Kodo’s annual performances in Shukunegi first began in 2012, back when I was still a Kodo apprentice. The apprentices all joined the Kodo members, staff, and Shukunegi locals to get ready for the performances and it felt like creating something together from square one: spring cleaning the hall, hanging the back drops, cutting down bamboo and using it to put up the concert flags.
Kodo now has a decade’s worth of experiences at this place, and I feel so happy that we’re back here again this year.
There is so much going on right now all over the world, and here in Japan. It feels like we’re living our usual daily lives with chaos either close by, or all around us.
It makes me think…what can we do as taiko players?
What should artists share in times like these?
Tomorrow is uncertain, but I’ve made it to tomorrow each day thus far. So I want to keep creating and expressing myself as an artist, giving my all each day.
I want to express what it means to be born in this era, and what I’m doing with Kodo now.
I want to turn that into power that helps get us all through to “tomorrow” again.
I want to take all the moments when I laugh and feel excited and deeply moved, and pack them all into this performance with along with my gratitude.
I sincerely hope that our performances bring the joy of spring and the sounds of Shukunegi to many people.
Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi (2022)
Apr 29 (Fri)–May 7 (Sat), 2022 Shukunegi Community Hall, Ogi Peninsula, Sado Island, Niigata
Enjoy Kodo at your place throughout February via a range of streaming platforms!
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It’s April and in Japan that means the start of a new business and school year. I’m sure many of you have had a fresh start in a new environment this month.
We’ve recently finished our North America “Evolution” tour and Interactive Performances in Japan and returned to Sado Island. Right now, we are busy preparing for our upcoming tours and concerts this spring, as well as future works.
From May, we’re going to be touring with “Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Michi” throughout Japan for the rest of the year.
It’s going to be a soul-stirring, invigorating two-hour program featuring Kodo standards such as Monochrome, Miyake, O-daiko, and Yatai-bayashi. As director, I’ve also included some of my favorite classics like The Hunted and HITOTSU, and we’ve created some brand new numbers, too!
We’ve reworked and refined the content since last year, and we are already looking forward to seeing it evolve with each performance on tour.
The cast ranges from senior to junior Kodo members who all bring their own unique sound and energy to the stage. I really hope you’ll come along to see “Michi” at one of the many theaters on our tour to experience this rousing program firsthand.
Naturally, I have a real soft spot for playing O-daiko (the big drum).
But recently, I realized that Miyake (Miyake Taiko) is also very important to me.
Back when I had just become a Kodo member, I made it on to my first big tour because I was given the chance to play Miyake. For a time back then, all I played was Miyake and I didn’t practice anything else, which meant I didn’t get to perform much else.
Perhaps I realized that when I was playing a Miyake solo, I could let myself “explode,” let myself go wild.
When I was new to the group and couldn’t do anything well, Tomohiro [Mitome] and Yosuke [Oda] used Miyake as a tool to open my eyes.
Later on, there was a time when I felt a sense of failure, and wasn’t sure which way to turn. Kazu (Kazuhiro Tsumura) from Miyake-jima Geino Doshikai, who was in the same Kodo apprentice cohort as I, said “Come on, let’s play Miyake together.” And with that invitation, I went to see the Tsumura family. While I was there, drumming like crazy, I started to feel better, and more and more positive.
I also felt reawakened by the Tsumuras’ explosive sound.
Anytime I am not feeling good physically, playing Miyake makes me feel better again.
And anytime something new is about to begin, the chance for me to play Miyake seems to arise out of nowhere.
I heard Yuta [Sumiyoshi] was going to direct a production for the first time. He said to me , “Let’s do something together,” and he asked me to arrange and play a new arrangement of Miyake. That arrangement became a whole new piece, Saien, which we created as our own take on Miyake.
When I look back on my journey, taiko has trained me and guided me to where I am today.
I feel fresh and new as we create this brand new work, “MEGURU,” but at the same time I can feel Miyake on my mind and in my bones.
I am so happy to share Kodo’s new production “MEGURU” with audiences throughout Japan this month and next.
MEGURU means to revolve or come full circle. Based on that theme, I carefully crafted this programme from all new pieces, each created with a focus on conjuring scenery with sound.
All things in nature loop, there are no exceptions.
The sun and moon, water and life, they all revolve without exception.
All things that begin come to an end, then begin again. Beyond space and time, over and over again.
This phenomenon extends to spiritual things, too, such as souls and people’s feelings.
Such cycles have turned for thousands of years, and perhaps the tales people hand down through time have influenced us unknowingly.
I’ve come to think that if people from different countries or cultures can imagine scenery in the same way, then an individual’s own memories or knowledge aren’t the only things that shape their perceptions.
So, what do we have in common?
Throughout time, I think we humans have always sought an understanding of the senses shared by all human beings, and this pursuit has continually led us into contact with the arts.
There are various artistic activities, such as art and music, but none of them are necessities for humans to live their lives.
Even so, humans throughout time have foregone sleep to draw pictures and to create music.
I too have moments when I only want to create music.
I get this feeling of wanting to give shape to something that lies somewhere within me.
I want to hear my soul’s voice.
That kind of impulse is like a tale in itself that has come around and around again. It’s also what I want to depict through this work.
I hope MEGURU will take us on a journey together in pursuit of that soul, a journey that circles imaginary scenery evoked by Kodo’s sound.
We will cherish each and every sound as we perform to facilitate this quest with our audience.