“Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi 2022” by Jun Jidai

Kodo’s annual performances in Shukunegi first began in 2012, back when I was still a Kodo apprentice. The apprentices all joined the Kodo members, staff, and Shukunegi locals to get ready for the performances and it felt like creating something together from square one: spring cleaning the hall, hanging the back drops, cutting down bamboo and using it to put up the concert flags.

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi OkamotoKodo now has a decade’s worth of experiences at this place, and I feel so happy that we’re back here again this year.

There is so much going on right now all over the world, and here in Japan. It feels like we’re living our usual daily lives with chaos either close by, or all around us.

It makes me think…what can we do as taiko players?
What should artists share in times like these?

Tomorrow is uncertain, but I’ve made it to tomorrow each day thus far. So I want to keep creating and expressing myself as an artist, giving my all each day.

Photo: Erika

I want to express what it means to be born in this era, and what I’m doing with Kodo now.

I want to turn that into power that helps get us all through to “tomorrow” again.

I want to take all the moments when I laugh and feel excited and deeply moved, and pack them all into this performance with along with my gratitude.

I sincerely hope that our performances bring the joy of spring and the sounds of Shukunegi to many people.

Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi (2022)

Apr 29 (Fri)–May 7 (Sat), 2022 Shukunegi Community Hall, Ogi Peninsula, Sado Island, Niigata

Dates & Times

  • Apr 29 (Fri) 14:30 [O-daiko: Yoshikazu Fujimoto]
  • Apr 30 (Sat) 11:00 [O-daiko: Tomohiro Mitome]
  • Apr 30 (Sat) 14:30 [O-daiko: Yoshikazu Fujimoto]
  • May 1 (Sun) 11:00 [O-daiko: Tomohiro Mitome]
  • May 2 (Mon) DARK
  • May 3 (Tue) 14:30 [O-daiko: Yoshikazu Fujimoto]
  • May 4 (Wed) 11:00 [O-daiko: Tomohiro Mitome]
  • May 4 (Wed) 14:30 [O-daiko: Yoshikazu Fujimoto]
  • May 5 (Thu) 11:00 [O-daiko: Tomohiro Mitome]
  • May 6 (Fri) DARK
  • May 7 (Sat) 11:00 [O-daiko: Yoshikazu Fujimoto]
  • May 7 (Sat) 14:30 [O-daiko: Tomohiro Mitome]

Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi (2022)

“The Release of Our New Album ‘Kizashi'” by Yuta Sumiyoshi

It’s been one year today since Takashi Akamine passed away.

Most of the times I met up with Takashi were when I was on tour overseas with Kodo. With the pandemic and other things going on, I haven’t been able to go overseas for quite a while. So even now, I feel like he’s going to be there waiting for me at the airport when I travel next.

We were right in the middle of recording last year when we heard about Takashi’s illness. The album we were making then is the one we are releasing today: Kizashi.

This time last year, we had way less performances. We were holed up at Kodo Village, feeling worried and wondering what we could do while we couldn’t tour. So we filled our days with trial and error—composing, playing new pieces, and recording them.
Takashi was the first one to sense the possibilities in recording our own sound and sharing it with the world.

In 2020, Kodo had started talks with Pitch & Sync, a London-based creative agency, about new music collaborations. Takashi was Kodo’s point of contact with Pitch & Sync from the very first meeting, and we were also working on that project at this time last year.

Every time we came up with a new track, I’d get a message from Takashi. His words radiated with passion and kindness, and I could hear his signature way of storytelling as I read. He would always end with: “I’m looking forward to what’s next, too.”

Our new album, Kizashi, is the first Kodo album ever to be recorded entirely by Kodo performers. We had some issues with our planning, and there was a lot of trouble along the way. We had to work hard together to get this project over the hurdles and past the finish line.

I want to keep exploring the many possibilities that Takashi sensed for Kodo. Kizashi means an omen or sign, and this album is a sign of what’s next. So we decided to release it today, on the anniversary of Takashi’s death.

We dedicate this album to Takashi Akamine.
As we release it from Sado Island to the world, we hope and pray this music reaches him, too.

Yuta Sumiyoshi

Translator’s Note: In the original Japanese version, Yuta calls Takashi Akamine “Akamine-san” (Mr. Akamine) throughout. Because it sounds too formal in English, the translator has changed it to “Takashi,” knowing that is what Takashi preferred in English.

