Mr. Rokusuke Ei, a radio & television personality, essayist, broadcast writer and lyricist, passed away on July 7, 2016.
Mr. Ei was involved in the organization of "Ondekoza Summer School" in 1970, which led to the formation of Kodo's antecedent group Sado no Kuni Ondekoza, so he has always been one of Kodo's father figures. Since the very beginning, he has been the "longest serving member of our audience" and he has always offered us stern, sound advice as well as profound, loving words of wisdom.
Soon after Kodo was formed, Kodo performed in Asakusa for the first time in 1982 in a collaboration with Mr. Ei called "Rokusuke Ei + Kodo," a unique concert where customers could pay by tossing coins onto the stage at the end.
Mr. Ei visited us on Sado Island many times in the years that followed. In 1994, he performed at a pre-event for Earth Celebration, "Tent Theatre," with a cast of entertainers from Asakusa that included the late Yoshie Utsumi. Then 1996 and 1998, he joined us on stage at Amusement Sado for "Kodo de Asobo" (Fun with Kodo) performances. We are forever grateful to Mr. Ei for introducing us to folk singer Mr. Takio Ito, who continues to visit the Kodo Apprentice Centre each year to teach our apprentices. In other parts of Japan, we have joined Mr. Ei for a range of performances over the years, including a performance at the opening of the Tsuneichi Miyamoto Memorial Museum in Yamaguchi Prefecture. In recent years, Mr. Ei appeared as a guest at Chieko Kojima's "Beni no Kotobuki" performance in 2013, which was his last performance with Kodo.
"The taiko that you play are beautifully crafted objects, so people can appreciate them sufficiently merely by looking at them. They are works of art.
So, I want you to be like that. Show your presence just by being there, without doing anything.
If you face the drums with that presence, you will realize that you cannot play taiko half-heartedly. Only by facing the taiko with the purity of child will you be able to play those drums properly.
When you have that presence, that purity, you will be 'children of the drum.' You will be Kodo."
Kodo will treasure the many words of wisdom that we received from Mr. Ei over the years as we continue our activities with even more dedication.
Rokusuke Ei will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace.