Tag ‘Solo/Small-Group Projects’
Mar. 8 “Ebisu Daikoku” Live
Former “The Blue Hearts” drummer Tetsuya Kajiwara and I (Yosuke Oda) joined forces to create a new unit, “Ebisu Daikoku.”
I had been looking forward to March 8, the day of the debut of “Ebisu Daikoku,” for quite a while. Actually, we had been talking about this project for about 4 years, so it was a long wait. Our concept was to form a band rather than just having a jam session. We wanted to create an entire performance together. So we took the time to discover each other’s timing and breathing and how we drum and play taiko. We compared drum and taiko rhythms and found where they intersect and where we had fusion difficulties. We made use of tiny windows of opportunity in our schedules to create pieces and rehearse together. For our debut performance, we invited guitarist Isaku Suzuki to join us.
We powered through the performance with drums roaring like thunder, taiko howling like gales, and the guitar conjuring an array of different scenery throughout. That hour flew by, but I was left with an unforgettable feeling that will remain with me forever.
On Feb. 19, Motofumi Yamaguchi and I visited some TV stations and a radio station in Kumamoto to promote “Uto Taiko Matsuri.” We gave a mini live performance at each station.
I led a taiko camp from Feb. 20 (Fri) to 22 (Sun), and on the final day, the participants had a recital at Uto Taiko Matsuri to show everyone what they had learned during the camp. Each year, this recital is the first act at the festival. First, we sang “Hobashira Okoshi Ondo” and then we played a new piece called “Narukami, which means “Thunder God.” The ten participants, including three local high school students, had joined me there from all over Japan. I was really pleased that they all took part. Some of them were just beginners, but I had them play simple base rhythms and we were all able to play together.
“Ebisu Daikoku” is a new unit that brings together former “The Blue Hearts” drummer Tetsuya Kajiwara and Kodo’s Yosuke Oda. Their pulsating performance is making its way to Shibuya, Tokyo, this weekend.
Mr. Kajiwara came to Sado Island for from days, from Feb. 23 to 26, to prepare for the performance. I will show you some pictures from their rehearsals.
They created a storm of sound, rhythm, and beats in the large hall as they rehearsed. They demonstrate that there are far more possibilities than you’d think when it comes to drums and taiko. I am sorry that I cannot do their explosive sound justice in pictures.
Please come to Shibuya to feel their sound in person.
See you on March 8 for “Ebisu Daikoku” live!
Ryoko Iwamoto (former Kodo apprentice, staff member since Feb. 2015)
Mar. 8 (Sun), 2015 Yosuke Oda “Ebisu Daikoku” Performance (Shibuya Ward, Tokyo)
Feb. 16, 2015
Motofumi Yamaguchi’s Appearance on FM Niigata’s “FIGUEROA”
On March 27, Kodo will appear at a special event at Ryugon Hotel in Minami-uonuma, Niigata. Motofumi Yamaguchi went to mainland Niigata to appear on FM Niigata to help promote the event, which is called “Kodo x Hakkaisan x Ryugon.”
He was joined on air by Mr. Utsugi from Ryogon Hotel, Mr. Sato from Hakkaisan Brewery and shamisen player, Fumiyoshi. It will be the 6th annual event, so they all know each other well and the recording took place in a very relaxed manner.
We hope you will come along for this special event at Ryogon Hotel on March 27.
Special Event “Kodo x Hakkaisan x Ryugon”
Mar. 27 (Fri), 2015 “Kodo x Hakkaisan x Ryugon” at Ryugon Hotel, Minami Uonuma, Niigata
Appearing: Kodo (Motofumi Yamaguchi, Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Kenta Nakagome, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi, Maya Minowa, Ryosuke Inada), Fumiyoshi (shamisen)
Inquiries: Ryugon Event Desk Tel. 025-773-2222 (9:00 – 18:00)
Seeking Participants for My Upcoming “Taiko Camp in Uto”
This year will mark my third “Taiko Camp in Uto” in Uto City, Kumamoto Prefecture. It is my pleasure to teach others about my own personal stance and mindset for playing o-daiko (the big drum), using the unique, traditional Uto o-daiko drums. The pieces we will work on this time differ from those I shared at the first and second camps.
