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Tag ‘Solo/Small-Group Projects’

“Ninjas!” by Kenta Nakagome

Photo: Kenta Nakagome150726_155029

I was captured by ninjas at Matsumoto Castle!

Photo: Mitsunaga Matsuura

We performed at the Taiko Drum Festival at Matsumoto Castle and many of the elementary school children we met during our recent School Workshop Performances in Matsumoto came along to see us. It was so good to see them all again! We had a great time. Thank you very much, everyone in Matsumoto!

Kodo Guest Appearance at “The 28th Annual Taiko Drum Festival at Matsumoto Castle”


“Ikkan Fugetsu Vol. 2: Tomoshibi” by Motofumi Yamaguchi

Ikkan Fugetsu Vol. 2: Tomoshibi

On July 10, my second album “Ikkan Fugetsu Vol. 2: Tomoshibi” was released at long last! Thank you for your patience and support, everyone.

For this album, I didn’t limit myself to playing Japanese songs since I play a Japanese bamboo flute… I decided to include a wide range of songs that I like, ranging from Russian folksongs to American sprituals, from my own originals to Uyghur folksongs.

I invited Mikio Tsuji (eleven-string alto guitar), Yumi Nogami (piano & vocals), and Yoshie Abe (tategoto [vertical koto harp] & vocals) to collaborate with me on the album. They are all such unique performers and they shared their talents without restraint. I chose my bamboo flute, either makobue or shinobue, especially to suit each song… but actually, I really had no choice but to play a shinobue for many of the pieces to suit the delicate tones of Mr. Tsuji’s guitar and Ms. Abe’s harp.


Just like on my first album, the last track is kind of like a bonus track, so to speak. I dedicated this track to the late Akira Nino, the pianist who performed on my debut album. I thought the lyrics of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” sounded like his inner monologue during his life, so I chose this piece for him. When you listen to it, when the lyrics say the word “Lord,” please think of the word “Music.”

By the way, here’s the word on the street:

“Music these days is all downloadable, cheap and convenient.”
“Not at all, it is better to buy a CD that spins and have a cover to hold and read.”

And here’s what I say:

“One or the other, or both, I don’t mind… just please listen to the music.”


At the “Gin-iro no Kaze” Concert on Dec. 18, 2015. From left: Yumi Nogami, Kosuke Urushikubo (Kodo), Motofumi Yamaguchi, Yoshie Abe, and Mikio Tsuji.


Discography | Ikkan Fugetsu Vol. 2: Tomoshibi


kodo2[CD] Motofumi Yamaguchi “Ikkan Fugetsu Vol. 2: Tomoshibi” at Kodo Online Store



“San Jose Obon Festival” by Yui Kawamoto

San Jose Obon Festival

Greetings from San Jose, California!
Yoko Fujimoto and I attended one of the nation’s largest obon festivals this weekend. The obon culture in the United States is a little different, as many take place on various weekends and different locations throughout early summer.
Let me tell you a little about the one that we attended: San Jose Obon.

Obon: an annual Buddhist event to commemorate one's ancestors


San Jose Obon is famous for hosting great taiko performances by Californian collegiate groups and San Jose Taiko!
San Jose Taiko was established before Kodo was founded, and our groups have been great friends since the very beginning. They have supported Kodo in many ways over the years, including the storage of some of our touring equipment in their studio!

Photo: Yui KawamotoPhoto: Yui Kawamoto

Taiko performances, food, and games are enjoyed by friends and family throughout the entire Obon weekend.
At the end of each night many people gather for…..

Obon dancing!


Here at San Jose Obon, over 1,000 people gather and dance to live music played by the Chidori Band and San Jose Taiko.
One of the dance pieces is called Ei Ja Nai Ka.
The taiko music was composed by PJ Hirabayashi from San Jose Taiko and the melody and lyrics that were written by Kodo’s Yoko Fujimoto.
This is a popular dance piece that has been enjoyed for many years, mainly by the Northern Californian communities, and it was truly wonderful to hear Yoko’s voice accompanying it live this year!
This piece will actually make its debut at a further 18 new obon festivals this summer, so if you are in the United States this summer, make sure to check out an obon festival near you! You might even hear Yoko’s vocals…


Photo: Yui Kawamoto

“‘Yamazu Megurumo’ Concert” by Yoko Fujimoto

Yoko Fujimoto “Yamazu Meguromo” Concert
At Craft Kowa, Tokyo (June 10, 2015)

Wakako Sato, the presenter of this concert, uses traditional picture mounting skills in ways that suit our modern way of life and hopes to hand these skills down to future generations. Even though our fields of works are different, she shares the same passion for creation that the Kodo group has pumping through its veins. Wakako was my classmate in high school. Surrounded by the energy of our friendship and her works, at this concert I sang in such a relaxed, feel-good way, while plucking away at a makoto harp*, which I had only just been introduced to for the very first time!

