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.
Just when I thought the extreme cold wave had ended, I heard that much of Sado Island was now without water. It’s been chaotic here for many days. Amidst trying circumstances, we have been rehearsing at Kodo Village for our upcoming Egypt performances. It will be Kodo’s first time to perform there and when we arrive in Egypt, that will mark the 50th country Kodo where has performed to date. Director Tomohiro Mitome is leading the cast of nine for these performances. You wouldn’t think it was just nine people by the number of pieces and rich content. Tomohiro said to us, “It’s a tough program, but let’s enjoy ourselves.” And with that, our rehearsals began.
The cast features a lot of young performers, so while the rehearsals were very lively, they also made us reaffirm that we have our work cut out for us each time we appear on stage.
We had a tight rehearsal schedule with only one week to practice. The stage manager, Kazuki Imagai, who is a former Kodo performer, told us that, “Even if there is no time, you still have to do everything properly.” The senior Kodo members gave us strict, clear instructions and our rehearsals steadily progressed.
I have been practicing hard as I imagine the unknown land where I am heading. It’ll be everyone’s first time visiting Egypt. I wonder what awaits us over there…
New Year’s Greeting from Kodo Ensemble Leader Yuichiro Funabashi
I wish you all a very happy new year!
I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who supported and appreciated our group’s work last year. It’s thanks to all of you that we were able to have a fulfilling year of activities. I would also like to offer my sincere condolences to the people recovering from the typhoons, flooding and other natural disasters that hit Japan and other parts of the world last year.
Looking back over 2019, Kodo kicked off the year with our “Evolution” North America tour. We also took this production to China, where we held our first tour there in 19 years. In Japan, we toured nationwide with “Michi” and our Interactive Performances.
In the summer, we returned to Tokyo’s Asakusa with “Iki,” a special program dedicated to the people of Asakusa. The locals helped us surprise the audience by bringing a slice of Asakusa’s annual festival to the performance. They joined us on stage carrying a portable shrine (mikoshi). It was a dream come true for us to share a taste of their traditional festival with our audience.
The grand finale of our 2019 activities was Kodo “Sen no Mai,” a performance celebrating the 40th anniversary of Chieko Kojima‘s performance career. The work featured Chieko along with a cast of Kodo’s next generation. Under Chieko’s direction, they conjured a grand, beautiful realm on stage that enveloped the entire audience. It was a truly joyous production.
This year, first up for us is our “Kodo One Earth Tour: Legacy” tour in Europe. Back at home, we will visit schools and communities throughout Japan with our Interactive Performances. In May, we will premiere our long-awaited new work directed by Robert Le Page: NOVA.
Following our celebrations of Yoshikazu Fujimoto and Chieko Kojima’s performance careers, we are planning further commemoratives works to mark the milestones of other senior Kodo members who forged the foundations of our current activities.
Of course, we look forward to welcoming you all to our homeland, Sado Island, in 2020. We’ll be hosting our springtime Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi, and summer festival Earth Celebration. We’re working hard to make these events better than ever. Wherever we go, we share the sound of Kodo that was inspired by this wonderful island, and created at Kodo Village. We look forward to sharing the spirit of Sado Island with you, at home and on tour.
I sincerely hope this year is a great year for all of you. I kindly ask for your continued support and encouragement.