Tag ‘Sado Island’
Kodo Village Working Bee
On April 6, we all took part in the annual Kodo Village Working Bee.
Every spring at this event, all the Kodo members and staff meet the newly-arrived apprentices for the first time.
The first-year apprentices arrived on Sado from around Japan and overseas just two days prior. Seeing them full of hope and nerves, I was reminded of myself standing in their place two years ago. It was really moving to see.
During the working bee, we gather wood in the forest surrounding the Village and cut it into firewood to use over the next winter.
Some Kodo members have just returned from Europe and Brazil and others spent the long winter here on Sado. All of them join the staff and apprentices to work in the woods for the whole day. Kodo Village is surrounded by trees and I really felt the arrival of spring by spending the day outdoors with all the new buds and shoots.
It is hard to find the right words to explain it, but when we all work together I feel a unique sense of fulfilment from this communal life and lifestyle. It made me think of how the wind on Sado Island and the communal atmosphere at Kodo Village get infused with different “breezes” from around the world through Kodo’s travels. As I thought about this phenomenon, we carried and stacked wood…carried and stacked, carried and stacked…and by the end of the day we had created a somewhat artistic wall of firewood.
My fellow junior members and I began our new life at Kodo Village two months ago. We have fulfilling days, and other days that don’t go so well, but we all do our very best everyday.
The grass and flowers are growing so quickly.
Everything is suddenly so green.
This is my third year on Sado Island, after two years as an apprentice, and I can see that I still have plenty to learn from this environment and lifestyle.
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
We have started our year with a spring in our step as we begin rehearsals and work.
Thank you in advance for your continued support of Kodo throughout 2016!
English Version of Kodo Apprentice Centre Introduction Video Now Online
In July we shared a new video online that introduces the Kodo Apprentice Centre in Japanese. We are pleased to announce that we have just uploaded an English version, too. This video shows scenes of daily life at the Apprentice Centre on Sado Island throughout the four seasons and introduces the curriculum of the two-year apprentice programme.
Applications for the 2016 intake have closed already. For inquiries regarding the 2017 intake, please contact Kodo Cultural Foundation.
(Please note that advanced Japanese is a selection requirement.)
Kodo Cultural Foundation（Tel.0 259-81-4100 / Email: email@example.com）
Something is different about the rehearsal hall at Kodo Village this week.
An elegant, comfortable, special sound is resonating throughout the building… what can it be?
It is the sound of the Sado-based rehearsals for “Kaguyahime”!
We are currently rehearsing with conductor Michael de Roo and Gagaku (Japanese court music) ensemble Reigakusha for this month’s ballet performances that will be held in Montreal, Canada.
Here’s to the next performance season of “Kaguyahime” in Montreal! See you soon in Canada!
Kodo Appearance in Ballet Performance “Kaguyahime: The Moon Princess”
Oct. 15 (Thu)–30 (Fri), 2015 Montreal, Canada
Sado Island & Kodo Featured on ANA “Is Japan Cool?” Website
Niigata is featured in the Destinations section of the ANA (All Nippon Airways) “Is Japan Cool?” website aimed at international tourists visiting Japan. Kodo is introduced in the part about Sado Island. Please have a look! There is a Chinese version, too. Please share this website on social media and help us spread the word about Japan as a tourist destination.
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!
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!
Kodo Cultural Foundation Project: “Kodo Juku at Fukaura Schoolhouse” Live-in Workshops
O-daiko & Ogi Matsuri Daiko with Yoshikazu Fujimoto
From Jul. 3 through 5, I led a “Kodo Juku at Fukaura Schoolhouse” live-in workshop for eleven participants. The group was made up of men and women of various ages from all over Japan, as well as four people from overseas who came along to play taiko for the first time. It was such a mixed bunch: the youngest participant was 17 and the eldest was 68 years old! We had four workshop sessions in all: Day 1 afternoon, Day 2 morning & afternoon, and Day 3 morning. I used these sessions to teach them O-daiko, where they face the drum and beat it, and Ogi Matsuri Daiko, where they drum standing side-on to the drum, plus a further two pieces. It was tough for them to learn all the different rhythms to play, but they all worked hard and managed to get through each piece. They came together as one, and I was so happy! I breathed a sigh of relief.
On the first day we had a BBQ outside, and I poured my heart and soul into making my specialty egg dish, dashi maki tamago, for them all to enjoy.
July 1, 2015
Earth Celebration: New Beginnings on the Horizon
Hello everyone. I hope that you are well.
