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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Our “Evolution” North America Tour is gradually nearing its end. We are all doing well.
This time, I have the added challenges of playing chappa (cymbals) and bamboo flutes on stage, as well as taiko.
Considering baseball player Shohei Otani is called a two-way player for pitching and fielding, perhaps I’m a three-way player?
It sounds presumptuous for me to say that, but I am grateful for this rare opportunity.
I have a lot to work on for each different instrument, and I need to work on my mindset and how I use my body, too. I don’t want to tackle any of these challenges half-heartedly. As I focus on each challenge, I am acutely aware that becoming a good all-rounder is not an easy goal.
However, I do have feelings of fulfillment. No matter what instrument I play, I will keep doing my best each day and hope I can connect with our audiences.
We’re into the second half of our tour now. Along with my energetic, smiling colleagues, I’ll continue to give it my all as we share Kodo’s sound with the people of North America.
I met three sixteen-year-old taiko players who were born and raised in the USA.
They first encountered taiko through a community group when they were in elementary school.
They love taiko and all still play.
These young US taiko players were so interested to meet taiko players from Japan.
They asked us questions like:
“When and how did you get into playing taiko?”
“What kind of practice do you do?”
“Do you compose songs?”
“The way you use your body to play frisbee is similar to how you use it to play taiko, don’t you think? (This one was from a frisbee player)
At our exchange event
Most of our one and a half hour chat was a barrage of questions from them.
When I had the chance, I asked them, “What is it about taiko that you like?”
One of them answered, “The sound of our taiko makes the audience smile and feel happy. How cool is that? That makes me really happy. Also, I like the vibrations you feel in your body when you play.”
Then the three of them said, “Most of all, playing taiko is fun!”
Seeing them talking happily about taiko with a sparkle in their eyes reminded me that all taiko players have something important in common: that feeling of enjoyment when we play.
Taiko is fun!
Workshop in Boulder, Colorado
The appeal of taiko has reached places far away from Japan.
In completely different environments, taiko players around the world are hooked on the same instruments as us.
We’re all crazy about taiko.
At an exchange event
The taiko community is expanding around the world.
Let’s connect more and more, and make the good vibrations of taiko reach further and further.