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
President
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

“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

 

Schedules

“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

 

Schedules

“Thoughts Before Departure…” by Seita Saegusa

I am Seita, I have been with Kodo for 3 years.

This will be my third tour but my first to Europe. Our opening performance is in Moscow, Russia. So, for me, preparing to leave holds some familiar experiences and some fresh curiosity.

 

How will audiences respond to our reinterpretation of the Kodo classics in ‘Legacy’? Those signature pieces that Kodo has been performing for nearly half a century. But now, we are this troupe, here and now. What will remain the same as before and what will be different?

Intense preparation and practice is our lifestyle at Kodo Village—it becomes both our confidence and our pride. Therefore, Kodo’s legacy is instilled in our bodies and now we travel to share that gift with our audiences.

 

Yet, we are more than professional percussionists. We offer more than just the sound of drumming. We each offer our individual commitment and dedication to create the composite experience that is Kodo.

We do so with respect for the past and fresh ambition for the future.

 

My hope is that each member of each audience, at each performance, will leave with an imprint on their soul. An echo of the music that we have instilled in our bodies.

 

 

Where is Kodo performing today? (February 4, 2020)

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2020: Legacy” Europe Tour

Schedules


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