*Makoto harp: A new instrument created by Rieko Renuma after the 3.11 Tohoku Pacific Earthquake & Tsunami.


Wakako Sato works closely with her neighbors and community to organize events that bind the city and country through food. Her network is similar to the concept we had when we founded Kodo Village on Sado Island.

Since spring I have been blessed with a number of new encounters, including the makoto harp, and the path of my “journey with song” has become clearer all of a sudden. I will use songs to boost people’s immunity, as well as my own.

Does that make you laugh? Well, I mean it!

That’s exactly what I want to do!


With the makoto harp

In other words, I am focusing on the love involved in singing and music. For example, when you play an instrument or sing, you express an array of things. If the audience tells you they were moved, soothed, encouraged, or so on, well if that makes you happy as an artist, you could say that you perform to move and energize others, as your purpose. Artists and their audiences give and receive, love and receive love, interact and share all kinds of emotions and experiences, good and bad. We can all choose to think of life and all its encounters as interesting or challenging, instead of rough or tough. We can cry together and laugh together.

If you share your emotions and let people and music in, your heart and mind can feel that connection to others and receive great power. As we are uplifted emotionally, our physical strength, and even our immunity and resilience, also increase. By singing, drumming, dancing, and sharing time together, we can create power within us, which we can then draw on in times of need. This power will help us to overcome various difficulties and all kinds of infections, both now and in the future. That’s a wonderful thing to do, don’t you think? I believe that music and communication can have this effect and I will continue working and singing in the hopes of sharing this effect with many people.

I want to use my power as an artist to create a network of love and harmony that strengthens people from within. I’ll continue my travels with an enthusiastic smile on my face, singing as I go… here, there and everywhere. I’ll do my very best!


Artworks created by Wakako Sato


“Collaboration with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra” by Tetsumi Hanaoka

Apr. 8, 2015

Collaboration with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra

I’m in Osaka with the rest of the Kodo cast and crew for our collaboration with the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra. We are going to perform Maki Ishii’s Mono-Prism under their conductor, Michiyoshi Inoue. It has been 6 years since Kodo last performed Mono-Prism, which was in Rome, Italy, and 22 years since Kodo last performed it in Osaka. It will be my very first time.

Photo: Taro Nishita

From Kodo’s last Mono-Prism performance in Japan, in Tokyo (2008)

As I’m sure many of you know, composer Maki Ishii’s piece Mono-Prism has a subtitle “for Japanese drums and orchestra,” and he based the taiko piece (now a “Kodo classic”) Monochrome on this taiko & orchestra piece.

Maki Ishii also composed Dyu-Ha and ballet suite Kaguyahime, which Kodo has performed countless times. Mono-Prism is a crucial part of Kodo’s history: it was debuted by Kodo’s antecedent group Ondezoka, then performed at Kodo’s own debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981 with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.

On the first day of rehearsals for this year’s performance, the conductor Michiyoshi Inoue met with Kodo first, to check through the piece together.

He said things like, “This part is sharp, make it cut like a Japanese sword,” and “That part is really menacing!,” and gave us all kinds of advice.

These images might seem obscure, but Mr. Inoue’s instructions were really easy for us to grasp and when we were rehearsing, we could see that his directions were really accurate for the feel of the piece. It felt like he enjoyed following the score and feeling the unique schrony of our taiko, which clashed and harmonized with the orchestra.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto

On the second day of rehearsals, we practiced Mono-Prism with the orchestra.

Personally, I felt that the orchestra has its own unique physical synchrony and timing, just like taiko does. By no means are they just playing what is written on the score and simply progressing through the piece. I was able to understand this firsthand by taking part in these rehearsals with them. It was a valuable experience for me to see if their synchrony and timing could harmonize with ours as we played taiko. It is a really difficult challenge. This collaboration has taught me so much already, although I haven’t performed this piece for an audience yet! Please come and see us perform this weekend.



Apr. 10 (Fri) & 11 (Sat), 2015 Collaboration with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra at Festival Hall, Osaka City

Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra on Twitter


Photo Gallery: Collaboration with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra

Maki Ishii‘s Mono-Prism (for Japanese drums and orchestra)

Thank you very much to everyone who joined us for our collaboration with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra on April 10 & 11.