This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo. The rainy season began around June 19 in Niigata Prefecture, but it did not rain in Sado until the end of June. Farmers seem to be quite worried about the lack of rain for their crops.
As announced on June 10, there are new changes on the horzion for our annual festival Earth Celebration, which began in 1988. Next year, the festival will change shape and will not be centered around the usual Shiroyama Concerts.
The idea of Earth Celebration originates from the Kodo Village Vision introduced by the first leader of Kodo, the late Toshio Kawauchi (a.k.a. Hancho). He depicted the idea of inviting artists to Sado Island whom Kodo had met while traveling around the world and sending out new ideas and music from Sado together. Ever since EC began, we have used the experience and knowledge we gained by attending festivals including Toga Festival (Toyama, Japan), Sado Music Festival (Sado, Japan) and Edinburgh Festival (UK), to help Earth Celebration to evolve into its current form, incorporating new elements every year.
Earth Celebration usually takes place annually in August, but in the past it was once held in May, and once it was even held in a tent theater for about one month. Earth Celebration has continued as an outdoor event in different forms for the past 28 years.
If I look back on my own Earth Celebration (EC) experiences, well, I came over to Sado for the first time for the first EC in 1988. I attended the Kodo Village Opening Concert, Shiroyama Concerts, and a taiko class held during the daytime where I was able to learn taiko directly from Kodo’s stage performers. When I stop and remember that experience, I can now see it was an event that became a turning point for me, which led me to becoming a member of Kodo.
In 1989, I took part in EC as a Kodo apprentice. A typhoon hit Sado on the last day, and the concert venue was the Ogi Town Gymnasium, but it got converted into an evacuation center due to the storm… I recall that it was so grueling…
I performed as a Kodo junior member at EC 1990. It rained so heavily on the first day that we had to change the concert venue to the Ogi Town Gymnasium. From early in the morning, we were rushing around carrying all of the musical instruments, lighting and sound equipment, and so on, to the Gym. We had no time to rest and hectically rushed about in the mud to prepare and then launched straight into our performance. It is so true that power comes from necessity.
From the first EC in 1988 until 2012, the Kodo performers labored together with the staff members to set up the stage and dismantle it after the festival. We built the festival facilities from scratch, performed for three days, said thanks and goodbye to our guests as they boarded the ferry and left the island by playing farewell taiko, and then packed up all the event venues. The three-day clean up following the festival was something we considered as a part of EC. It was physically demanding, but I thought it was all worth it to hold this event together with people of Sado, volunteers and part-time staff members. We all worked very hard and had a great, exhausting time together, presenting OUR festival as a team.
Every year EC changes for the better with new innovations, ideas, and encounters, based on our experience from the previous year and also from years before. We have introduced new collaborations and guest artists, new workshops, various EC Theatre and Fringe Performances, guerilla live performances at Kisaki Shrine early in the morning, and so on. We always try to improve EC each time, so everyone can enjoy it more and more each year.
Looking ahead to the 30th anniversary of EC in two years, we have decided that now is the time to review the form of our festival, and think about how we can make EC better for Sado Island, Kodo, and everyone who comes along, so we can all continue to enjoy EC together.
EC is one of very few events where you have the opportunity to enjoy an outdoor Kodo performance on Sado Island, where we are based, but we have decided that the time has come to take a step back and rethink the format of EC. So we will start by not centering the festival around the big concerts at Shiroyama Park next year.
This year for our Shiroyama Concerts, we are pleased to welcome a legendary former Kodo member and well-respected performer, Leonard Eto, back to Sado and EC as a guest artist and director. Also, we welcome back Suar Agung from Indonesia. Our past collaborations with them at EC have influenced Kodo pieces in many ways. We are sure the Ogi area will have a multinational, exotic atmosphere for three days during EC. We are now preparing for the events, concerts, workshops, and an array of optional activities to explore Sado Island.
This year, may I suggest you make your trip to Sado via the new Hokuriku Shinkansen? It is a new bullet train service that just started running in March.
The new fast car ferry “Akane” also started operating this April between Ogi and Naoetsu. Please note that all seats on the Akane ferry are allocated chairs and reservations are required, unlike the car ferries to Ogi until last year. So, if all the seats are full, you cannot board. We recommend you book your seats on the ferry as soon as possible.
We look forward to welcoming many of you to Earth Celebration 2015, from abroad, around Japan, and of course, from around Sado Island.