“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!

Reflecting on Our 2022 Europe Tour

The finale of a special concert for refugees from Ukraine in Tallinn, Estonia, on Mar. 29, 2022

Takuro Susaki

The Europe tour cast and crew have returned to Japan.

It was a real joy for Kodo to have been able to welcome and delight so many people at the concert venues we visited across Europe. I sincerely thank everyone who attended our performances, along with the many people who gave their all to make our performances possible.

As many of you know, the cast and crew faced numerous difficulties touring during a pandemic, including situations like concert cancellations that had a huge, direct impact on our tour. In Estonia, we held a concert for refugees from Ukraine, where Kodo felt the close presence of a large number of people who had lost their homes and family due to war. In many ways, this tour shook the cast and crew to the core.

Now that they are safely home, we would like to use our blog as a space where the cast members of our Europe tour can unpack and share their thoughts. I want the entire Kodo Group to learn from their experiences and for us to explore and process their stories as a group. We will use these learnings together as we plan what we can and should do next.

Takuro Susaki
Kitamaesen Co., Ltd.


Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

We have just got back to Japan safely after our two-month-long Europe tour.

Two years ago, our Europe tour was suddenly cut short when the COVID-19 pandemic escalated: we had to return to Japan, canceling the remainder of our performances. This time, we were touring during times of pandemic and war. While both tours were memorable in different ways, our 2022 tour was an experience that really shook each and every one of us to our core.

Prior to leaving Japan, we did not know what to expect; how many people would show up to our performances? However, much to our surprise, we were welcomed by a large, warm audience everywhere we went.

Since the pandemic started, we Kodo members have felt conflicted about our purpose in this world. Performing in front of a full house audience and hearing the words “Thank you for coming,” was truly reassuring for all of us.

What can we do as taiko performers to make this world a better place?

Tackling this question has been Kodo’s mission for over 40 years, and this tour reminded all of us that we must once again ask ourselves this very question.

Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga
Kodo “Tsuzumi” 2022 Europe Tour Cast Member

“A Letter from Tsuneichi Miyamoto, and our One Earth Tour” by Takuro Susaki

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Kodo strives to achieve by touring under the banner “One Earth.”

Throughout history, people have worked hard to protect their honor, and that of their family. To seek a better life. To take on new challenges. To understand nature. Throughout history, people have also lived with the fear that people from other places might encroach on those things. Fear of losing what we have worked hard to get has continued to drive people to invade, pillage, and fight.

Every day, billions of people strive hard to get or keep hold of what they need. Sometimes, their actions lead to tug-of-wars, and tragic conflicts between nations. Every day, we are confronted by terrible situations and events in the news. We try to use logic and words to process what we see, but we feel a sense of helplessness. Often, that’s because these events do not stem from brand new issues: they were there for decades, centuries, and sometimes thousands of years, embedded in a region or in a recollection. In some cases, things were brewing in the shadows, or beneath the surface. Then suddenly things erupted again.

The other day, I came across a letter written in 1975 by Mr. Tsuneichi Miyamoto to the members of Kodo’s antecedent group, Sado no Kuni Ondekoza. It was Mr. Miyamoto’s reply to a letter that the Ondekoza members had sent to him after they finished back-to-back performances at Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris, France.


Here’s two excerpts from his letter:

“The world has become too convenient, and neither Sado nor Paris are far away anymore. But, we still feel a huge sense of distance, and remoteness, between us and people from different places. I think the most important thing for us to focus on now is getting rid of the sense of distance between the people on Earth.”

“I keep thinking about just how much work and effort are required to get rid of war. You are all playing taiko, so I think we must share the same hope.”

Unfortunately, 47 years on, that sense of distance between people from different places hasn’t disappeared. Travel and the flow of information have evolved, but that’s not enough. That sense of distance between people hasn’t changed. What can we do about that?

Billions of people lead their daily lives in similar ways, regardless of which country they call “home.” We don’t hear about all their hard work in the news. We don’t hear about their joy or their sorrow. But their efforts and their feelings are important because they shape our world. I think the feelings of all 7 billion people on Earth are more important to mankind than what is important to any one person or nation.

Festivals, performing arts, and music connect people. They delight people and make them smile. Perhaps arts and music can help melt away the fears we have about people from different places? By sharing arts and music, I think the people on this planet will come together as one, little by little.  

Kodo’s One Earth Tour began in 1984. Now, 38 years on, Kodo has just returned to Japan after a tour of nine countries in Europe. Despite facing many difficulties along the way, we completed that tour thanks to the support of many people. I am sincerely grateful that we could carry out this 2022 tour. I pray that this tour somehow brought us even fractionally closer to achieving our goal—One Earth. 

