On Our Travels
Hello, everyone. I hope you are all well.
In the past couple of years, Kodo has had more chances than usual to visit countries outside of Europe and North America. This year we gave performances in Vietnam, Brazil, and Korea. Last year we performed in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Eastern Russia.
I visited three of these countries this year with Kodo:
- Brazil, just before the Olympic Games,
- Korea, which has a sense of distance from Japan these days that is not geographical,
- and Vietnam, whose considerable economic growth is being likened to that of our nation during its post-WW2 rapid economic growth period.
These concerts came about through rather challenging processes, unlike our established tours in Europe or North America, but the experiences we gained by spending quality time in these places with local people were all invaluable and rich. Above all, I was able to feel the power of performing arts and music, which bring people together for exchange that leads to mutual understanding.
While I am traveling, I have much more time to read books and articles than when I am at home on Sado Island. Some of my fellow Kodo members are also book lovers, so I often see people reading on the road as we travel from place to place. (Others listen to music, tap their drumsticks, watch performance videos, and so on.) Every day, I like to look through the newspaper, which is a habit I’ve somehow kept up since childhood.
On the road, one of the ways I enjoy my travels is by making a point of reading local newspapers and content related to the places we visit. This year I went to Brazil and Vietnam, so I read well-known travel journals by Kotaro Sawaki and Takeshi Kaiko. As I traveled from place to place, I wondered, “Is this the place he was talking about in his book?” If I have free time, going to a bookshop makes me feel refreshed. I am shocked to see that my bookshelves at home have suddenly become packed, but I think buying things that you like is a little investment in yourself. It enriches your soul. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself. When I buy and read books, I feel gratitude to everyone connected to their creation.
Less than two months remain in 2016 and we still have many places to visit on our travels.
As always, we will bring the “fruits” of our tours with us back to Sado Island, then set off again on further travels.
Yuichiro Funabashi, Kodo Ensemble Leader
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble KODO
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Kodo “DADAN 2016” Brazil Tour
Mar. 9, 2016
Kodo’s Live Appearance on a Nationwide Brazilian TV Program!
Kodo appeared on a live national Brazilian TV program called “Entontro com Fátima Bernandes” today before noon.
Fátima and all other guests on the show were great. At the end of the program, taiko was an amazing way to communicate without any language barrier. Please have a look at the program online!
http://gshow.globo.com/programas/encontro-com-fatima-bernardes/videos/t/para-assinantes/v/encontro-com-fatima-bernardes-programa-de-quarta-feira-09032016-na-integra/4870619/ (Program begins after advertisement)
Approx. timing of Kodo appearances: 1:00–1:45 / 29:30–33:30 / 51:30–end.
Our performances in Brazil are getting very close!
March 2016 Kodo “DADAN 2016″ Brazil Tour
The last time Kodo toured in South America was in 2008.
Kodo continually evolves, so we look forward to sharing our dynamism and strength with Brazil this year!
This will be the South American premiere of Kodo’s “DADAN,” performed with passion and energy by eleven powerful male performers. The cast, featuring veteran performers and brand new members, has been rehearsing relentlessly for this tour.
We are all sincerely looking forward to seeing everyone at the theaters in Brazil. Tchau!
March 2016 Kodo “DADAN 2016” Brazil Tour