“New Project: Roots of Kodo” by Eri Uchida

In September, while other Kodo members where performing in “Yugen” at Kabukiza Theatre and traveling for small group projects, I was working hard on a new venture on Sado Island: a program called “Roots of Kodo.”

Roots of Kodo is a new live-in workshop aimed at people from abroad. The inaugural program was nine days long, held on Sado from Sep. 10 through 18.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

This idea for this project all started in Europe during a workshop tour I planned in 2017. I met so many energetic overseas taiko players on that tour who were very eager to learn.
I heard people from various countries say they wanted to study (taiko) way more seriously and they wanted to train at Kodo Apprentice Centre, if possible. So I wanted to give them the opportunity to do that. That’s how this program came about.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Kodo is constantly seeking new forms of expression with taiko, and so are people who play taiko abroad. They are also always wondering what is possible and looking for new inspiration, too.

After careful consideration, I felt that rather than try to teach them what Kodo’s way of expression, if I shared the roots of what we, Kodo, value as a group, then that might be the best way for each of them to move forward in their own pursuit of genuine taiko expression.

Photo: Yui KawamotoPhoto: Yui KawamotoPhoto: Yui Kawamoto

I could prepare that environment for them and create an optimal opportunity for them to learn.

And I’d already learned how to do just that through my experiences at Kodo Apprentice Centre.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

So I devised a program that included all the things that I considered to be Kodo’s roots: making your own meals, cleaning, creating a schedule and living by it together, figuring out time for training, devising practice methods, discussing things…and more.

Photo: Yui KawamotoThe program was not just about taiko training. It also included dance, tea ceremony, taking part in a local festival, agricultural work, and other activities. When I made a list of all the fundamentals of our group, there were so many things other than taiko that I was unsure if it would even make sense to the participants.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Each and every participant came with an active approach to learning and the desire to make the most of the program. I think the program worked because of their attitude.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

I kept asking myself if all these activities were necessary for simply playing taiko, and I made a real effort not to just gloss over things by saying “In Japan, we do this” or “That’s just the way it is.” By being thoughtful about every element, what was actually important became clear and it was regardless of any country or culture. I discovered things every day… perhaps I ended up learning the most of anyone from all the questions and reflection.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Once it was over, I realized that getting answers is not the purpose of this programPhoto: Yui Kawamoto

What people got were “seeds.” Those seeds were cultivated on Sado Island, within people just like this, within a history of time spent just like this.
And Kodo is the “flower” in bloom, which grew from those seeds.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

How the Roots of Kodo participants raise the seeds we gave them is up to each one of them. We know seeds grow differently according to factors such as the soil where they are planted, if they get sunlight or not, and if you give them water or not. I think the best way to raise seeds differs from place to place. I wonder what kind of flowers will bloom from those seeds in each participant’s country in the future.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

I hope the message of “ONE EARTH” will spread around the world through these seeds and flowers, to connect us all someday.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

To all the participants and staff involved, thank you so much.
I am excited about what lies ahead!

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

“KASA/MIX 2018” by Yui Kamiya

KASA/MIX was held once again this year on Sado Island!
This is a week-long biennial program geared for taiko players from abroad.

Photo: Yui Kamiya
This program not only features an exclusive time at Kodo’s Apprentice Centre with the apprentices, but also gives a chance to experience the beautiful nature of Sado and the craftsmanship of Kodo and the Japanese culture.
This year, we had participants join from a record breaking number of 7 countries with 22 people representing all over the world!

Photo: Yui Kamiya
We had people from the U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K., Italy, Germany, and Singapore, all with unique taiko experiences and loads of energy.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

The trip began in Kanazawa, where we all did some sightseeing together. Next we visited Asano Taiko for a tour of their workshop space, and we also took some lessons on mini-taiko making and Odaiko taught by Akemi Jige.

Then, we traveled to Sado Island and headed to Kodo Apprentice Centre.
Even before meeting the KASA/MIX participants, the Apprentices seemed very nervous and worried as they were not necessarily confident in their English language and communication skills.
But all of those worries blew away once everyone arrived, of course, because there was so much joy and excitement filling the air!

Photo: Yui Kamiya

Three nights and four days were spent at the Apprentice Centre, and the workshops were conducted by Kodo’s performing members.

Photo: Yui Kamiya
Yoko Fujimoto’s Voice Circle brought everyone’s voices and energy together.

Photo: Yui KamiyaPhoto: Yui Kamiya
And Tomohiro Mitome’s odaiko bachi making and taiko basics workshops gave everyone a better sense of craftsmanship and the way we play taiko.


Yoshie Abe’s katsugi okedo workshop not only showed the basics of playing this particular style, but to also how to move around elegantly with the drum.

Photo: Yui Kamiya Photo: Yui Kamiya
And lastly, Yoshikazu Fujimoto’s odaiko workshop gave everyone time to play on the large drums with all their might.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

During the program, KASA/MIX participants ran with the Apprentices every morning…

Photo: Yui Kamiya

…and experienced the great nature and fresh air of Sado that surrounds the facility.

Photo: Yui Kamiya
We played games together, and ate meals together like a big family.

Photo: Yui Kamiya Photo: Yui Kamiya
For the Apprentices, cleaning time may have been a dreaded activity in their daily schedule, but doing their chores together with KASA/MIX participants made them much more fun.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

At night, we had KASA/MIX participants share their stories and experiences of taiko in their home country.

Photo: Yui Kamiya
Since this was many of the apprentices’ first time to be exposed to taiko outside of Japan, this was a valuable time for them to learn what is out there in the broader world. We also had one-on-one conversation sessions where the apprentices did their best to communicate in English and use body language to talk to their new friends from abroad.

