In the near future, apparently one in five people aged 65 & over in Japan will be likely to suffer from dementia. To combat this, Sado Island Taiko Centre and Sado City Senior Citizens Welfare and Care Insurance Division launched “EXADON” in 2014, which is a course that teaches people about playing taiko as a way to prevent dementia.
“EXADON” is a word created by dementia specialist Mr. Yoshinori Morimoto (Shiosai Clinic) from these three words: “Exercise” + “Sado” + “Don (the sound of a taiko drum).”
Last year, the “EXADON 2014 Supporter Training Course” was held to teach supporters (future EXADON facilitators). This innovative project has been expanding on Sado Island ever since. There were 30 participants in this course and they came to Sado Island Taiko Centre twice a month for three months. At the beginning of the course, their sound was very weak, but at the end of it, they all enjoyed playing taiko so their sound got much bigger and really powerful. Over the course of those 3 months, they had all become taiko enthusiasts.
Recently, the first EXADON workshop was led by some of the EXADON supporters at a lecture about dementia prevention. It went really well.
When the EXADON supporters were too serious, Shinchan-sensei gave them this adivice: “Don’t forget to smile!”
When the workshop participants smiled and laughed, the EXADON supporters really enjoyed themselves, too. They all had a great time together.
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!
Feb. 4, 2015
Hello, everyone! This is Yosuke Oda. I’m in Berkeley, California, with the “Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery” North America tour.
I was invited to lead a workshop for the members of Raijin Taiko at UC Berkeley today.
First, we all introduced ourselves and then we had time to do stretches together. Everyone shouted loudly to count “ichi, ni, san … (one, two, three…), and so did I. Then, they performed their piece Kazoku (Family) for me. They were so upbeat and their cheerful sound echoed throughout the hall. After that, I gave my own performance demo. It felt good to play taiko supported by their energy.
Just as we started to feel at ease with each other, the workshop started! The theme for this workshop was “Create your own sound.” Everyone caught on to what I taught so quickly, so we progressed at a good pace. Kate, who interpreted for me, did her best, too. Thank you, Kate!
At the end of the workshop, I asked them to play their piece Kazoku once again to show what they had learned today. They began with amazing power and volume, and the rhythm was livelier than the first time they played it. They all helped each other like a real family and it was an awesome performance.
Seeing their performance made me think how good it is to be natural. Being natural and your own sound are directly related.
At the end, we took this picture and they gave me a lot of presents, too. Thank you very much for today, Raijin Taiko! Let’s play taiko together again!
Dec. 14 Folk Performing Arts Lecture and Workshop in Fukuoka
I visited Fukuoka last week on tour with “Kodo One Earth Tour: Eternity.” On Dec. 14, the day before our first performance at Hakataza Theater, I was invited as a guest speaker to give a “Folk Performing Arts Lecture” to high school students from around Fukuoka Prefecture. I gave a talk and led a workshop. To my surprise, about 160 students gathered for the event!
I heard that the teachers from the various high schools would like to start introducing local traditional performing arts to their school taiko clubs. So, at the beginning of the lecture, I talked a little bit about the reasons and intentions behind Kodo’s integration of traditional performing arts from all over Japan into our performances, and how we go about doing that. Then I led a workshop for them.
At the supervising teachers’ request, I did a workshop based on the theme of “Practise Methods that Don’t Require Taiko.” Apparently all of their schools have a lot more taiko club members than taiko drums (…can something be done about that?), so they gave me this unique theme to suit their particular situation.
I had never given a workshop based on a theme like this before, nor had I ever had so many participants in one workshop, so I really puzzled over what to do while I was preparing for this workshop. I decided to do rhythm training by clapping our hands and rhythm practice using kuchi shoga or vocalization of the rhythm. We did both of these activities rather thoroughly and the students concentrated hard until the very end and seemed to enjoy themselves, too.
I think it was a fruitful session, thanks to the encouraging support from my fellow Kodo members.
The lecture and workshop gave me a good opportunity to reflect on the basics, while the serious attitude, excited facial expressions, and laughter of the young participants’ gave us a lot of energy.
I really hope that they had a great time, too.
Thank you for such a fun time!
Kodo Workshop Performance Tour
The current Kodo Workshop Performance Tour has a brand new cast and programme!
Here’s a message from first-time programme director Eri Uchida and the cast. They’re looking forward to seeing everyone on their tour for some fun with taiko!
