“School Performances in North America During the ‘Evolution’ Tour” by Jun Jidai

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

After our opening night in Las Vegas, we had back-to-back performances for three days in Berkeley, California.

On the first two days, we performed “Evolution.” Then on Day 3, we changed into our indigo-blue Kodo costumes and gave a completely different performance at the same theater: a program especially for school children.

The audience was made up of almost 2000 students from local schools, elementary through high school. Eight cast members from “Evolution” delivered this school performance: Kengo Watanabe, Ryoma Tsurumi, Tomoe Miura, Issei Kohira, Yuta Kimura, Chihiro Watanabe, Taiyo Onoda, and I.

It was a really exciting experience for only eight of us to give a performance in such a massive hall!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

During our school performances, we take turns speaking to the audience during the program. Because we’re in the USA, that meant whenever we were the MC, we had to speak in English. We all had the extra challenge of giving our self introductions in English, too.

It’s my first time giving School Performances overseas. My goal is to communicate with our audiences through taiko, fostering meaningful exchange beyond language and culture.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We also have School Performances in Hanover, Amherst, Burlington during this tour. We’ll give our all to this challenge alongside our theater performances.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” North America Tour


“Voices” by Taiyo Onoda

Photo: Eri uchida

Our 2019 North American tour’s second and third shows were held at Berkeley, a city close to my heart.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

Many, many friends and family came to support me, since it’s close to my hometown San Francisco and my alma mater. Both shows, I got caught off guard by the amount of cheers I got during the curtain call, and I got a bit teary, too.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Like the performance I appeared in last November, it is the most nerve-wracking experience to perform in front of a home crowd. The more I think about the people that know me, the more I pressure myself to show how I’ve grown. However, this time I was able to let go of that thought and be as natural as possible. I aimed to be myself, believing that I’ve grown.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The tour has just begun. Many challenges will surely arise, but I’ll take them all on and move forward, step by step. I’ve received the energy to do so from the voices of my friends and family.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Yui Kamiya

Taiyo Onoda surrounded by members of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, San Jose Taiko, and his family.

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” North America Tour

Happy New Year

New Year’s Greeting from Kodo Ensemble Leader
Yuichiro Funabashi

Another new year has begun.
As 2019 starts, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your warm support that enabled our wide range of fulfilling work over the past twelve months.

We kicked off 2018 with the “Evolution” Europe Tour, then visited our 50th country to date: Egypt. In Japan, Kodo toured nationwide with “Michi,” performed at NHK Hall in a new collaboration with vocaloid Hatsune Miku, and fired up the main stage on Day 3 of Fuji Rock Festival ’18.

One of the year’s highlights was performing live music for new Kabuki work “Yugen” starring Tamasaburo Bando at Tokyo’s iconic Kabukiza Theatre. This month-long experience was a precious opportunity for us all.

2018 also marked a noticeable shift towards younger Kodo performers taking the creative reigns. We saw the directorial debut of Yuta Sumiyoshi with “MEGURU,” which premiered in November. Its inaugural tour in Japan ended on a high note with five days of concerts in Tokyo at Bunkyo Civic Hall. “Kodo Next Generation,” directed by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga, ventured abroad for the first time for a summer series at Theatre du Soleil in Paris, France. Back at home, new School Workshop Performance and Kodo Interactive Performance programmes directed by Jun Jidai delighted school children and general audiences nationwide. These new directors from within the Kodo ensemble showed us dynamic power and their own unique flair, leaving us with a sense of Kodo’s future in their capable hands.

At the end of 2018, we all came together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kodo’s Yoshikazu Fujimoto’s taiko performance career with commemorative concert “Taiko Warabe Gojunen.” I was deeply moved on this special occasion, where I am sure we all felt the magnitude of Yoshikazu’s history firsthand, reinforced by guest performances by Iwasaki Onikenbai and Wachi Daiko Hozonkai that reminded us of the power and splendor of performing arts.

In 2019, we plan to enrich not only our performance activities but also to pour more energy into workshops. We’re also going to be creating and sharing new music and focusing on fostering broader, deeper activities that bring our group closer to our audiences. We are working on new initiatives that we hope will bring even more people to theaters to enjoy taiko with Kodo.

Kodo remains dedicated to our dear home of Sado Island, one of the reasons we are passionate about our annual, deep-rooted local events Earth Celebration and the Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi. I hope we can expand our activities on Sado to include more tour productions, school performances, and workshops. We always craft sound and rehearse at Kodo Village before setting off on tour: Sado Island is where each journey starts for Kodo. This year I want us all to hold a renewed awareness of that fact.

Of course, you could say the real starting point for each Kodo performer is our apprentice Centre on Sado. It’s an precious environment where each individual has their eye on one main goal, training alongside their comrades, living an intense, communal lifestyle. This year, I want us each to think about our time at Kodo Apprentice Centre and reflect on the unique experiences we all had there, which were only possible by living and training at this marvellous place. I want us to share our experiences far and wide through increased exchange, both face to face and via social media.

None of our diverse activities leads us down the easiest path. I want us to keep tackling each challenge carefully and sincerely as we seek even better sound and create performances brimming with joy.

