I have decided to step down from the position of Kodo Ensemble Leader at the end of my four-year term on Dec. 31, 2015. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who supported me throughout my time as Ensemble Leader.
Looking back, I can honestly say it was difficult to decide whether or not I should accept such an important role and whether I was fit for the job. After all, I was only in my early forties and there are Kodo members with more seniority who have supported the group all along. But my fellow members nominated me for the role and in the end I decided that I would accept the position. Actually, my appointment as leader came during a huge structural reform within the Kodo group, so there was no precedent for most of the tasks that I faced. It was hard to get used to the role because I had to constantly figure things out as I went along. I hope to be forgiven for anything that I did not manage to accomplish as leader and for any times when I unwittingly caused trouble as I found my way.
Kodo will now be led by my successor, Yuichiro Funabashi, who will forge a new era alongside the young members of Kodo. I will be with them, pouring even more energy into my performances. I will also remain dedicated to the teaching and training of the next generation of Kodo members, ensuring that they all gain strong foundations as they strive for the stage.
Even though our performances change with the times, Kodo will always remain a group firmly centered on taiko. I sincerely ask for your continued support and encouragement in the years ahead. Thank you.
Tomohiro Mitome, Current Ensemble Leader
I will assume the role of Kodo Ensemble Leader from January 2016.
Next year, Kodo will celebrate its 35th anniversary. As we uphold the mission statement and history of our group to date, we now face the next era, ready to tackle a wide range of new challenges and make even greater strides forward.
Our works become more profound year by year under the direction of our artistic director, Tamasaburo Bando, as our relationship matures over time. Satisfying the demands of our artistic director's extraordinary vision is no easy task for the performers or the staff, but this is a path that Kodo must tread to move forward. As a performing arts ensemble, we are currently experiencing the most decadent of times.
During such a period, I was not expecting to be appointed to such an important position. However, our group currently has a wide age range, with performers aged from 20 to 65 years old, and I am right in the middle of that spectrum. There must be certain things that I can only do right now while I am at this interim age, so I decided to accept the position and do whatever I can for the ensemble.
I think that the four Distinguished Members, Eiichi Saito, and our current ensemble leader, Tomohiro Mitome, are all treasures of the Kodo ensemble. I think they are also treasures of the taiko world in Japan. Throughout the year, every determined young Kodo member performs and rises to new challenges on stage, so I think each one of them is our ensemble's valuable treasure, too. Every single Kodo performer represents the Kodo ensemble. I think that it is my duty to create an environment where my respected fellow performers can flourish more than ever before in all of their activities, both physically and mentally. Also, I feel that it is my responsibility to connect people: my colleagues from the various organizations of the Kodo group, the senior and junior Kodo members, and all the people who facilitate our various activities.
These days, it is difficult to see where Japanese society is headed and world affairs are in turmoil. Our world faces a bumpy road ahead, but if we look back in history, we can see that no society has ever been free from worries. To create a bright future, we need to have a strong spirit and keep forging ahead.
Personally, I will focus more closely on taiko, enrich my creative activities, and continue to enjoy my work on stage. I love Kodo and I will dedicate myself to making it an even better group.
Kodo supporters, I kindly ask you all for your continued advice and encouragement.
Yuichiro Funabashi, New Ensemble Leader