Photo: Yui Kamiya
Activities like these make KASA/MIX so special, and create a remarkable experience for the apprentices, as they overcome language barriers and connect with everyone through taiko and heart to heart.

Photo: Yui Kamiya
Photo: Yui Kamiya

Taiko may have come from Japan, but it is also now a worldwide sensation.

As “taiko” continues to grow globally, I feel that KASA/MIX also grows as a program along with it. KASA/MIX helps our future Kodo performers make friends all over the world, even before they make their debut as a performing member.

Photo: Yui Kamiya

Photo: Yui Kamiya

KASA/MIX is only offered once every two years, which means that the apprentices only get to experience it once during their two-year apprenticeship.

This experience has definitely opened up many opportunities for these young adults, and we truly thank you all of you who took part in the program this year.
It was so much fun, and we really look forward to seeing you all again!

Photo: Yui Kamiya

See you again soon!

Photo: Yui KamiyaPlease follow KASA (Kodo Arts Sphere America) on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kodoarts/
For those of you who are interested in participating our next KASA/MIX, please email kodoarts@earthlink.net to register your interest.

Yui Kamiya, KASA/MIX Staff Member


Kodo Apprentice Centre
https://www.kodo.or.jp/apr

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“Applications Close Soon for Kodo Juku 2018” by Misato Akazawa

“Kodo Juku” is a 4-day, 3-night live-in workshop at Kodo Apprentice Centre, surrounded by lush nature on Sado Island.
Eiichi Saito’s Kodu Juku Taiko Workshop began in 1992. Ever since, Saito has led these workshops with overt enthusiasm, sharing his passion for taiko and facilitating self discovery and new connections through this powerful resonant instrument.

At Kodo Juku, you’ll experience the daily life of Kodo apprentices. It promises to be a memorable escape from your usual life!

No taiko experience is necessary, just come along and give it a go.
We hope you’ll apply!

Apply for Kodo Juku 2018↓
https://www.kodo.or.jp/en/performance_en/performance_ws_en/10716

*Note: Workshop will be conducted in Japanese.

“My Recent Onikenbai & Odaiko Workshops” by Yoshikazu Fujimoto

On Sunday October 1st, I led Onikenbai (demon sword dance) and Odaiko (big drum) workshops at Gettoen in Shinto Village, Gunma Prefecture. There was a social get-together for the workshop participants the night before where we all had a great time chatting, drinking, singing, and playing taiko.
Gettoen is a multipurpose studio. On the ground floor, they have the studio and a kitchen and dining room. On the second floor, they have sleeping quarters for overnight guests.

Here’s a picture with the Onikenbai workshop participants. Despite partying heartily the night before, you can see that they were all fresh-faced and ready for the workshop the next day.

And here I am with the Odaiko workshop group. Even after a party and the Onikenbai workshop, they didn’t show any signs of tiredness throughout the Odaiko workshop. Look at those smiles!

The workshops were presented by Mr. Ryuji Okamura and his mother. Mr. Okamura is a taiko performer and the owner of Gettoen. They run hula dance classes at their studio, too. Mr. Okamura is a former Kodo apprentice and ever since those days he has been a loyal member of our supporter’s club. I am grateful for his support!


After the workshops I left Gunma and traveled home to Wachi in Kyoto Prefecture. The rice was harvested here on Sep. 5th and our current harvest is in the form of collecting chestnuts in the mornings and evenings.

My next workshops at Gettoen will be held on Sunday Dec. 17. Nearby there is a hot spring that is run by Shinto Village and it costs 300 yen for a two-hour soak. So I recommend you come the day before and have a nice soak in the springs on Saturday. It is really good. And of course, you can spend the night at Gettoen.
I am looking forward to seeing you all at the workshops.

Inquiries & Bookings:
Okamura Store Tel: 050-3551-8107

“Join Me for My ‘Body & Soul Taiko Workshops'” by Yoshikazu Fujimoto

We thoroughly enjoyed “Earth Celebration 2017” thanks to great people and good weather. Thank you very much to everyone who came along! I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you.

The photo below was taken at the “Living, Learning, Creating” exhibition that Kodo’s Yosuke Kusa curated at EC 2017. My handmade drumsticks were part of the display.


The three pairs of bachi (drumsticks) from the left side of the photo (o-daiko bachi, shime-daiko bachi, Yatai-bayashi bachi) are all my handiwork. Further along to the right are bachi made by Kodo’s Tomohiro Mitome, Yuichiro Funabashi, and Kenta Nakagome. Everyone who came to this exhibition was allowed to pick up the bachi. I wonder what they felt when they gripped our handmade drumsticks in their own hands.

Here’s a picture taken at the entrance to the exhibition at Tennanso, where everyone was greeted by cheerful volunteer Shiho Takano. Tennanso is directly opposite Shiho’s family’s liquor store, Takano-ya.

Today I also want to let you know about my upcoming “Body & Soul Workshop” series, which will be held this weekend on Sep. 2 (Sat) & 3 (Sun) at Taiko no Sato Kyowakan in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward.

  • Sep. 2 (Sat) 15:30–17:30 Body & Soul: O-daiko Workshop
  • Sep. 3 (Sun) 11:00–13:00 Body & Soul: Onikenbai Workshop
  • Sep. 3 (Sun) 14:30–16:30 Body & Soul: Wachi Daiko Workshop

Inquiries & Reservations: Taiko no Sato Kyowakan Tel. 03-3714-2774 (Hours: 11:00–17:30) 


Also, on Sep. 4 (Mon) I will lead an “O-daiko Workshop” from 19:00–20:30 at Asano Taiko’s Shinkyokan in Hakusan, Ishikawa.

Inquiries & Reservations: Asano Taiko Tel. 076-277-1717

I look forward to seeing you this weekend at my workshops in Tokyo and Ishikawa!


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