“Announcing a New 0on Digital Release” by Yuta Sumiyoshi

Hi, everyone. It’s been cold here. I hope you’re keeping well.
I’m in Tokyo at Bunkyo Civic Hall for our end-of-year concert series, but I’ve found a gap during this busy week to let you know that I’ve just released a new digital solo album under Kodo’s experimental music label 0on.

We almost had no 0on (zero on, which literally translates as “zero sound”) releases in 2023, so I’m really glad I got this album out in time. Phew! No sound was not the intention.

“Hamon” is available exclusively on bandcamp to stream and buy.

I hope you enjoy it!

Yuta Sumiyoshi’s 2nd Home-Recorded Solo Album “Hamon”

The sounds of shinobue (transverse bamboo flutes), marimba, and an analog drum machine weave together to create original minimal music from diverse polyrhythms.
Feel-good attack coupled with seemingly endless loops of eclectic beats.
All stitched together by shinobue melodies.
Five tracks. All recorded at home. Digital release only.

“On the ferry heading towards Sado Island, I looked over the side of the boat, down into the water.
The hull created ripples as it cut through the sea.
There I saw regularity and randomness, coexisting within continuity.
Each simple repetition, layering over and over again, producing ripple after ripple.
I felt inspired to try to create a world of sound like that.”

“The ‘Matsurine’ Tour Starts Soon” by Kenta Nakagome

Our short tour with Miyake-jima Geino Doshi-kai is about to begin. We’re heading to Hachinohe, Yokohama, Iruma, and Sakura in Tochigi, so if you’re in the area, please come and see us!

Every time Kodo performs with Doshi-kai, we create new pieces and our collaboration evolves. We would love to share our performance with you.

One of the members of Doshi-kai, Kazuhiro Tsumura, trained at Kodo Apprentice Centre with me. We were in the same cohort. Last spring, we created a piece for the two of us to play on stage.

We’ve been honing it through each performance. When I perform with Kazuhiro, it feels like we are breathing in perfect sync. I realized he is a truly one-of-a-kind friend.

It’s been almost 20 years since we first met. Who’d have thought we’d get to tour together like this with our respective groups?

I never imagined it. We have both gained a lot of experience apart, honing our sound and performing over the years. Bringing that together to create new sound and expression has been really fun.

I hope we can perform at each other’s 60th birthday gigs one day.

Our “Matsurine” performance is about upholding traditions and expressing them with creativity and simplicity. We’re bringing this powerful festival to the theater. Don’t miss it!


Tour Schedule

*All links lead to Japanese pages.
Oct. 27 (Fri), 2023 Kodo Appearance “Matsurine 2023” (Hachinohe, Aomori)

Nov. 1 (Wed), 2023 Kodo Appearance “Matsurine 2023” (Yokohama, Kanagawa)

Nov. 4 (Sat), 2023 Kodo Appearance “Matsurine 2023” (Iruma, Saitama)

Nov. 5 (Sun), 2023 Kodo Appearance “Taiko Festival 2023” (Sakura, Tochigi)

“Kodo Taiko School ‘O-daiko Masterclass’ 2024” by Tomohiro Mitome

Hello, everyone! I’m Tomohiro Mitome from Kodo. As well a being a performing member, I’ve recently been named as a Kodo Skills Specialist.
I’m pleased to announce that the online course I led at Kodo Taiko School from January through March this year, O-daiko Masterclass, is going to be offered again during the same period in early 2024.

The course content is split into four phases.
In Phase 1, we work on the fundamentals of fuse-uchi (upright taiko playing).
In Phase 2, we apply those techniques to playing o-daiko (the big drum).
As we progress through Phases 3 and 4, we look at stance, using your body, learning to play set phrases, and bringing it all together as you work towards your own ideal form.

When it comes to taiko, there is a broad range of drumming methods and styles, aesthetics, and schools of thought. At Kodo Taiko School, I would like to share with you one of the ways of playing taiko that Kodo has developed over the years. I want to teach you what I know and hope to invigorate you. I’m also looking forward to learning throughout the course as we all talk and discuss taiko playing.
These online courses enable free-flowing communication, which makes them an opportunity for us all to grow and boost our skills together.


We know some people would like to take part, but they can’t because of the noise involved or their internet setup.
There’s no need to hesitate because you don’t have a drum at home, or somewhere to play one online. During the lessons, you can use a mat or cushion instead of a drum. Please feel free to get creative and make it work for you.
If you like, you’re also welcome to video yourself between lessons, playing the tasks I give you on a taiko drum. If you send me your video, I’ll give you some feedback and advice.


Some of my past class participants came to Sado Island this summer for Earth Celebration. We’d only be in touch online before, and I got to meet them in person at long last.
I also got to teach some of them in person, giving them private lessons playing an actual taiko. I was so happy to see the participants coming together at our festival and to see the progress they are making beyond the course.
To take the course, you do need to have some taiko playing experience already. But you don’t need to speak Japanese: We have an English interpreter for all our lessons.
I hope you’ll take this opportunity to join me and taiko players from around the world online to learn together and expand your own circle of taiko friends.
Who’s in?