Kodo’s activities center around harnessing the resonant sound of taiko to foster empathy and a sense of community. I think our activities serve as a response to the letter our antecedent group received from Mr. Miyamoto 47 years ago. When faced with pandemics and conflict, we shall not be seized by fear. We will continue our activities, trusting that when people exchange smiles, and enjoy taiko and performing arts, it makes a positive difference here on Earth.

Tsuneichi Miyamoto
Folklorist, agricultural community mentor. Miyamoto greatly influenced the ideology of Sado no Kuni Ondekoza in its earliest phase. The knowledge and way of thinking he shared with the founders of Kodo remains at the basis of all of Kodo’s activities today. 

Photo: Radoslaw Kazmierczak

Call for Support

“In Memory of Takashi Akamine” by Yasuko Homma

This blog was posted in Japanese on May 5. Due to stretched resources, the English version had to wait until now.
We are very happy to share this blog with you in English at long last.

Our dear friend Takashi Akamine passed away on March 18. I’m sharing this blog post on May 5, the forty-ninth day after he passed away, which is a significant day in Buddhist mourning rituals. 

Takashi met Kodo in London during the first “One Earth Tour” in 1984. It was Hancho (Toshio Kawauchi) who noticed Takashi’s presence at the performance venue. Apparently, he said, “There was a Japanese person in the first row watching our performance with great excitement in his eyes.”

This is how Takashi himself recalls it.
“The first time I saw Kodo perform, I felt as if the sound of the taiko was dropping all the way down into the deepest part of my core with a resounding boom. As someone in a foreign country at the time, that sensation really jolted my identity. As soon as Yoshikazu got on stage and started beating the drums, the audience was drawn in at once. Even after O-daiko (the big drum solo) ended, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even applaud.” (From Inochi Moyashite, Tatakeyo. – 30 Years of Kodo)

Kazuaki Tomida, who was a Kodo member at that time and on that tour, recalls having closed his eyes when he was playing the shamisen at Covent Garden. When he finished playing, he opened his eyes, and Takashi was there.

In London, 1984 (Photo: Kazuaki Tomida)

Takashi liked Kodo and his desire to work with Kodo grew stronger. After the performance, he met Hancho, whose first words to Takashi were, “When can you start (work)?” 

Takashi came to Sado in January 1986.

At Kitatanoura Apprentice Centre, 1986 (Photo: Kazuaki Tomida)19

Hancho was managing the negotiations for international tours by himself, but the anticipation that Takashi’s addition to the team would strengthen his work was short-lived. On January 1, 1987, Hancho had an unfortunate accident during his holiday in the Philippines and passed away.

While the team was grappling with devastating grief, the departure date for the North America tour was approaching. 

The day before the tour was set to depart, Hancho’s funeral was held in his hometown, Tokyo. Takashi began his first job with Kodo as an overseas tour manager at a time when the survival of the group was on the line. 

During the 1987 One Earth Tour (Photos: Kazuaki Tomita)

From then on, Takashi was a tour manager for Kodo’s domestic and international tours. He also had a range of other roles, including serving as staff for Kodo workshops and looking after the international guest artists at Earth Celebration. This continued until 2008 when he left his position at Kodo due to personal reasons.

During the 1995 North America Tour (Photo: Yasukazu Kano)

In his role as the group’s international tour advisor from 2010 onwards, Takashi mainly supported Kodo’s overseas performance activities. Throughout his career, Takashi constantly fostered connections between people with great sincerity.

I took this opportunity after he passed away to re-read the words that Takashi wrote for Kodo’s newsletters. His personality and his profound love for Kodo were flowing through his words. Takashi had fostered precious connections with people all over the world. 

I’d like to share some extracts with you from the back issues of Kodo’s monthly newsletter.


The Children of Tampa  From the June 1988 Issue

The children gave me the opportunity to reconsider and reaffirm the sensibilities that adults have almost lost.
During the tour, when we were in Tampa, Florida, some elementary school students came to watch Kodo’s performance. When I saw them, I noticed that there were children with disabilities within the group, and they blended into the group very naturally. They were not given priority admission into the venue, nor were they the last to come in. They came in holding hands with their friends. The children without disabilities did not hold any weird prejudices against the children with disabilities. They just chatted happily away as they helped each other, and it looked like it was the most natural thing for them to do.

After the performance, a visually-impaired girl came forward. With her tiny arms, she hugged the taiko closely to her little chest and pressed her cheek against the drumhead. I was slightly surprised by this. Her action was courageous and cute, and she looked bold and full of life. To her, this was a compelling desire. Touching. And confirming. I could also empathise with her earnest expression of this flow of consciousness. And a boy who was looking down and smiling shyly, reached out his hand to ask for a hand shake. I felt that his action was not a reflection of logic, but rather of his sparkling sensibilities.

The children of Tampa made me wonder how anyone could ever say anything unkind about vulnerable people.