Taiko Camp in Uto with Kodo’s Yoshikazu Fujimoto
Yoshikazu Fujimoto will head back to Kyushu in February to offer another energetic taiko camp in Uto City, Kumamoto, which is home to 26 keyaki o-daiko (large taiko drums made from Japanese zelkova). This three-day/two-night workshop is designed to allow people to come and experience “taiko life” through Yoshikazu’s character, rather than to learn specific skills. We hope you’ll join him there!
Feb. 20 (Fri)–22 (Sun), 2015 Uto Shimin Kaikan, Uto, Kumamoto
Instructor: Yoshikazu Fujimoto (Kodo)
Fee: 40,000 yen (Accommodations and drumsticks included)
Inquiries:”Kodo Uto Tokubetsu Koen” Staff, Uto Shimin Kaikan Tel. 0964-22-0188
Note: Workshop instruction will be in Japanese only, but everyone is welcome!
Yoko here, with an announcement about my upcoming spring concert.
Hina Matsuri Joshi-kai (Doll’s Festival Ladies Get-Together) Concert
Ladies, let’s all get together and sing
To welcome the warmer days of spring!
Join me at a cozy dog cafe for a special programme full of fun. We will sing some good old songs, I will tell you some of my own dog stories, and we will have a really relaxing time together! You are welcome to bring your dog along, too. This is a get-together for ladies only (ages 12 & over). I am so excited to offer this unique concert for the first time. Please come along!
Hina Matsuri Joshi-kai (Doll’s Festival Ladies Get-Together) Concert
Date & Time: March 3 (Tue), 2015
Doors Open: 18:00 / Start:18:30
Venue: Deco’s Dog Cafe Denen Chofu http://www.hot-dog.co.jp/ (Japanese)
Venue Address: Tokyu Square Garden Site North Bldg., 2-62-1 Denen Chofu, Ota Ward, Tokyo
Prices: 4,000 yen (including one drink), 5,000 yen with a dog (incl. one drink for you and a special snack for your dog)
Capacity: 40 people
Seating Details: All free seating.
Reservations & Inquiries: email@example.com (Sannya Project)
*Please include the number of tickets you would like and your daytime phone number.
*Please note that this event is for women only, ages 12 & over.
Motofumi Yamaguchi: An Interview by Johnny Wales
Composer, arranger, fue (bamboo flute), koto (Japanese harp), shamisen (Japanese banjo-like stringed instrument), kokyu (Japanese violin), flute, cello and piano player Motofumi Yamaguchi was born in 1954 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just up the coast from Tokyo. His family moved to the big city when he was five years old. At high school and university (The Musashino Academy of Music) he studied Western classical music, composition, piano, cello and flute.
In those days classical Japanese music was not generally held in very high regard among fellow students, and even some of the staff. It was seen as not quite as real as music from say, Germany or Italy. Motofumi began to feel this was very strange. Why shouldn’t Japanese have greater respect for their native culture? So he began seeking out performances of Noh and Kabuki, shamisen, koto and even Buddhist shomyo chanting. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that they felt very comfortable to him. He began to sense that he would be able to express himself more naturally in Japanese genres than Western. And so, at the age of 18, he began to study under shamisen (jiuta style) and koto teachers living nearby. He was surprised at how quickly he progressed and began to think that he had discovered a better, more natural direction for his career.
He was also beginning to tire of the big city and to dream of a life making music in the country. One day, while listening to his car radio, he heard vocalist and composer Ryudo Uzaki talking enthusiastically about his wonderful experience making music on Sado Island with a taiko group called Sado no Kuni Ondekoza. He talked about how amazing not only the taiko, but the koto and shamisen sounded too. Motofumi was fascinated and so went out and bought the two available Ondekoza records. They changed his life. As koto and shamisen were two of his instruments, he thought the group might have some use for him. He had heard about Ondekoza’s strict physical regimen and so decided to buy a bicycle. He would combine getting into shape with a 3-month holiday touring Japan. He quit his part-time job, drained his bank account and hit the road.
It was mid-November 1980 when he arrived unannounced at the group’s old wooden school house overlooking Mano Bay. After being reprimanded for not calling ahead, he was invited in and spent 3 days running at the crack of dawn, helping with cooking and cleaning and watching the group train. He returned to Tokyo with the understanding that he would move to Sado in January. Those were the days when there were no interviews, tests nor an apprentice system to join the group. If you showed up, demonstrated enough dedication and persistence, chances are you were in. Motofumi says with a chuckle that he (and quite a few other senior members) probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the place under the current way of doing things!
