“Excited to Share ‘Michi’ with You!” by Yuichiro Funabashi

It’s April and in Japan that means the start of a new business and school year. I’m sure many of you have had a fresh start in a new environment this month.

We’ve recently finished our North America “Evolution” tour and Interactive Performances in Japan and returned to Sado Island. Right now, we are busy preparing for our upcoming tours and concerts this spring, as well as future works.

From May, we’re going to be touring with “Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Michi” throughout Japan for the rest of the year.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

It’s going to be a soul-stirring, invigorating two-hour program featuring Kodo standards such as Monochrome, Miyake, O-daiko, and Yatai-bayashi. As director, I’ve also included some of my favorite classics like The Hunted and HITOTSU, and we’ve created some brand new numbers, too!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We’ve reworked and refined the content since last year, and we are already looking forward to seeing it evolve with each performance on tour.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The cast ranges from senior to junior Kodo members who all bring their own unique sound and energy to the stage. I really hope you’ll come along to see “Michi” at one of the many theaters on our tour to experience this rousing program firsthand.

Photo: Erika Ueda

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Michi” Japan Tour

Schedule

“OK!!!” by Yuta Kimura

We carry out detailed checks before each performance.
We check the position of our equipment, our drumsticks, the tuning of the drums, and so on…
When everything is in position, we say “Pre-Set OK!”

Photo: Yuta Kimura

One of the things I really like about Kodo since entering the group is that everyone handles the drums with a great deal of care.

Everyone pays attention to the condition of the skins, of course, but Kodo performers also wipe the drums before the performance so they look beautiful when we take the stage.

Photo: Yuta KimuraOne of the more senior members once told me, “Be prepared for anything that could possibly happen.”

No matter where I am, what kind of venue, or who is coming to watch us perform, one thing is constant: I make sure I always do a thorough pre-performance check so I can deliver my best performance.

Photo: Yuta Kimura

We still have many places left to visit on our North America tour.

We want our sentiments to reach the audience through our sound.
With that in mind, we carefully prepare for every performance until we can say with confidence:
“Pre-set OK!!!”

 

Photo: Yuki Hirata

 


 

Coming Up Next:

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


 

“Extra Challenges” by Issei Kohira

Our “Evolution” North America Tour is gradually nearing its end. We are all doing well.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

This time, I have the added challenges of playing chappa (cymbals) and bamboo flutes on stage, as well as taiko.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Considering baseball player Shohei Otani is called a two-way player for pitching and fielding, perhaps I’m a three-way player?
It sounds presumptuous for me to say that, but I am grateful for this rare opportunity.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

I have a lot to work on for each different instrument, and I need to work on my mindset and how I use my body, too. I don’t want to tackle any of these challenges half-heartedly. As I focus on each challenge, I am acutely aware that becoming a good all-rounder is not an easy goal.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

However, I do have feelings of fulfillment. No matter what instrument I play, I will keep doing my best each day and hope I can connect with our audiences.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We’re into the second half of our tour now. Along with my energetic, smiling colleagues, I’ll continue to give it my all as we share Kodo’s sound with the people of North America.

I’ll keep doing my best!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

 

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


“Spending Time with Young American Taiko Players” by Yuki Hirata

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

I met three sixteen-year-old taiko players who were born and raised in the USA.

They first encountered taiko through a community group when they were in elementary school.
They love taiko and all still play.

These young US taiko players were so interested to meet taiko players from Japan.
They asked us questions like:

“When and how did you get into playing taiko?”
“What kind of practice do you do?”
“Do you compose songs?”
“The way you use your body to play frisbee is similar to how you use it to play taiko, don’t you think? (This one was from a frisbee player)

Photo: Yui KamiyaAt our exchange event

Most of our one and a half hour chat was a barrage of questions from them.

When I had the chance, I asked them, “What is it about taiko that you like?”
One of them answered, “The sound of our taiko makes the audience smile and feel happy. How cool is that? That makes me really happy. Also, I like the vibrations you feel in your body when you play.”

Then the three of them said, “Most of all, playing taiko is fun!”

Seeing them talking happily about taiko with a sparkle in their eyes reminded me that all taiko players have something important in common: that feeling of enjoyment when we play.
Taiko is fun!

Photo: Koji MiyagiWorkshop in Boulder, Colorado

The appeal of taiko has reached places far away from Japan.
In completely different environments, taiko players around the world are hooked on the same instruments as us.
We’re all crazy about taiko.

Photo: Yui KamiyaAt an exchange event

The taiko community is expanding around the world.
Let’s connect more and more, and make the good vibrations of taiko reach further and further.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

 

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


“Martin’s Birthday” by Tomoe Miura

Feb. 16, 2019

Happy Birthday, Martin!

Hello from Los Angeles in chilly North America!

We’ve been enjoying ourselves here, eating our first Japanese food in a while in Little Tokyo, going shopping, and so on.

Photo: Koji Miyagi

Free time for practice and warm ups at Walt Disney Concert Hall 

In L.A., we performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall on the birthday of our indispensable technical director Martin. His birthday has become a regular pre-Valentine’s Day event on our foreign tours!

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Martin has been touring outside Japan with Kodo since 2007. As our technical director, Martin gives directions to the staff at each theater and operates our lightning. He is an essential member of our team.

This year, my fellow cast member Issei was in charge of organizing Martin’s birthday surprise. He started planning the surprise from about a week before and liaised with our tour managers in preparation for the big day.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Issei, the surprise organizer, studying hard to memorize his lines in English.

At the end of the rehearsal at Walt Disney Concert Hall, he arranged for there to be a request to rehearse one piece, Yuyami, again. Backstage, there would be a cake covered with strawberries, Martin’s favorite, and the staff would light all the candles quickly when they heard the cue. (We got special permission from the venue to use candles inside the venue.)

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

When the rehearsal ended, Martin looked like he was heading backstage so one of the managers frantically stopped him, saying they needed to run through a certain piece one more time. The performers quickly did the necessary set change on stage. Martin changed the lighting to the setting for Yuyami, and it was time for the surprise to begin!

▼ If you’d like to listen to Yuyami, click play below.

Usually performers with flutes would enter for stage left and right, but this time the flutes came in from stage left and a cake with flickering candles appeared from stage right. Issei recited a birthday message for Martin to the music of Yuyami. At the end of his speech, he gave a cue and all the cast members sang “Happy Birthday” together.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

We gave Martin a card signed by all of us. The surprise was a big success! I could tell by the lovely smile on Martin’s face.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Happy Birthday, Martin! Thank you for everything.
We look forward to the rest of the tour with you!

Yuyami is featured on Kodo album “Kaden”
Available from Kodo Online Store

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



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