The next O-daiko Masterclass starts in January 2024. It’s an 8-class course.
On Saturday November 18, we’re going to have Online Information Sessions. We hope to see you there!

Kodo Taiko School | O-daiko Masterclass with Tomohiro Mitome 2024

“Our Calling. My Calling.” by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

When I compose, I want my pieces to inspire people. To evoke real emotions.

I want them to paint vivid images, and I want them to resonate with the audience’s hearts.

When I direct, my goal is the same.


Photo: Takashi Okamoto


When I was offered the opportunity to direct a new Kodo production, I set out on a quest to find what it was that I wanted to portray.

I asked myself: What do I want the audience to feel?

As I dove deeper, the same question popped up over and over again.

“Why do we, Kodo, play taiko?”

It’s easy to say that playing taiko is a calling.

But why do I, or my colleagues, play taiko as a member of Kodo? I think that’s a completely different question.

Ever since the world came to a standstill in the Spring of 2020, there have been countless times where I’ve felt like we are incredibly powerless in the face of adversity.

I’ve questioned how much we are living up to the “One Earth” mantra, without taking strong stands and courses of action on various issues around the globe.

I’ve been reminded time and time again how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to play taiko for a living, and that we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

Over these past three years, I have been asking myself the same question: “What are we doing?”



It was during this time of self-loathing and trepidation that I had the opportunity to perform in front of Ukrainian war refugees in Estonia.

This turned out to be one the most memorable moments of my career; all I wished for in that moment was to give these people hope, to offer them a moment of peace.

It was a state of pure emotion and altruism; something I didn’t know I was capable of.

It’s hard to put in words, but it was at that moment I felt I wanted to create something that was truly altruistic in nature.

Something that can inspire people, something that can have a positive effect on the world.


Photo: Takashi Okamoto


Whether or not I’ll be able to achieve this is a question for another time. For now, I am extremely grateful I’ve been given the chance to try.

This is my calling.

Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga


Photo: Takashi Okamoto |Art Director: Hiroomi Hattori (COM Works)

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
Art Director: Hiroomi Hattori (COM Works)


Kodo “Calling” Japan Tour

Kodo “Calling” Japan Tour


Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga


Kenta Nakagome, Shogo Komatsuzaki, Yuta Sumiyoshi, Koki Miura, Mizuki Yoneyama, Masayasu Maeda, Seita Saegusa, Yuki Hirata, Kei Sadanari, Moe Niiyama, et al.
*Subject to change without notice.

Kodo Performance in Asakusa 2023 “Calling”


“Introducing Mr. Kazuhito Nomura, Minakuchi-bayashi Instructor at Kodo Apprentice Centre” by Tomoe Miura

I would like to introduce one of the Kodo Apprentice Centre instructors.

Kodo used to introduce the instructors who teach at Kodo Apprentice Centre in our Japanese newsletter and on our website, but we haven’t done so for the past few years. 

Our apprentices undertake their apprenticeship with their sights set on the Kodo stage. Naturally, they study taiko, but they also learn a wide range of regional performing arts and instruments other than taiko. That’s one of the great things about Kodo Apprentice Centre.

Today, I would like to introduce Mr. Kazuhito Nomura, the leader of Minakuchi Sosha, a Minakuchi-bayashi group. Minakuchi-bayashi is a traditional performing art upheld in Shiga Prefecture.



Kazuhito Nomura, Leader, Minakuchi-bayashi Minakuchi Sosha
Kodo Apprentice Centre instructor since 2015.

Kazuhito Nomura hails from Minakuchi in Koka City, Shiga Prefecture. He’s a Minakuchi local, born and bred. He loves Minakuchi-bayashi! The Nomura family have been living in Minakuchi for around 300 years. Koka City is famous for Koka Ninja. Minakuchi has prospered since medieval times as the center of Koka. The biggest festival in the Koka region is Minakuchi Hikiyama Matsuri, which has been held for 300 years. This festival has been designated as one of Shiga Prefecture’s intangible folk culture assets. During the festival, floats (hikiyama) are pulled around the town, and Minakuchi-bayashi is the musical accompaniment that is performed inside the floats.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading Mr. Nomura’s story and his introduction to Minakuchi-bayashi in his own words below.

“Minakuchi-bayashi has been around for some 300 years and I have loved it since I was a young child. My father and the men his age and his father’s age used to learn from the elders in the other float towns, and these Minakuchi-bayashi enthusiasts ended up creating Minakuchi-bayashi Minakuchi Sosha. They are crazy about
o-hayashi (festival musical accompaniments).
Minakuchi-bayashi, even though it was created three centuries ago, has good musical sensibilities and it’s a famous o-hayashi nationwide. For that reason, there are versions of Minakuchi-bayashi all over Japan and around the world that have deviated from the original Minakuchi-bayashi, and they have been arranged considerably. We want to do something about the erroneous versions of Minakuchi-bayashi out there, so that drives our activities.
We are striving to correctly hand down this tradition to people in Minakuchi and correctly disseminate it to people outside of Minakuchi. These two pillars are at the heart of our activities.”