I sincerely hope that this year will be another great year for you all. I kindly ask for your continued support and encouragement throughout 2019.

Yuichiro Funabashi
January 2019

“My Last Tour” by Maya Minowa

We’re over halfway through our “MEGURU” Japan Tour.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

This is my last tour with Kodo.

Ten years has passed since my first encounter with Kodo, in Brazil in the spring of 2008…

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Since then I’ve made so many one-of-a-kind connections.

Photo: Taro Nishita

Maya as a Kodo apprentice

Photo: Taro Nishita

Maya as a Kodo apprentice

Photo: Taro Nishita

Maya as a Kodo apprentice

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto



Photo: Maiko Miyagawa

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

I am filled with gratitude to have found Kodo and for all the connections I’ve made ever since that first encounter. I’ll do my very best on stage for the remaining performances of the tour.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto Photo: Takashi Okamoto


MEGURU (Japan Tour)

Dec 15 (Sat), 2018 Chofu-shi Green Hall (Large Hall), Chofu, Tokyo
Dec 16 (Sun), 2018 Fussa Shimin Kaikan Main Hall (Mokusei Hall), Fussa, Tokyo
Dec 19 (Wed)–Dec 23 (Sun), 2018 Bunkyo Civic Hall (Main Hall), Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo


View this post on Instagram

#鼓童 #kodo 鼓童特別公演2018「道」 #蓑輪真弥 #カーテンコール #アンコール Kodo Special Concert 2018 “Michi” Japan Tour 公演スケジュール 7.14(土) 栃木県宇都宮市 栃木県総合文化センター 7.16(月) 山形県山形市 シベールアリーナ 7.18(水) 宮城県仙台市 東京エレクトロンホール宮城 7.20(金) 岩手県大船渡市 大船渡市民文化会館 リアスホール 7.26(木) 北海道札幌市 わくわくホリデーホール(札幌市民ホール) 7.29(日) 青森県八戸市 八戸市公会堂 8.01(水) 福島県いわき市 いわき芸術文化交流館(いわきアリオス)中劇場 8.03(金) 茨城県ひたちなか市 ひたちなか市文化会館大ホール 8.04(土) 群馬県伊勢崎市 伊勢崎市文化会館(大ホール) 8.05(日) 東京都小平市 ルネこだいら 大ホール https://www.kodo.or.jp/performance/performance_kodo/6786 鼓童 道 で検索! #taiko #太鼓 #drummers #wadaiko #drum #instagood #japaneseculture Photo by @takashi_okamoto on Instagram #kodomichi

A post shared by 太鼓芸能集団 鼓童 Kodo (@kodoheartbeat) on


“Taking Taiko to Schools” by Ryoma Tsurumi

Kodo’s new production “MEGURU” is on tour in Japan right now!

The director, Yuta Sumiyoshi, became a Kodo member not long before I did, so I am really interested to see how this work is received by all of you throughout Japan!

Meanwhile, I’m currently on tour giving Workshop Performances at schools throughout Japan. These concerts are mainly held as an opportunity for students to appreciate performing arts.

Our performances at schools differ from our theater performances in many ways. For one, there isn’t such a clear boundary between the stage and the audience in a gymnasium, and for two, we don’t have lighting to set the scene.

The biggest difference is the audience. At theaters, the audience is made up of people who are interested in our performance and paid to come along, but at schools, the audience is all children who are there as part of their lessons, with different feelings about being there.

I think the taiko concerts we give at schools are meaningful for various reasons.
Firstly, they provide an opportunity for children today to learn find out about a traditional Japanese instrument.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Secondly, the performances give children a chance to see people who have thrown themselves into doing something they love and pursued it as a career, which gives them an opportunity to consider their own future paths.

And for us, it’s an opportunity for new people to hear about Kodo.

These days, we can find out about anything we are interested in by searching online, but the downside to that is that if we don’t search for something, we don’t find out about it so easily. Also, we can watch and listen to anything we like on TV or online, so we tend to be easily satisfied by just watching screens.

No matter whether it’s acting, performing, or online shopping, seeing something via a screen and watching something live or in person is completely different.

I think that is particularly true for Japanese drums. No matter how good a surround system is, it simply can’t recreate nor convey the echo of live taiko resonating in your body.

That’s why we travel to schools to meet children, who wonder “What’s Kodo?” and “Is ‘taiko’ a festival?”, so they can see taiko firsthand and listen to it live. I think that is a really meaningful thing to do!

If the children who listen to our performance take an interest in taiko or our group, then I am really happy.

We are constantly striving to make each programme and performance better than ever. We always have that challenge on our minds.

But it doesn’t matter if we do something great or we do something bad if no one is interested enough to come and see what we’re doing. If no one is there to watch, we don’t know if something is good or bad.

So, we tour and perform all over Japan in the hopes of connecting with even one new person each day, hoping they be interested in what we do and want to see us again.

To our blog readers, I hope you’ll come and see Kodo perform, too! Each performance has a unique feel, so please come and enjoy yourself. I also encourage you to share your feedback and impressions with us afterwards.

OK, it’s a new day and another performance awaits!

School Workshop Performances


Kodo Blog Archive