We spend most of our time on tour away from Sado. Every time I come back to the island, the beautiful nature and scenery, the food and people, they always clear away any fatigue I brought back from the road. This place resets me.
The longer I live on Sado, the stronger I feel a sense of this island nurturing all of us at Kodo.
Our current touring work takes a look back at Kodo classics and gives us an opportunity to reflect on who we are right now. The cast ranges from veterans to newcomers, so it’s a chance for audiences to discover the appeal of a wide range of generations within Kodo today.
I am grateful to everyone on Sado Island who constantly supports our activities. I’ll put my appreciation into each beat at our performance here.
I hope you’ll join us there on November 20!
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.”
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.
Kodo members watching the instruments getting packed up for transport back to Japan.
Nice to meet you, everyone. I’m Sunao Maehama, a Kodo junior member. Kodo’s “Evolution” tour in China is my very first tour.
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.
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.
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.
“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!
Miyake is a very important piece to me. My life as a taiko player wouldn’t be the same without Miyake.
It was watching Kodo play Miyake that made me want to join Kodo.
I first saw Miyake when I was a high school student. I watched the performers push themselves to their limits, brimming with masculine fighting spirit. I thought they were beyond cool!
I’ll never forget that sensation of trembling with excitement from deep within.
Now, I’ve been given the opportunity to play the center position in Miyake.
The excitement I felt way back then… I wonder if our audiences feel like it now.
I really want to give them that sense of excitement, so I will practice harder and harder. I’ll keep giving it my all.
This tour, is actually my first time overseas. As a foreigner abroad I am relishing all the fresh experiences. Observing people, walking in the different cities and trying the local food. Yet at the same time there are moments of homesickness for Japan.
European audience responses varies from country to country. In some places the emotions are freely expressed, elsewhere there is more reserve (rather like myself.) This clear difference of response from place to place is one of the unique pleasures of touring – seeing these contrasts back to back.
Strangely, it feels as if the difference between the reactions makes the actual content of “Legacy” look like a different show every time. Is the same show experienced differently, or is each show a different experience? Frankly, I have no need to answer my own question. I am just loving touring. All that has already happened and all that is still to come.