My serendipitous first encounter with Kodo.

In 2011, Minakuchi Matsuri (Minakuchi Festival) was canceled out of consideration for the areas damaged by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. In 2012, it was my town Tenjin-machi’s turn to parade its float. But the float whose turn it was the year before didn’t get to do the usual dedication, so they took their turn in 2012 and my town’s turn was delayed until 2013.

It just so happened that Eri Uchida (a Kodo member at that time) had taken some time off in 2013 around Minakuchi Matsuri, which is held on April 20. She had gone back to her family home in Aichi Prefecture and called an acquaintance, saying “I’m going to Minakuchi Matsuri tomorrow, do you want to go with me?” and they came to our festival. The person she called happened to be an acquaintance of mine, too. They came all the way to Minakuchi to observe the festival and to meet me. And Eri was introduced to me, and that’s how our exchange began. If these coincidences hadn’t overlapped, I don’t think I would have crossed paths with Kodo.

The following year, in 2014, I went to Sado Island for the first time and I led Minakuchi-bayashi practice sessions at Kodo Village and Kodo Apprentice Centre. Since then, every year I have had the honor of visiting Kodo Apprentice Centre as an instructor.
Thanks to that first encounter. I also got to perform Minakuchi-bayashi at Earth Celebration with members of Kodo.

Mr. Nomura teaching at Kodo Apprentice Centre. The blackboard has rhythms on it, written as kuchi-shoga (verbal notation).

Minakuchi-bayashi performance at Earth Celebration 2016


Kuchi-shoga (verbal notation) is important for Minakuchi-bayashi.

When I teach, I use the oral traditional way that has been upheld in my hometown, Minakuchi, for 300 years.
It’s the method that Japanese people honed by using it to pass down traditional arts, long before Western music reached Japan. So I think that when I teach and share this art, the most important thing for me to do as a teacher is to use this method.

I’ve heard from researchers that amongst the various o-hayashi (festival accompaniments) nationwide that are still upheld today, Minakuchi-bayashi is very rare because it has complete kuchi-shoga (verbal notation, used to speak the rhythms) for all the instruments used to play it.
Minakuchi-bayashi is played using four instruments: o-daiko (big drum), ko-daiko (small drum, a.k.a. shime-daiko), surigane (metal percussion instrument, a.k.a. atarigane), and shinobue (bamboo flute). All of these instruments have kuchi-shoga for the entire melody line of Minakuchi-bayashi. That means that you can perform Minakuchi-bayashi just by speaking the rhythms.
I am convinced that the most important part of passing down Minakuchi-bayashi is kuchi-shoga, and playing each instrument with the exact same sounds as the kuchi-shoga is the long-cherished desire of this tradition.

For that reason, most of my instruction focuses on kuchi-shoga from start to finish: first learning the kuchi-shoga that have been passed down orally in Minakuchi for three centuries, then playing the sounds on each instrument exactly like the kuchi-shoga.
Upon that foundation, I teach how each of the sounds played on each instrument should sound, how they are related, and how they all fit together.
I strive to help people understand the blueprint of this 300-year-old o-hayashi (festival accompaniment music) and that an o-hayashi is a living thing.

Practice scenes at Kodo Apprentice Centre (Mr. Nomura and family with members of Kodo)


I want the apprentices to experience a range of Japanese music culture firsthand.

Most Kodo apprentices don’t know Minakuchi-bayashi before they enter Kodo Apprentice Centre, so they learn it here for the first time. I think a lot of the apprentices try to play it by converting it into the Western music scale in their heads, thinking of each note as one simple sound.

Japanese music, in particular o-hayashi (accompaniment music), has a lot of rather ambiguous parts, but there are also parts that you have to play in sync with one another, so you really have to concentrate a lot on those key points.

For example, with Minakuchi-bayashi, the taiko and the surigane (metal percussion) both play two parts: they play the ji-uchi (base) rhythm part and a part called tama-uchi that adds ma (space, or pauses). The ji-uchi part is difficult to capture using Western notation—you can’t split it into notes. So the tama-uchi that is designed to go with that complex ji-uchi is also hard to capture.

I think this shows the great musical sensibilities of Japanese people from way back.

I want the apprentices to ditch the fixed notion that all music can be written with the Western staff system, and for them to experience a broad range of Japanese music culture firsthand.
The apprentices will go on to be future Kodo members who will give performances all over Japan and around the world. I want them to share Minakuchi-bayashi, and traditional Japanese culture that is difficult to explain, with people all over the world.  

Mr. Nomura and family with Kodo apprentices, members, and staff at Kodo Apprentice Centre after the latest Minakuchi-bayashi practice sessions in March 2022.    

Next time, I will introduce Ms. Yumi Nogami, the voice trainer who teaches at Kodo Apprentice Centre.

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