At a workshop held during the 1992 North America tour (Photo: Yasukazu Kano)

Holding Kodo Juku Overseas is Fun, Too! — Kodo Juku in Northern Ireland  From the December 1991 Issue

We conducted Kodo Juku in response to a request by a Japan Festival held in the UK.

The people who came from London had particularly high expectations, but we were able to match their enthusiasm with ours. That gave us a sense of reassurance somehow and we were able to run the workshops without feeling nervous. Afterwards, they even sent faxes to us on Sado to tell us they enjoyed it. Seeing their reaction after the experience, it seemed that the participants had a more fulfilling time than they expected. This delighted us, too.

What was so special about it? I think it was the human interaction. During performances, we always have a realm where there is a line separating the stage and the audience. We can’t speak to each other. But during the workshops, it’s fun because direct communication is possible. It really feels good. That was the biggest reason.

Kodo Juku in Northern Ireland, 1991

In a separate room, we also had a workshop using traditional Irish drums: the Bodhrán and the Lambeg. These two drums have a religious background, with one being Catholic and the other Protestant. Even now, conflicts about religion are still a big problem in the UK. When I asked them, “Do you sometimes play together?,” the reply was definite with a strong tone, “NEVER.” “Impossible.”

However, later there was a social get together for the participants, and the performers joined in, too. Not surprisingly, the two participant groups were just observing each other at the start, and they stayed as far apart as possible. But, as we casually asked them questions, both parties came closer and closer….
In the end, we even joined them to perform together. A performance they said was “impossible.” 

Later, I heard it was described as “a historical event.”

This probably wouldn’t have happened if we had acted in a strange way or if we were nervous. I believe we were able to come together because we simply showed our interest in music.

The historical jam session with Irish and Japanese drums. The big drum is the Lambeg (back), the small drum is the Bodhrán (front). 

Every Kodo Juku  Conversation exert from the October 1998 Issue

Participants of various ages and backgrounds come from all over Japan, around the world in fact, for the sole purpose of playing taiko. One of the attractions of Kodo Juku is the opportunity to meet all kinds of people.

I think Kodo Juku is a rare opportunity for the Kodo apprentices, too. Let’s call it an occasion where they can hone their sincerity. When you cook, for instance, you prepare each dish wholeheartedly so that all the participants will thoroughly enjoy it. If someone asks or requests something, you respond to the best of your ability. This event gives them time to think long and hard about always putting your heart into the things you do and being grateful. Kodo Juku is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to turn your attention to those things.

Personal Essay  From the June 2008 Issue 

I’m in Okinawa now.
There’s an abundance of time in Okinawa. Of course, this is merely an illusion. Yet I can feel it in my skin, in my Okinawan DNA. It feels very good, and I’m rejoicing. When I have time, my thoughts flow to Kodo and Sado. When that happens, it occurs to me that Kodo and Sado have brought peace to my soul, and given me the energy and courage to live. I feel as if Kodo and Sado have become part of my identity, too. Kodo, Sado, Okinawa—I was able to discover my purpose and reason for being within these three elements.
Through Kodo, I was blessed with unforgettable encounters. Each of these encounters and events is flowing through my veins. I was truly happy for my 22 years at Kodo. I’ve gone on and on about personal matters, but this is the last thing I’ll say. Kodo is my treasure and my pride.

See you, everyone. Until we meet again.

With Takuro and Junko Susaki on their visit to Okinawa, 2011


Translated by Kimberly Kam and Melanie Taylor

“Home Safe and Sound—a Post-Europe Tour Update” by Mio Teycheney-Takashiro and Ami Akimoto

The “Kodo OET2020: Legacy” tour members recently arrived home safely after starting their tour around Europe at the end of January.

As many of you would have heard, we were faced with concert cancellations due to the outbreak of COVID-19: four in Italy, one in Poland and five in Germany. This resulted in our tour finishing two weeks earlier than planned.

Knowing that there were audiences waiting for us, we could not help but feel an immense sense of regret—and at times rather emotional—about not able to reach the places where people were looking forward to seeing Kodo perform.

In that situation, we were confronted by a profound realization: the value of each performance. We noticed giving performances as planned is something we almost always took for granted. As we moved forward in this difficult time, we felt a greater significance and weight towards each and every performance that we were about to deliver.

Traveling with the tour group, which consisted of many newcomers to the Kodo Group, some with limited experience abroad, we were faced with many challenges. However, we feel that this experience will become a source of encouragement for us as we remain diligently devoted to bringing Kodo’s unique sound to the rest of the world.

We are deeply touched and grateful for the countless heartfelt words of encouragement and support we have received from within Japan and all over the world. On behalf of the European tour group, we would like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Our next European tour is scheduled for 2022. We truly look forward to seeing you again then!

Mio Teycheney-Takashiro and Ami Akimoto
“Kodo One Earth Tour 2020: Legacy” Tour Managers

Updated: Kodo Group Response to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

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