Next Public Performance:
Taiko Experience Corner during a School Workshop Performance
Fukaura Gakusha – The Fukaura Schoolhouse
by Johnny Wales
Not far from Kodo Village and perched high on the same ridge on Sado’s southern-most coast is the Fukaura Schoolhouse. This is where the first generation of Kodo members’ own children went to elementary and middle school, so it holds a special place in our hearts. Sadly, three years ago – as in so many other places in the Japanese countryside – it closed due to lack of young people to fill up its desks. Just a 15-minute walk down the road from the Sado Island Taiko Centre, a 15-minute drive from the port of Ogi, and 20 minutes to Sado’s largest sandy beach, this nostalgic wooden school in a grassy field is setting out on its second life. It will serve as a base for people coming to breath the air and experience first-hand what has made this magical island such a source of inspiration to us these forty years. Kodo’s dream has long been to not only bring the sights and sounds of Japan to the world but also to bring the world to Sado. We also want to do our part in giving back to the people of the island. Our busy lives here and on tour have meant that we haven’t been able to open Kodo Village to visitors except on special occasions. For those wanting to experience taiko here on the island the Sado Taiko Centre was built next to Kodo Village in 2007. There are no facilities for staying over though, so people were on their own when looking for a convenient place to stay. They say ‘When one door closes, another opens’, and so it is with the old Fukaura Schoolhouse. With the installation of modern bathrooms and conversion of some of the classrooms into dormitories with either tatami mats or bunk beds, we now have comfortable, if simple accommodations at a reasonable price for groups of up to 40 people, and it’s right down the road. Three meals a day are available featuring delicious home-made, seasonal, locally-sourced cuisine. A vegetarian or special dietary plan can also be arranged.
So if your group wants to experience the best of rural Japan – and while you are at it, drum your hearts out – here is the place to do it. Whether you are an experienced taiko group, have never even seen a Japanese drum and want to use a workshop as a team-building exercise, or you have a group of both veterans and beginners, one of Kodo’s veteran players can tailor a workshop to meet your needs.
July 23, 2014
Eiichi Saito’s 3-Day Intensive Workshop
Following Chieko Kojima’s workshop, Eiichi Saito’s 3-Day Intensive Workshop was held at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI) housed at Asano Taiko US this week.
We had participants from all over the world (i.e. Australia, Belgium, Spain, etc…) thanks to the World Taiko Gathering that was held last weekend.
Under the theme of “Hard Work and Hard Play,” the 20 participants put their hearts and souls together for 3 full days of playing taiko.
July 18 – 20 Chieko Kojima & Eiichi Saito at
“2014 World Taiko Gathering” (Los Angeles, USA)
This past weekend, we participated in the World Taiko Gathering held in Little Tokyo of Los Angeles.
Left: At the Welcome Reception on the first day. Over 300 particpants enjoy a meal and jam session together.
Right: Presentation about Kodo & Sado Island.
Taiko players from all over the world came together on this wonderful event, and the diversity of bachi bag holders walking around town was a heart-warming sight!
Outdoor events were held day to night; wonderful workshops, informative discussion sessions, and exciting performances created a festive atmosphere.
Left: Eiichi Saito leads a beginner’s taiko workshop
Right: Chieko Kojima leads a dance workshop
The Los Angeles Taiko Institute (LATI), housed at Asano Taiko U.S., hosted a 3-day intensive workshop led by Chieko Kojima.
Participants were from all over North America including Seattle, Sacramento, Boston, Calgary, Montreal, etc.. Not only did they gain experience in playing Hana Hachijo, but I believe they gained many new friendships within the taiko community.
Thank you Yuta Kato, principal at LATI, for being the assistant/interpreter! And thank you, participants! We hope to see you again somewhere!
Chieko Kojiima, Eiichi Saito “LATI 3-Day Intensive Workshops”
Kodo’s “Taiko Clinic” at Tokai City Bunka Center Hall on May 24
On May 24, we had Kodo’s Taiko Clinic workshops at Tokai City Bunka Center Hall in Aichi Prefecture.
Kenta Nakagome led the basics session in the morning. The participants were able to experience something very important to the Kodo members: ippatsu uchi, which means singular beats of the drum. A series of single sounds becomes a song, so he let the participants feel how big the sound gets when they relax their bodies to drum.
Mitsuru Ishizuka led the practical session in the afternoon, which focused on playing taiko as an ensemble. The participants were individuals who gathered for the workshop, but by following the shouts that Mitsuru used to lead them, their sound united and turned into a feel good rhythm.