“Opening the Doors to Kodo Taiko School”

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics was apparently the first occasion when Japanese taiko drums were performed on stage. Before then, taiko was an ancient Japanese percussion instrument that was used in regional folk performing arts, at shrine and temple events, and to accompany Noh and Kabuki theater. In the past six decades, taiko has spread outside Japan as an art form that is now enjoyed by people worldwide.

Almost half a century has passed since the days of Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble’s antecedent group, Sado no Kuni Ondekoza. Kodo continues to tour the globe under the banner “One Earth,” sharing the possibilities of taiko and the appeal of taiko performance. I think it’s fair to say that our journey has progressed in tandem with the development of taiko as an art form.

In 2021, when Kodo celebrates its 40th anniversary, the group decided to launch Kodo Taiko School to help make this new taiko culture into an even richer art form in the future. Kodo hopes to broaden the scope of taiko by extensively sharing the wisdom and know-how about taiko that it has amassed to date. The group also wants to contribute to developing greater richness and diversity in the taiko world.

This school is not a place where people will merely study performance technique. The curriculum is based on Kodo’s mission statement: living, learning, and creating. We’ll start by teaching people what they need to know before they play taiko—how to make drumsticks, taiko maintenance, physical training, and how to stand and move. Then we’ll teach people the importance of each sound and playing as an ensemble, as they practice playing pieces together.

The lessons will take place online in small groups, so everyone can see each other face to face. The course will provide a place and opportunity for taiko enthusiasts from all over Japan and around the world to meet and play taiko together, even though they will take part from their corner of the globe.

It’s a very new initiative and, in all honesty, we are still figuring out certain parts. We really want to develop this project into a fun, meaningful forum for learning for everyone to enjoy.

Atsushi Sugano
Managing Director
Kodo Cultural Foundation
Dec. 2020