“One Earth” by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

Throughout my travels, I have been blessed with opportunities to meet many inspiring people from around the globe.
While I keep most of these conversations close to my heart, there is one quote in particular that I was reminded of during my time in China, which I’d like to share.

“Music and performing arts have the power to make the walls between us become a little bit lower. While it may only be a really little difference, it is a very significant difference.”

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

China has always been a country that was close yet far for me. Growing up internationally, making friends and meeting people of Chinese descent was nothing out of the ordinary. Chinese people make up the majority of inbound tourists in Japan, and I’ve always been surrounded by things that were “Made in China.” But the country itself? It has always been a great unknown for me. So I wondered…
Will people come to our concert?
Will they like it?
Are we going to be able to do this?

As we wrapped up our first performance in Guangzhou, I remember thinking, “What was I worried about?”

The applause and cheers that we received were as big as we’ve ever received. The audience was ecstatic.

It’s those moments that I think to myself that perhaps what we do has some meaning in this world after all. Maybe just a little bit, but maybe just enough.

My sincerest gratitude to the wonderful people who made this tour happen, and to the amazing audiences in China.


Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

Kodo members watching the instruments getting packed up for transport back to Japan.

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” China Tour



“My First Tour” by Sunao Maehama

My First Tour

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

Nice to meet you, everyone. I’m Sunao Maehama, a Kodo junior member. Kodo’s “Evolution” tour in China is my very first tour.

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

Passing over Sado Island and Kodo Apprentice Centre on the way from Niigata to Shanghai.

Within a week of becoming a junior member earlier this year, I heard which performances I had been cast in for the year ahead. That was when I found out that my first international tour would be in China. I also learned I would be appearing in “Ake no Myojo,” a taiko, song, and dance number.

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

Rehearsing “Ake no Myojo” at Shanghai MISA

Each junior member is given distinct challenges. One of the challenges listed for me was expressing my femininity. One of the senior Kodo members told me that Ake no Myojo puts the spotlight on female performers and requires femininity.

In this piece, you move while carrying and playing a taiko drum. So if you don’t create a stable axis with your body, it doesn’t look good. You have to synchronize the timing of the loud and quiet tones of the drum with the movements of your body. It requires precision. I received all kinds of advice from the senior members, such as keeping my legs close together when I pivot.

Photo: Akiko Umegaki

Rehearsals before opening night in Shanghai

On opening night, I was really nervous but I gave it my all. I think left everything I’ve learned to date on the stage.

Photo: Akiko Umegaki

“Evolution” opening night in Shanghai

As I write this, so far I’ve only performed twice on this tour. Something I have noticed and constantly feel when I perform with Kodo is what it’s like when the sound you create resonates in the bodies and hearts of others.

I am still very new to the ensemble and I’m desperately trying to keep up with everyone. I’ll do my best at our Guangzhou and Beijing performances, too!

Photo: Yasuhiko Ishihara

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” China Tour


“OK!!!” by Yuta Kimura

We carry out detailed checks before each performance.
We check the position of our equipment, our drumsticks, the tuning of the drums, and so on…
When everything is in position, we say “Pre-Set OK!”

Photo: Yuta Kimura

One of the things I really like about Kodo since entering the group is that everyone handles the drums with a great deal of care.

Everyone pays attention to the condition of the skins, of course, but Kodo performers also wipe the drums before the performance so they look beautiful when we take the stage.

Photo: Yuta KimuraOne of the more senior members once told me, “Be prepared for anything that could possibly happen.”

No matter where I am, what kind of venue, or who is coming to watch us perform, one thing is constant: I make sure I always do a thorough pre-performance check so I can deliver my best performance.

Photo: Yuta Kimura

We still have many places left to visit on our North America tour.

We want our sentiments to reach the audience through our sound.
With that in mind, we carefully prepare for every performance until we can say with confidence:
“Pre-set OK!!!”


Photo: Yuki Hirata



Coming Up Next:

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” North America Tour


“The Limitless Possibilities” by Yui Kamiya

March 24, 2019

Kodo’s mission is to “explore the limitless rhythmic possibilities of taiko, and in the process, forge new directions for a vibrant living art-form.”
But I also believe that taiko has the endless ability to gather and connect people.
This is what I think is the most attractive aspect of taiko.

Tomorrow marks our final performance of our two-month-long North American tour of ‘Evolution.’
We were so lucky to have met and reunited again with new and olds friends across this continent.

To the local taiko groups who are talented in so many ways in embracing their creativity, and to our long time friends who have been watching and listening to our performances from way back when: Thank you so much to everyone who has come out to our performances this year!
Everyone’s passionate hearts for taiko definitely gave us energy and strength to pull through the tour.

The possibilities are still limitless.
Who have we not met yet? Who is still out there? What will our friendships bring?
These are just a few thoughts that excite me!



“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” North America Tour

Tour Finale

“The Different Reasons Behind Our Thoughts” by Ami Akimoto

Hi everyone, I’m Ami Akimoto. In March, I was touring for the first time with Kodo as an assistant manager on the “Evolution” North America tour.

Photo: Koji Miyagi

I have seen Kodo’s performances as an audience member many times before, however there was so much more that to learn about Kodo that I not seen before stepping behind the scenes as a staff member on this tour.

Photo: Leo Ryotaro

As I spent time on this tour, I had realised that there are so many different thoughts that existed in all the people who were a part of or had encountered Kodo. The performance and staff members on the tour all had their own reasons and unique thoughts, individual challenges, personal goals, and uncertainties to overcome. But there was always a sense of respect and understanding towards each other, which may assist in creating the feeling of ‘oneness’ as a group, transforming each performance into something spectacular on stage. Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Personally, as I spent more time with the members, I found that the feelings I had towards watching each performance changed as well. I gained a new sense of appreciation and started to notice something new every time.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

I had also discovered, through the direct contact with the audience members as part of my role in the tour, that the audience members all had very unique thoughts and different senses of appreciation for the performance they saw. It was not only from the love they had for taiko: there were also people who enjoyed the energy they felt through all senses in their body. There were people who seemed to be filled with a sense of courage and passion, perhaps simply from seeing the beaming performers on stage. And others who felt motivated to change in a positive way after seeing the dedication from the performers, just to name a few. I felt that this was proof of Kodo’s ability to connect and create something special that resonated and lingered differently within the souls of many people.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

This was also true for the many local venue volunteers and staff members, bus drivers and stage hand staff that we met during the tour. Whether there was a common language spoken or not, it seemed that there were always smiles and positivity wherever we travelled, and new connections and relationships formed.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

As I spent time on the tour, I realised that there are many feelings, numerous different reasons, and countless desires that wondrously co-exist and bring everyone together.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

In line with the wish behind the title “One Earth Tour,” I hope that Kodo continues to be a special part of many souls, overcoming language and cultural barriers, resonating with an even wider audience from around the world.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Furthermore, I hope that the art of taiko can help to bring people together to understand one another, to form many special connections, and create infinite possibilities!

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Evolution” North America Tour

Kodo Blog Archive