Listen to Kizashi

“In Memory of Takashi Akamine” by Yasuko Homma

[Obituary] Kodo Staff Member Takashi Akamine

“Sharing Taiko. Bonding Through Taiko.” by Taiyo Onoda

Almost a year has passed since the launch of Kodo Taiko School. This new initiative is an online school where Kodo performers share the skills and knowledge the ensemble has developed over the years. We conducted a trial course with Cohort 0 in 2021, and currently we are heading into the final lessons of the Cohort 1 course.

I initially felt out of place when I found myself in a teaching position at this early stage of my performing career. Already, I can honestly say that facilitating these courses has become one of the richest learning experiences of my lifetime.

When the trial course began, it took a lot of time and effort for the Kodo Taiko School instructors, who are all Kodo performers, to come up with clear ways to explain what we experienced and gained through our training at Kodo Apprentice Centre. It’s challenging to put into words what we learned back then, and what we think and feel as performers now. Kodo doesn’t have a uniform kata (style of taiko playing, or set form), which made this challenge even more complex. At Kodo, we all strive to create the best sound possible. We acknowledge that everyone’s body is different, so we always keep in mind that how we play differs from person to person.

The instructor team approached this particular challenge by surveying a number of Kodo performers, and noting the similarities between us. In particular, we sought guidance from Eiichi Saito, the pioneer of Kodo-style workshops, and from Tomohiro Mitome, who frequently teaches taiko players within Kodo and from other teams. We also talked to various guest instructors who teach at Kodo Apprentice Centre and asked for their advice.

Our conclusion was that the Kodo method could be defined as the act of playing taiko in the most natural state possible. As Kodo members, it’s an individual quest to find our most natural state and to create the best sound possible. We strive to do that through our daily training. 

Kodo Taiko School is a place where students can join us on that journey. Every lesson is led by a Kodo performer who explains things in their own unique way. Because we teach a course as a team, you get insight into a range of individual perspectives and approaches, all with the same end goal—achieving a natural state to create optimal sound. I think that’s one of the things that enriches our courses.

Teaching, in my own words.

I am a member of the instructing team, and I also double as an English interpreter for the lessons because I grew up in the United States. But I often struggle to find the right words. It’s hard to interpret Japanese terms and concepts that don’t have literal English translations, or will not make sense in English in a particular context. Especially on the spot.

For example, the first roadblock that every Japanese-English interpreter probably bumps into is “Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.” This common Japanese greeting can be literally translated into “best regards,” but in certain situations, it’ll mean “please share your knowledge and advice with us,” or “kindly do a favor for me,” or something else. 

Here’s another example. In Japanese, futokoro is a word that explains the space in front of your chest. But it’s more than a word; it’s a concept that changes depending on the activity you’re doing. So it’s different for martial arts, tea ceremony, and taiko. Trying to explain it in one word in English isn’t possible. I needed way more words each time. 

(Side Note: I wrote this blog in Japanese first without considering the difficulty of translating into English. The struggle is real…)

With each passing week, I learned how to explain things better. Interpreting for the senior members allowed me to process their thoughts in my mind twice; once in Japanese and again while I was searching for the right English. While listening to their explanations, I drew on my own knowledge and experiences to find the words I needed.

Interpreting for Cohort 0 Guest Instructor Eiichi Saito

Interpreting for Cohort 1 Guest Instructor Tomohiro Mitome as he explains how to apply the fundamentals of taiko playing to Odaiko (big drum) playing.

But there were still things that I just couldn’t explain concisely. Not just while I was interpreting, but when I was teaching as well. I eventually realized that I had trouble explaining certain concepts, simply because I didn’t know enough about them. A wise man once said, “if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This quote hit home. Lesson learned.

With Instructor Team Leader Yoshie Abe. We’re working hard to forge meaningful connections with all the students.

With Shogo Komatsuzaki, talking about physical conditioning. At Kodo Taiko School, all the instructors perform on the Kodo stage, so you get to hear practical advice from a performer’s point of view.

For me, getting to experience how the senior members approach and explain this art form firsthand is really inspiring. When I interpret for my fellow instructors, it feels like a VIP experience because I get the chance to go inside their head and take a peek at their way of life, through their eyes. I feel so lucky to have this chance.

This chance comes with a sense of responsibility. I believe it is my duty to share their experience as accurately as possible with taiko enthusiasts all around the world. 

Yoshie Abe (left) and Jun Jidai (right) will be Cohort 2 instructors, too. Join them and participants from around the world! Cohort 2 starts in May 2022.

Cohort 2 of Kodo Taiko School will begin in May 2022. During this course, I am scheduled to be touring Japan, so I won’t be able to participate in the same way as I have to date. Instead, I’ll be on stage, giving it my all and making most of what I learned through Cohort 0 & 1. 