Photo: Takashi Iijima
Photo: Takashi IijimaPhoto: Takashi Iijima

Photo: Takashi Iijima

Mono-Prism with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Michiyoshi Inoue


Photo: Takashi Iijima

Photos: Takashi Iijima


Apr. 10 (Fri) & 11 (Sat), 2015 Collaboration with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra at Festival Hall, Osaka City

Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra on Twitter

“Countdown to ‘Mono-Prism’ Live on Stage” by Ryoko Iwamoto

Apr. 10, 2015

Countdown to ‘Mono-Prism’ Live on Stage

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto

After four days of intensive rehearsals, today is the day for our first 2015 performance of Mono-Prism. It is such a rare opportunity for both our performers and staff to collaborate with an orchestra, so we are all taking in as much of the experience as we can possibly absorb.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto

During these rehearsals, the orchestra performers asked the Kodo members a wide range of questions about Kodo and taiko, such as what Kodo does for its daily training and how we tune our taiko drums. The Kodo members also asked the percussionists about their handmade stick stands, and they showed a great deal of interest in the various genres of instruments on stage. The orchestra and Japanese drums really do create a unique realm when they perform this piece.

We are all waiting for you here at the theater!


With the Maestro after the rehearsals on April 8.


The Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra truck and Kodo truck also got on very well



Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra on Twitter (Japanese)

“All Loaded in for ‘Mono-Prism’!” by Tetsumi Hanaoka

Apr. 10, 2015


We’re all loaded in and set up on stage for Mono-Prism, and now we are getting ready for our rehearsal today.

Looking around the orchestra, I noticed something interesting…four wooden fish.


Apparently they normally use these in the orchestra and they call them “Temple Blocks,” not wooden fish!
We use wooden fish (mokugyo in Japanese) on the Kodo stage, but I had no idea that I’d ever see an orchestra playing them!


I also saw they had gongs called “Kin” and bin sasara in the percussion area. It made me feel happy to see Eastern instruments in an orchestra full of Western instruments.

Time to get ready for our performance! I’ll do my best!


Collaboration with Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra
Apr. 10 (Fri) & 11 (Sat), 2015 Festival Hall, Osaka City

Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra on Twitter (Japanese)


“Appearance at Opening Event for Joetsu Myoko Station” by Tomohiro Mitome

Appearance at Opening Event
for Joetsu Myoko Station on New Hokuriku Shinkansen Line

We were invited to perform at two opening events for Joetsu Myoko Station on New Hokuriku Shinkansen Line: a private celebration in Takada City on Mar. 14 and a public performance at Joetsu Myoko Station’s Kamakura Dome on Mar. 15.

Photo: Tomohiro Mitome

At the private celebration in Takada City on Mar. 14

At this brand new station, we were joined on stage by three brand new Kodo junior members! They must have felt the pressure of being assigned some of the main parts to perform, but I am sure that it was a memorable debut for them to perform for so many people.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto

At Joetsu Myoko Station Kamakura Dome on Mar. 15

In April, a new high-speed ferry called “Akane” will run between Naoetsu Port and Ogi Port on Sado. Access to southern Sado Island will become much easier and faster using the new bullet train line and fast car ferry. We hope you will come to see us for the “Kodo Special Performances on Sado Island” this spring, and “Earth Celebration” this summer.


Hina Matsuri Joshi-kai Concert” by Yoko Fujimoto

Hina Matsuri Joshi-kai (Doll’s Festival Ladies Get-Together) Concert

This spacious, beautiful cafe was the perfect place for my concert. I think it was a comfortable, peaceful and refreshing time for all of us there. Thank you very much to all of you who came along and everyone who helped prepare for the concert.

Photo: Mizuho Hasegawa

The day before this dog cafe concert, the organizer Noriko had me over to stay at her home. We made lyric sheets together, admired her dolls on display, and celebrated the concert in advance by sampling the sweet sake that would be provided at the concert venue.

Photo: Mizuho Hasegawa

I wore a new pink costume with flowers on it especially for the Doll’s Festival, to feel like a young girl again.

Photo: Mizuho Hasegawa

I sang songs filled with flowers, from good old songs to little pieces by Beethoven.
I played the koto (harp) to accompany three of the songs. One of them was about my beloved dog, Kintoki, may he rest in peace.

Photo: Mizuho Hasegawa
The audience sang along with me, following the lyric sheets we had prepared. Their kind, warm sound echoed throughout the venue.

Photo: Mizuho Hasegawa
This time, I chose to perform pieces that I just learned or had just revisited anew, so I battled against my age and memory skills to prepare for the concert. But through this experience, I fell in love with popular songs like “Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana” and “Hana wa Saku” and I would like to keep singing them from now on, too.

Photo: Mizuho Hasegawa
Little Tora came the concert and listened my songs quietly. What a cutie! Thanks for coming. See you again!

Photo: Mizuho Hasegawa

This is Hideko, the owner of Deco’s Dog Cafe. She is looking forward to our next special event together. I am happy to hear that!

Next time, I’ll have a concert that boys can come along and enjoy, too.

Photos: Mizuho Hasegawa


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