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

“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)

“Temperature, Climate, Atmosphere” by Masayasu Maeda

These are things we experience every moment of our daily lives. Sometimes, the contrast or intensity will sharpen our awareness of the sensations. If there’s a sudden draft, when a door is opened on a cosy space, the felt experience of our surroundings is just as likely to be emotional along with physical. Our surroundings have altered and we register that change.

Having spent January in Sado ,without snow, I arrived in Russia where the relentless coldness of their winter weather threatened to penetrate to my bones. It was quite shocking.

Still, the rooms are warm, especially the air-conditioned hotel rooms. Places that are heated (or cooled) by convection: the moving and mixing of gases, particles and energy. An involuntary event that we harness and then benefit from.

During a Kodo performance, I feel something similar occurs.


Each audience member entering and sitting in the auditorium is carrying the energy of their daily life, each theatre building holding the energy of both its own unique history and locality. All things being a reflection of temperature, climate and atmosphere.

Then Kodo enters this space bearing our own dynamism.

On the stage are Taiko drums, made by Japanese craftsmen, performers dressed in traditional costumes. Across the stage is the curtain, a symbol of a boundary, but it will lift, like a door or window opening and then a new and unique atmosphere is created as all these different energies will interact and mingle.

Because, once the curtain rises “convection” occurs.

The various elements of energy within the theater begin to mix, and by the end of the performance, the atmosphere surrounding us all is neither distinctly national to the place of performance nor exclusively Kodo.


I witness this over and over, day performances, night performances, rainy days …

It is an experience that can only be felt by people who are present, it cannot be captured with photos and videos. Each sound is fresh and born in that very moment, as it is being felt by both performers and audience.


Today, you can enjoy everything on Youtube, Netflix and Spotify.

Even in such times, Kodo visits countries and tours. This involves moving insanely large drums and their stands, preparing each individual stage space with the necessary markings and then a daily tuning of the drums.

Every performance demands sweat. Each night we hand wash our costumes so they can be hung in our air conditioned hotel rooms to dry. Physical convection. This is life on the road. A cycle of preparation and movement and exchange.

Ready for the next performance, theatre or country.


Lithuania was Kodo’s 52nd country. Over nearly 40 years, this process has continued with 52 countries.




Where is Kodo performing next? (February 18, 2020)

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2020: Legacy” Europe Tour



“My Two-Year Road to Redemption” by Yuta Kimura

February 1st, Moscow, Russia. The European tour is offically underway. In addition, I have reached a personal milestone. Allow me to elaborate (but not too much).

For the last European tour I was a junior member. I was inexperienced and I discovered that there are some aspects of life on the road, away from the performances, where I was completely clueless. So then, experience became my teacher and it was a very harsh one.


In a nutshell: I made mistakes. Small mistakes, big mistakes? (I hear you asking.) How do we judge these things? In this case, the actions were indeed small, yet, in terms of the level of humiliation I felt – it was huge. Therefore, I became determined to redeem myself, my reputation and self image.

I decided that I would focus and work really hard, so that when I next returned to Europe, my ‘errors’ would be behind me, firmly in the context of ‘an understandably naive action’. (It is actually quite funny on reflection, apologies that no details are being offered, at least not by me.)


It is strange and interesting how the low points in our lives can become turning points. Today I can look back on my younger self with forgiveness and gratitude.

It is the same voice of experience that can confidently say ‘this tour is going to be a completely joyous experience’.






Where is Kodo performing next? (February 6, 2020)


“Kodo One Earth Tour 2020: Legacy” Europe Tour



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