Kodo Taiko School alumni: I hope you’ll come to the theater so we can meet up in person. If you can join us, see you soon!
Kodo Taiko School future students: It will be one of the richest taiko experiences of your life, guaranteed. I’m looking forward to hearing how you get on!

 

 

Kodo Taiko School – Online Information Sessions (Pre-Cohort 2)

Kodo Taiko School Cohort 2

Kodo Taiko School

“Earth Celebration 2021 Crowdfunding Campaign Underway Now!” by Yasuko Homma

Thank you very much to everyone who tuned to the live stream of the EC 2021 Harbour Concerts on ZAIKO! While we couldn’t welcome anyone to attend in-person, we were so happy to welcome so many of you online.

As you can imagine, it’s been very challenging holding the festival during the pandemic. More than ever, Earth Celebration needs your support to be able to continue into the future. EC also wanted to welcome more people to watch the 2021 concerts, so Kodo Cultural Foundation launched a crowdfunding campaign on EC’s behalf to tick both of these boxes.

In early August, when EC Committee made the decision to change the concerts from hybrid to online only, they realized that refunding all the in-person tickets was going to seriously impact EC moving forward. So they made the sudden decision to launch a crowdfunding page, and we worked hard to get it ready in time… but we were only able to launch it the night before on Aug. 20.

Five days after the campaign began, EC had already received over 1,000,000 yen in donations. Thank you so much, everyone!

This year was the 34th EC. Over the years, there have been many legendary standout moments and wonderful performances. I think the 2021 Harbour Concerts will go down in history as outstanding performances within that long history.

If you didn’t get to watch the performances on ZAIKO, that’s a real shame. We really want as many people as possible to enjoy the concerts, so we decided to add a different way of watching the archive footage as a crowdfunding perk.

If you choose the video perk, you will receive a link to watch the concert video online for one month. I’m sure some of you who watched the concerts on ZAIKO want to see them again, too.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Akio Tsumura from Miyake-jima Geino Doshi-kai and Tomohiro Mitome in “Kiseki—Tomohiro Mitome 30 Years with Kodo Commemorative Performance” on Aug. 21, 2021

Shuichi Hidano and Tomohiro Mitome in “Kiseki—Tomohiro Mitome 30 Years with Kodo Commemorative Performance” on Aug. 21, 2021

From “Kodo All-Star Special Performance” on Aug. 22, 2021

 

How will the donation be used?

The target amount of 2,000,000 yen will be used to cover the shortfall in labor costs for production, and streaming distribution. After deducting necessary expenses such as credit card processing fees, Kodo Cultural Foundation will deposit the amount to the Earth Celebration Executive Committee.

 

Crowdfunding Campaign Page

Please support Earth Celebration 2021!

■ Crowdfunding Target: 2,000,000 yen
■ Campaign Ends: Sep. 10 (Fri) JST

Delivery Schedule for Campaign Perks

  • Thank you video/ Harbour Concert video(s):
    Emails with video links will start being sent out in early September. (Video will be available until Oct. 15)
  • T-shirts:
    [In Japan] Will be delivered by courier during September.
    [Overseas] Will be shipped from Japan by EMS in September.
  • Signed EC posters:
    Will be shipped in mid-September.

Your perks will be sent as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience!

#kodofebfilmfest

Enjoy Kodo at your place throughout February via a range of streaming platforms!

This month, there’s an exclusive lineup of online content on offer hosted by organizations in Japan and abroad.
We hope you’ll enjoy these Kodo performances and talks at your place!
Spread the word and share your watch party pictures and feedback with us using this hashtag:

#kodofebfilmfest

・Feb. 3–Mar. 7: Watch Kodo “Tsuzumi” on Selected Japanese Streaming Services in February –Pay to view/Kodo Performance (3-part)
・Feb. 5–Feb. 28: New Audiovisual Work by Filmmaker Toshiaki Toyoda “Shiver” by Ettō—Featuring Koshiro Hino and Kodo —Pay to view/Collaborative Performance
・From Feb. 13 for 72 hours: Kodo at Duke Performances Virtual Concert Series: The Show Must Go Online! —Pay to view/Kodo Performance
・All February: Kodo Heartbeat Radio episodes available on YouTube —Free to view/Japanese talk shows
・All February: Japan Live Yell Project—Niigata Prefectural Culture Festival Special Talk Series Part 3–6 (Part 1, Part 2 out now!)—Free to view/Japanese talk shows

 

Coming Up in Japan!

Kodo 40th Anniversary Concert Series
Kodo One Earth Tour 2021: Tsuzumi
Feel the reverberations of heaven and earth in harmony.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
May–July 2021 Tour Information in English coming soon.


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