This was just the time that Ondekoza was splitting off from the group’s founder Mr. Tagayasu Den, so things were in a great state of flux. Back in Tokyo, Motofumi met with Mr. Den and helped around the office for a week. Mr. Den suggested he learn the fue, and rather strangely, that he grow his beard. Motofumi followed his advice on the former matter and after arriving on Sado in the New Year he spent the next six months at the school house while the group toured, teaching himself the Japanese flute. It wasn’t long before he was touring with the group, something he carried on doing – including long stints as Musical Director – for the next 35 years.
On December 12, I took part in the “5th Bi no Tane (Seed of Beauty) in Kyoto” event. International costume designer and artistic director Shingo Tokihiro and a wide range of artists from all over Japan gathered for this on-stage exchange under the theme, “Our Town, Our Land.” Thank you to everyone who came along!
The picture above was taken with taiko performers Mr. Kawarazaki and Mr. Pak and Mr. Tokihiro at our meeting and rehearsal on Nov. 11.
Dec. 12 (Fri), 2014 Kyoto Art Live Theater International (ALTI), Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City
Yoshikazu Fujimoto & Yoko Fujimoto Guest Appearance at “5th Bi no Tane (Seed of Beauty) in Kyoto”
Dec. 14 Performance at Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple
We performed at this year’s Fire-Walking Event at Fukugonji Temple in Komaki, Aichi. Unfortunately, there was bad weather on the day of the performance, but the venue was lively from early on in the morning with performances by a variety of groups and stalls selling tasty fare.
This is the second time for Kodo to perform at this event, following on from last year. Before the event started, the temple priests briefed us on the origins of the ritual. I felt so honored to be able to perform at their event, which has been held for centuries. I was determined to do my best.
As evening drew nearer, the temperature went down steadily. A bell was sounded at 5 o’clock and we started our performance right there in the bell tower. They kept ringing the bell during our performance. The sound of our taiko echoed out nicely far and wide– perhaps that is because the tower was built so that the sound of the bell could be heard at every corner of the village?
After that, we performed on the main stage right in front of the spot where the fire-walking ritual took place. It was colder than I had expected… so cold that any of our skin not covered by clothing hurt intensely. Surprisingly, that painful chill actually cheered us on.
For O-daiko, Kenta Nakagome was playing on the front of the big drum and it looked like his back was giving off steam. You could tell from Yuta Sumiyoshi’s drumming on the back and Tetsumi Hanaoka’s chappa (cymbal) playing that they were getting into the spirit of it, too.
We started to play Yatai-bayashi as the fire was set alight. I think our performance sounded a little bit different in front of the firey blaze and smoke.
However, no matter how much heart we put into the performance, it was freezing cold! I did not feel cold during our performances, but I seemed to be shivering so much, and that caused a lot of muscle pain deep inside my body which hit me the next day.
This ritual tells of the horror of all-consuming fire, but at the same time, I learned the horror of the opposite: coldness. The power of nature is beyond our own. This experience made me reflect on the way I spend my time in winter: I realize that if you stay wrapped up too warm in winter, you become a weaker human being!
The “School Workshop Performance Tour” members are all doing well!
On Dec. 2, it was the opening night of the December Kabuki Program at Kabukiza Theatre in Tokyo. It was my debut taiko performance in a Kabuki play and it went well.
After the performance, I practiced with Eiichi Saito and former Kodo member Kazunari Abe in the hall where our taiko is kept. As a triple cast, we are taking turns to perform at the climax of the play everyday until December 26.
Kazunari came all the way from Shikoku to join us. It’s so good to see him again.
Kabukiza Theatre December Kabuki Program (Evening Programme)
“Narukami Fudo Kitayama Zakura” (Saint Narukami and Deity Fudo)
Dates: Dec. 2 (Tue)–Dec. 26 (Fri), 2014
Appearing: Ebizo Ichikawa, Ainosuke Kataoka, Shido Nakamura, Tamasaburo Bando, & others.
Kabukibito | December Kabuki Program http://www.kabuki-bito.jp/theaters/kabukiza/2014/12/post_82.html (in Japanese)
For details & ticket orders in English, please visit Shochiku Ticket Web http://www1.ticket-web-shochiku.com/en/info/schedule.html#1