“Deep into the Woods of Japanese Culture” by Melanie Taylor

This month Kodo is performing at Kabukiza Theatre as musicians for the new Kabuki production “Yugen.” It’s based on the sellout Tamasaburo Bando and Kodo collaboration last year, which went by the same name. Both the 2017 production and 2018 Kabuki are based on three iconic Noh plays: The Feather Robe, The Stone Bridge, and Dojoji Temple.

So, why see a new Kabuki work based on a collaboration based on Noh?
In short, this production is a trip to a deep, dark, intriguing part of Japan that you won’t find on TripAdvisor or the like.
You may not realize it from the flier, but this is your chance to go off the beaten track and deep into the woods of Japanese culture.

I saw last year’s version three times, and this year’s twice so far. I’m going back for a third time before it ends on Sep. 26. There’s something quite addictive about the world they conjure on stage and I feel compelled to go again while I have the chance.

In all honesty, this is unlike any Kabuki I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been fortunate enough to attend quite a few performances at Kabukiza Theatre over the past decade.
The big difference for me is probably the powerful beat. There is something about twenty Kodo performers on that immense stage playing with such soul and precision that draws you in and carries you away with more force than usual. As if connecting the audience to the stage on a primal, foot-tap inducing level, I felt the addition of more drums and new music made the Kabuki less foreign and more superhuman than usual. Prepare to be stunned by the power, grace, and presence of the actors. It’s extraordinary and breathtaking.

Quite simply, Yugen is a spectacular, entertaining event that will show you Japanese culture with splendour and intensity, give you goosebumps, make your jaw drop and your heart beat in time with the stage and audience members.
While it might be the most Japanese experience you’ll have in Japan, I suspect you’ll also leave feeling more connected to the humans all over the world. I can’t help but thinking that human beings doing their best on stage, right before our eyes, inspire us all the more in whatever we strive to do each day. In an age of YouTube and people happy to watch a DVD if they can’t attend a performance, “Yugen” reminds us of the many roles of the theater: to delight, to surprise, to remind us of human effort and ability, and to recharge our souls. I could go on.

I don’t want to add any spoilers, so I’ll just urge you once more: if you’re in or near Tokyo, I really hope you can see this performance.

And I invite you to share your feedback after you attend.
Kodo will be using this valuable experience to inspire our new compositions and productions, so we would appreciate your insight to help us entertain you all the more!

Kodo Appearance in New Kabuki Production “Yugen” at Kabukiza Theatre September Kabuki Performances [Evening Show] (Chuo Ward, Tokyo)

Photos: Takashi Okamoto
Stage Production: Shochiku Co. Ltd.
All rights reserved.

“Like the Ever-Changing Sky – EC 2018” by Jun Jidai

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Just like that, EC 2018 is over.
Thank you so much to everyone who came along.
I hope you had a safe journey home and took great memories of your time on Sado with you.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Over the three days of the festival, we performed in different places and with a wide range of expressions.

Everything we showed was us, true to life.

Faces and voices we don’t usually show on stage.
And new flavors.

I hope you were able to experience different sides of Kodo at EC.

Photo: Jun JidaiEvery time you look at the sky, it’s different.
In the same way, we change all the time, too.

Photo: Jun Jidai

Kodo may go from one extreme to the other, but it’s all with our audience in mind.
Thanks for your continued support!

Photo: Maiko Miyagawa

Before I show my face on stage again, I’m going to take a good rest after EC!

See you in Tokyo at Kabukiza Theater this September! I’ll be there for “Yugen” from Sep. 2 through 26.

Kodo Appearance in New Kabuki Production “Yugen” at Kabukiza Theatre September Kabuki Performances [Evening Show] (Chuo Ward, Tokyo)

“Shishi Hair Whip” by Kengo Watanabe

When I joined Kodo, I never imagined I would be given the chance to wear kumadori stage makeup or perform the traditional hair whip (kefuri) shown in the photo above! When I appear on stage in the role of shishi (beast), I perform each and every hair whip with great care.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo Special Performance “Yugen” (Japan)

“Our Local Festival ‘Ogi Minato Matsuri'” by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga

Kodo is based in Ogi on Sado Island. On Aug. 26, the town of Ogi held its annual festival.

The Kodo Group came together to take part in the festival. We spent the day showing our appreciation to the people of Ogi by hauling our cart from door to door to play taiko for everyone.

Thank you for everything, Ogi!

After the festival, it’s time for us to head back out on tour again.
My next destination is Hakataza Theater in Fukuoka for “Yugen”!

Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo Special Performance “Yugen” (Japan)

Kodo Members Take on a Challenging New Role in “Yugen”

The climax of our new production with Tamasaburo Bando, “Yugen,” features five colorful beasts. Two Kodo members appear in this role alongside Tamasaburo Bando, Jusuke Hanayagi and a Hanayagi dancer. They are Kengo Watanabe and Kodai Yoshida.

The picture below is of Kodai Yoshida (Kodo), Jusuke Hanayagi (center), and Kengo Watanabe (Kodo), backstage at the Nagoya performances.

And here they are again, transformed into shishi (beasts).

They look forward to seeing you at the theater for “Yugen”!

Tamasaburo Bando x Kodo Special Performance “Yugen” (Japan)

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