“Supporting the Kodo Book Translation Project ‘Drum Your Heart Out!'” by Yuichiro Funabashi

In January, a fellow Niigata-based artist, Jo Kanamori, gave me his new book, Dance Company of Struggles. Mr. Kanamori is a dancer and the artistic director of Noism Company Niigata and this is his first book. I read it with great interest. Then in February, I went to see Noism’s new production, Der Wanderer. Mr. Kanamori’s artistic direction is always exciting. This time, he really brought the physicality of each and every cast member to the forefront while creating a sense of unity within the cast led by dancer Sawako Iseki. It was a wonderful performance. Having just read Mr. Kanamori’s book, I could feel even more color and depth as I watched them perform. That really stayed with me. This experience made me think a lot about the importance of recording our words.

Melanie Taylor, a member of our team who handles our English translation, has launched a project to share the book that Kodo published in 2011, Inochi Moyashite, Tatakeyo, with the world. This book describes Kodo’s history in a straightforward manner from various perspectives. For me, it’s an important book that I read over and over again as things crop up along our journey.

Melanie has been watching Kodo perform for years and years. She carefully weaves my words into English, bringing the true meaning of each word into her translation by checking the background and my intention. She is a trustworthy friend of mine, and I am sincerely looking forward to seeing her translation of this book take shape. I sincerely hope that many people will feel more depth and color when they watch Kodo’s performances after reading this book.

Over ten years have already passed since we published this book and I strongly feel the need to start preparing to publish the sequel—the next part of our history. For now, I am grateful that Melanie has kicked off this project to translate our first book. I really hope that many people will support this project.

Incidentally, in my Japanese profile it says my hobbies include reading and enjoying pro wrestling, Rakugo storytelling, and Takarazuka theatrical performances. I have a lot of books about my various interests, lining my bookshelves. When I learn all sorts of things about each group and each person, and their history and background, my feelings intensify and my enjoyment doubles.

Yuichiro Funabashi
Kodo Ensemble Leader
March 2023

Kodo Book Translation Project “Drum Your Heart Out” Crowdfunding Campaign on PledgeMe
This site’s currency is New Zealand dollars.

Kodo Book Translation Project “Drum Your Heart Out” Intro Video

The campaign video is fully subtitled in English and Japanese. If subtitles don’t appear, click the settings cog on YouTube and switch them on.

A Heartfelt Request for Continued Support and Assistance from Kodo Ensemble Leader Yuichiro Funabashi (Sep. 1, 2020)

Sep. 1, 2020

In April, I made a public appeal on behalf of Kodo for ongoing emergency support. Many people from many places sent us support and words of encouragement. I offer my sincere thanks to each and every one of you.

In light of the current global situation, this year Earth Celebration, the annual festival we host in tandem with Sado Island, was held entirely online for the first time in its 33-year history. We asked for your support by way of crowdfunding and I would like to sincerely thank everyone who answered that call for help. Your kind encouragement is the reason that our group was able to band together to tackle the new challenge of creating a diverse lineup to broadcast online. We reaffirmed the power of Sado Island and how wonderful it is to spend time with you all. It was a truly fruitful experience. I am already looking forward to the next time we are able to welcome you all to Sado Island again.

Since March, when our European tour was interrupted by the pandemic, almost all of our performances were canceled or postponed. However, from September, our School Workshop Performance cast will start touring again. They will be taking extra care with a range of infection prevention measures in place. This year, many school events were also canceled, so we hope the sound of taiko will touch the students’ hearts as it resonates within their school during these live performances.   

Photo: Takashi Okamoto


My own first tour with Kodo, twenty years ago, was a School Workshop Performance Tour that visited junior high schools here in Niigata Prefecture. Although junior high school students are full of emotions, they don’t always show their feelings on the outside. So on my first tour, I remember trying to gauge their reaction, which meant I didn’t have the headspace to enjoy our daily performances. But years later, sometimes adults who were junior high students back then come up to me at our concerts in Niigata and say that our school performance was an experience they will never forget. Those words make me feel the legacy of our school tours, and the joy I had trouble sensing in them back then feels doubled this time around.

The months we spent at home this year while our activities were on hold has been filled with new challenges, including holding Earth Celebration online. This period, along with what we have built up to date through our School Tours, are both valuable assets to Kodo. As these difficult times continue, each and every one of us will pool our energy to keep our activities alive. We will work hard every day, hoping that the reverberations of our taiko can offer some comfort and a much-needed energy boost to many people.

I kindly ask all of you for your continued support and assistance.


Yuichiro Funabashi
Kodo Ensemble Leader





Call for Emergency Support


“Excited to Share ‘Michi’ with You!” by Yuichiro Funabashi

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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Erika Ueda

“Kodo One Earth Tour 2019: Michi” Japan Tour


Happy New Year

New Year’s Greeting from Kodo Ensemble Leader
Yuichiro Funabashi

Another new year has begun.
As 2019 starts, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your warm support that enabled our wide range of fulfilling work over the past twelve months.

We kicked off 2018 with the “Evolution” Europe Tour, then visited our 50th country to date: Egypt. In Japan, Kodo toured nationwide with “Michi,” performed at NHK Hall in a new collaboration with vocaloid Hatsune Miku, and fired up the main stage on Day 3 of Fuji Rock Festival ’18.

