Takao Aoki
President, Kitamaesen Co., Ltd.

青木孝夫

Taiko has limitless possibilities.
The Kodo Group also has something limitless: goals. When you are on a journey and you traverse a peak, you see the next peak. Without time to reflect or draw breath, you start climbing again. Perhaps the path we continue to tread is leading us towards goals we will never reach. However, I think what’s important is that we keep moving forward maintaining a broad perspective, natural presence, and pure heart.

Throughout history, humans have been powerless in the face of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and floods. Fear and reverence of nature has led people to communicate with the gods through performing arts. It’s a means for people to offer gratitude and prayers to the gods and show their respect for nature. I think the spiritual bond between the human world and natural world is very important.

Changes in our daily lifestyle and environment transform performing arts culture. I think it is absolutely essential for people involved in creative activities to carefully note the past lifestyle and culture that many Japanese people have almost completely forgotten. We need to consider the important elements of our way of life that have been or will be left behind in the shadows of progress. The ways of the past will surely pave the way towards the future.

The creative activities of the Kodo Group are not focused on wealth or self interest. Through our activities, I hope we can continue to convey our view of life: our sense of joy from doing our best for others with purity, modesty, and empathy.

To touch the hearts of the audience, the drummer doesn’t simply thrust their ideas upon the audience. Instead, I think it’s important for them to forget themself and become something greater. When the drummer sets themselves aside and becomes at one with the natural world, their spirit allows the imaginations in the audience to expand, connecting that world to this world and heaven to earth. Creating harmony with the natural world is key for the Japanese sense of beauty.

We want to be people who touch people’s hearts. As a group, we will continue striving to remain focused on forging bonds and touching people’s hearts.

I sincerely ask for your continued support throughout the year ahead.

Takao Aoki
President
Kitamaesen Co., Ltd.

February 2019

Yuichiro Funabashi
Leader, Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble

船橋裕一郎

As we enter a new year, 2019, I would like to express my gratitude once more for all the support we received throughout the past year, which enabled our wide-ranging activities. Thank you very much.

Here on Sado Island, we are now in the middle of a long winter season. For people like me who were born and raised in warmer areas such as Kanto, Sado’s harsh winter of blizzards, surging waves, and thunderstorms, dotted with rare periods of sun, is rather bewildering. However, as time goes by, we are moved more and more by the strong sensation we gain here of the turning seasons. We feel the joy of spring’s arrival and the power of life springing forth. We experience the workings of nature that take us from summer through autumn and back into winter. We are constantly studying about the natural features that lie behind the history and culture, we continue to train, and we set off on our travels. I feel a strong sense of gratitude for this cycle and the land and people who live here that teach us so much.

This year begins with our North America “Evolution” tour, followed by domestic tours for our School Workshop Performances and “Kodo One Earth Tour: Michi,” which run from spring through until year end. In summer, we will return to Asakusa Public Hall in Tokyo for our annual concert series with a new work, “Iki.” On Sado Island, we look forward to expanding our local activities by adding Interactive Performances and tour production concerts to our regular favorites: the Golden Week Shukunegi Performance Series and performances and more at Earth Celebration.

Furthermore, we will wrap up our year with a commemorative performance that celebrates Kodo Distinguished Member Chieko Kojima. Kojima has an active solo career that takes her all over Japan and around the world. A true pioneer who has paved the way for female taiko performers, creating numerous pieces for the stage, Kojima continues to share the wonders of regional performing arts with the next generation through her performances on the Kodo stage. For this concert, we plan to create a production featuring Kojima and Kodo’s newest members. We look forward to sharing it with you all!

As we expand our expression on stage, we also want to tackle new challenges off stage. In the hopes of connecting with more people on a deeper level, we are going to pour more energy into delivering workshops and sharing and streaming new music. We hope that our new endeavors will encourage more people to come along to see Kodo perform live on stage.

Kodo has spent almost two decades learning countless things about performing arts from Kabuki luminary Tamasaburo Bando.

He has taught us to be meticulous about the sound we share with our audience and the importance of maintaining rehearsal time and the appropriate place for our training. Above all, he has taught us to value the time we have right now and to remain humble, never satisfied with the status quo. If we don’t take those teachings to heart, I think it will be difficult for Kodo to continue its activities in our rapidly changing modern society.

Of course, noble ideals and goals are essential. With that in mind every day, we will continue to focus on the taiko and instruments before us, embrace the teachings handed down by our predecessors, and devote ourselves to sharing performances and sound that delight our audiences.

I sincerely hope that this year is a good year for all of you. I kindly ask for your unwavering support and encouragement throughout the year ahead.

Yuichiro Funabashi
Leader
Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble

February 2019

Minoru Ikarashi
Chairperson, Kodo Cultural Foundation

Minoru Ikarashi

Happy New Year! I sincerely hope that the year ahead is filled with happiness for you all.

Since last year, a substantial goal of Kodo Cultural Foundation has been to turn the power of taiko into power for communities. For us, that means harnessing the limitless possibilities of taiko to give back to the community. This project has three main branches.

Firstly, we have “Exadon,” a taiko program that is currently one of our Foundation’s main focuses. The name of this project is a coined word that combines “exercise, “Sado,” and the sound when you beat a taiko drum: “don.” Last year, we carried out experimental studies and trial sessions of this relatively new program. Japanese society faces numerous social issues due to its rapidly decreasing birthrate and aging population. Two key concerns are how to lengthen healthy life expectancy and how to enable social participation for people of all abilities. By taking part in Exadon, participants can enjoy playing taiko, gain benefits from the effects of exercise and music, and actively communicate with others. This program is designed to help prevent dementia and to increase positivity, and already we are noticing great results.

Secondly, we have started offering taiko workshops for corporate training as a concrete way to turn the power of taiko into power for organizations. Taiko has the power to encourage organizations and to improve communication, so we believe it is an effective tool for team building. In recent years, we have seen this first-hand through our work on initiatives such as “Mirai no Gakko” (School of the Future), which use taiko to help organisations to grow in new ways.

Thirdly, I want our annual event Earth Celebration to grow even more as a forum for encouraging regional development and international exchange. At the festival, I also want to see active changes to improve energy conservation, decrease the amount of trash and recycling created, and make the event prioritize consumption of local products.

In recent years, many corporations, administrative bodies, and communities have adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which the UN aims to reach by 2030. This response demonstrates how serious the environmental situation has become on a global scale.

I also want Kodo Cultural Foundation to introduce these goals to its activities and work with many people to tackle global issues. I sincerely hope you will join us on this mission.

Minoru Ikarashi
Chairperson
Kodo Cultural Foundation

February 2019