“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”