One of the year’s highlights was performing live music for new Kabuki work “Yugen” starring Tamasaburo Bando at Tokyo’s iconic Kabukiza Theatre. This month-long experience was a precious opportunity for us all.

2018 also marked a noticeable shift towards younger Kodo performers taking the creative reigns. We saw the directorial debut of Yuta Sumiyoshi with “MEGURU,” which premiered in November. Its inaugural tour in Japan ended on a high note with five days of concerts in Tokyo at Bunkyo Civic Hall. “Kodo Next Generation,” directed by Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga, ventured abroad for the first time for a summer series at Theatre du Soleil in Paris, France. Back at home, new School Workshop Performance and Kodo Interactive Performance programmes directed by Jun Jidai delighted school children and general audiences nationwide. These new directors from within the Kodo ensemble showed us dynamic power and their own unique flair, leaving us with a sense of Kodo’s future in their capable hands.

At the end of 2018, we all came together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Kodo’s Yoshikazu Fujimoto’s taiko performance career with commemorative concert “Taiko Warabe Gojunen.” I was deeply moved on this special occasion, where I am sure we all felt the magnitude of Yoshikazu’s history firsthand, reinforced by guest performances by Iwasaki Onikenbai and Wachi Daiko Hozonkai that reminded us of the power and splendor of performing arts.

In 2019, we plan to enrich not only our performance activities but also to pour more energy into workshops. We’re also going to be creating and sharing new music and focusing on fostering broader, deeper activities that bring our group closer to our audiences. We are working on new initiatives that we hope will bring even more people to theaters to enjoy taiko with Kodo.

Kodo remains dedicated to our dear home of Sado Island, one of the reasons we are passionate about our annual, deep-rooted local events Earth Celebration and the Kodo Sado Island Performances in Shukunegi. I hope we can expand our activities on Sado to include more tour productions, school performances, and workshops. We always craft sound and rehearse at Kodo Village before setting off on tour: Sado Island is where each journey starts for Kodo. This year I want us all to hold a renewed awareness of that fact.

Of course, you could say the real starting point for each Kodo performer is our apprentice Centre on Sado. It’s an precious environment where each individual has their eye on one main goal, training alongside their comrades, living an intense, communal lifestyle. This year, I want us each to think about our time at Kodo Apprentice Centre and reflect on the unique experiences we all had there, which were only possible by living and training at this marvellous place. I want us to share our experiences far and wide through increased exchange, both face to face and via social media.

None of our diverse activities leads us down the easiest path. I want us to keep tackling each challenge carefully and sincerely as we seek even better sound and create performances brimming with joy.

I sincerely hope that this year will be another great year for you all. I kindly ask for your continued support and encouragement throughout 2019.

Yuichiro Funabashi
January 2019

“Taiko Warabe Goju-nen”: Yoshikazu Fujimoto Performance Career 50th Anniversary Concert” by Yuichiro Funabashi

Hi everyone! How are you?

As you probably already know, Kodo’s last performance this year will be “Taiko Warabe Goju-nen,” a special concert commemorating Yoshikazu Fujimoto‘s 50th milestone year as a performer.

Photo: Erika Ueda

The other day, we had rehearsals at Kodo Village and Yoshikazu showed all the junior members (which in this case means everyone!) his body and soul approach in practice.

“Your passion shows on your face AND your back.”

Photo: Erika Ueda

When I heard him say that, I felt the weight of those fifty years in his embodiment of those words.

For this performance, we will welcome Iwasaki Onikenbai Hozonkai (Iwasaki Demon Sword Dance Preservation Society), who have taught Yoshikazu Fujimoto and Kodo for many years, and Wachi Daiko Hozonkai (Wachi Taiko Preservation Society) from Yoshikazu’s hometown, Wachi, where his taiko journey began. Kodo will be there right alongside these special guests and Yoshikazu, giving our all to celebrate our most senior member.

I am really looking forward to this performance!

Photo: Erika Ueda

Kodo’s latest production MEGURU will be on stage at Bunkyo Civic Hall until Dec. 23, the day before “Taiko Warabe Goju-nen” on Christmas Eve.
I really hope you’ll take this opportunity to see Kodo’s depth and breadth as an ensemble through both of these distinct concert programs.

As I said in my New-Year greeting for 2018:
“(Yoshikazu Fujimoto) is a man who has stood apart as a pioneer in performing arts and remains in a class of his own. Watching over and raising the next generation is very important, and we have learned the magnificence of undertaking these tasks ourselves by observing many performing arts. As we celebrate the career of our group’s most senior member, we would like to express our gratitude for Kodo’s ability to carry out a wide range of activities each year. The Kodo Group looks forward to congratulating Yoshikazu along with the entire audience who gathers for this auspicious event.”

Photo: Erika Ueda


“Taiko Warabe Goju-nen”: Yoshikazu Fujimoto Performance Career 50th Anniversary Concert
Dec 24 (Mon), 2018 Bunkyo Civic Hall Main Hall, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo

“Taiko Warabe Goju-nen” (Child of the Drum for 50 Years): Yoshikazu Fujimoto Performance Career 50th Anniversary Concert (Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo)

Kodo Blog Archive