than it is in Japan.
On July 18, I took part in the Obon festival in Venice, Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it rained that day. They decided to cancel it, but then changed their minds saying, “We can’t possibly cancel a festival that commemorates our ancestors!”
Luckily their enthusiasm and all the dancing eventually drove the rain away.
Races continue to blend more and more in society as time goes by. And this event continues to be a special occasion for people with Japanese heritage to think about their existence and give thanks to their ancestors.
Next year, I would like to come back for the Obon festival held by Senshin Buddhist Temple in L.A. They don’t set up stalls or the like, they just dedicate their efforts to holding a memorial ceremony for their ancestors. I hope I can make it.
Setting off on the Fall Tour of
“Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Eternity”
The hot, hot summer has come to an end and the smell of autumn is in the air. Today the cast and crew for “Eternity” set off on our fall tour. Our first performance is in Yachiyo in Chiba and it just happens to be… MY HOME TOWN!
Kodo has been to Yachiyo before and I remember seeing a Kodo member, Yuichiro Funabashi, at a bookshop near the theater and asking him in a flurry if I could shake his hand. I was a high school student at the time and seems like a while ago now.
I saw Kodo perform on that stage in my hometown and now the day is approaching when I will perform on that stage as a Kodo member. I will do my best, Yachiyo!
“Eternity” Sep.–Oct. 2015 Japan Tour
Discography | Eternity
Sep. 1, 2015
Upon Arrival in Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia, Russia
Before the buzz from Earth Celebration had faded away, we set off for Ulan-Ude in the Republic of Buryatia, Russia, traveling via Mongolia into Siberia.
We came to perform the music for a ballet production by Morihiro Iwata called “Tamashii” (Spirit). Mr. Iwata is currently the artistic director of the Buryat National Academic House of Ballet. “Tamashii” was created using recordings of Kodo music and for this performance he invited us to come and play the music live. Our rehearsals have begun and I am really looking forward to seeing how this work evolves with the addition of our live music!
Russia-Japan Cultural Festival for Peace and Friendship
Sep. 3 (Thu), 2015 Buryat State National Theatre of Song and Dance “Baikal,” Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia, Russia
Hello to all our supporters! It’s been a while since I posted on the Kodo Blog.
How are you all doing?
On Sado at night we can now hear crickets chirping as the season changes from summer to autumn. At the end of summer, we always enjoy taking part in our local town’s port festival, “Ogi Minato Matsuri.”
Ogi Minato Matsuri is a festival in Ogi Town, where Kodo is based, that features lion dances, portable shrines (mikoshi), folk songs and dances, festival drumming, Sado Onikenbai (demon sword dance), samba and more, all going from door to door throughout the town.
During this festival, you can see a side of Kodo that you don’t see when we perform on stage at theaters as we interact with all the locals. Next year, Ogi Minato Matsuri will take place straight after Earth Celebration for two days. Please come along!
Seitaro Kuroda is coming back to Sado for the first time in twenty-something years… I wonder what it will be like when he sees his murals here again…
If you’re coming to EC, please have a look around Ogi for his pictures here and there. Here’s a map to help you find them!
▼Above: Mural in 1988 on completion. Below: Same mural today
▼Above: Mural in 1988 on completion. Below: Same mural today
▼House-wall mural as seen today
[EC 2015] Seitaro Kuroda × Tatsuya Nakamura ×Kenta Nakagome Live Painting Performance “Flame”
This is an EC Special Fringe performance, so admission is free! See you there!
Earth Celebration 2015 EC Theatre
Chieko Kojima’s “Yukiai–Kiyohime”
On August 23, the third day of EC 2015, I cordially invite you to join me for EC Theatre event, “Yukiai–Kiyohime.” This year we published a Kiyohime photobook and I am also working on a DVD. I look forward to sharing the world of Kiyohime with more people around the world.
First, allow me to introduce the original cast members: Shunsuke Kimura (fue [flute], shamisen [Japanese banjo]), Shingo Ikegami (koto [harp]), Hiromi Nishida (violin), and Ayuko Ikeda (percussion).
At EC, we will have a special cast that features Park Soon-A playing a Korean harp, the gayaguem. I look forward to portraying Kiyohime in another realm of sound.
But wait, there’s more! On Day 2, there will be an Iwami Kagura performance on the Fringe Stage and one of the members, Taizo Kobayashi, will join me for EC Theatre to perform a serpent dance. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to have this cast together. Don’t miss it!
I will perform my signature piece, Hana Hachijo, at the climax of the production.
I hope you will come along to see my unique portrayal of Kiyohime from the Tales of Dojoji.
A young girl played in the fields all day long
Chasing after flowers and frolicking butterflies with a pure heart Her name was Kiyohime
She fell in love with him at first sight
It was in the early days of summer when dew sparkled on the fresh foliage
They promised each other that they would meet again
As Kiyohime awaited his return, her arduous yearning for the monk intensified with every day
But the monk never appeared
Kiyohime learned that he had avoided her by taking another route
Yet the monk drove her away and vanished
It scattered her love, flowers, and tears
Cornering him at last
To another realm
Also, during EC please come along to see the “Kiyohime on Sado Island” Chieko Kojima × Maiko Miyagawa Photo Exhibiton. It will be held at Hiyoriyama, a cozy cafe on the main shopping street in Ogi. We hope you will enjoy this portrayal of Kiyohime‘s journey through the changing seasons on Sado Island.
Chieko Kojima “Yukiai–Kiyohime”
Getting Ready for Earth Celebration
Earth Celebration is about to begin and we are rehearsing with all our might!
Usually we are all off on different projects and tours, so summer is always a special time of year for us because we all come together at the Kodo Village Rehearsal Hall to create sound together, work hard together, and perform on the same stage. This year will be the last EC that centers around the Shiroyama Concerts, so while it’s sad to see the end of an era, it’s all the more reason to give it our all! We hope you all come and have a ball with us! I hope we can make EC 2015 a special turning point that leads to bright new horizons!
See you all at Shiroyama Park!
We began our rehearsals for Earth Celebration on Aug. 8. Today we are practicing for the “Kodo Night” performance that will be held on Aug. 21.
With so many Kodo members in the rehearsal hall at once it got very lively in seconds.
We hope you’re all looking forward to EC as much as we are!
EC is about to begin!
After this photo was taken, my icecream fell off the stick.
※Of course, I put the stick and wrapper in the trash can!