Yesterday the Kodo Group gathered in the rehearsal hall at Kodo Village for a 2017 group portrait.
We kindly ask for your continued support throughout the year ahead.
Jan. 14, 2017
As you can see, Kodo Village is covered in deep snow and has been since we returned from our winter vacation.
Despite the cold conditions, we are all keeping well!
Today we enjoyed one of Kodo Village’s annual events: mochi making.
Mochi is a traditional Japanese pounded rice cake.
On behalf of Kodo, I will take this opportunity to ask all of you for your continued encouragement throughout the new year ahead!
Happy New Year, everyone!
A new year is a new start, so we planned this rehearsal period with that in mind.
We practised core pieces that Kodo has performed since its early days, such as “Miyake” and “Yatai-bayashi,” under the instruction of Kodo’s veteran members.
We were the only ones at Kodo Village and every day we made new discoveries and realizations. It was an opportunity for us all to reaffirm just how lucky we are to have a place where we can create sound all day long.
In 2017, we have all set our sights on new heights!
We hope you’ll cheer us on!
Happy New Year, everyone!
Late last year I was traveling through the USA. In case you missed it, here is a link to a blog post by Kodo staff member Yui Kawamoto who accompanied me for the first leg of my trip: [Kodo Blog] “Taiko Fun in Los Angeles!” by Yui Kawamoto
Starting in Los Angeles, I traveled to San Diego, Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York, to lead workshops and take part in concerts.
Everywhere I went, I met so many different people. Taiko players and musicians, and people who are neither. Each community I encountered welcomed me and I enjoyed all kinds of exchange during my stay. Sometimes it was through sightseeing. Sometimes it was over a drink. Sometimes it was during a jam session. I was so well looked after by all the people I spent time with everywhere I went.
If I start writing about what I did in each place, well, that will turn into a very long story… (lol)
So, I would like to write about some of what I felt and the lessons I learned during my travels in the US.
I planned this trip based on my own desire to see what I could do alone, as one person. Until now, I have always relied on the support of others in various ways… musically, linguistically (lol).
So I wanted to stand on my own two feet and face all those challenges myself. As I set off on this trip, I thought of it like a journey to gain and hone skills.
Instead of creating sound with a group (in my case, Kodo), on this journey all that sound would come from me. I mean that physically speaking it would be just me playing and that I would be responsible for the sound I created when I played with others. I wanted to step up to each occasion as myself, Yuta Sumiyoshi from within the Kodo group, and not as “Kodo.” I would appear alone in jam sessions, naturally, but I would carry that intent into my ensemble performances and workshops, too.
On this trip, I had many opportunities to improvise during performances. I rediscovered the sensation you get when the sound you create ignites your fellow performer, right there and then. It reminded me that when I play with Kodo that we absolutely need to feel that sensation during our performances, the sense of creating stimulus as we perform.
That sensation of spurring each other on when you perform on stage.
Noticing how good it feels, and how intense it feels until you reach that point.
Wondering how to get there. Wondering what kind of flow you want to create.
And it’s not just me playing, so I consider what kind of sounds can I create amongst different musicians. What sound do I want to create?
It’s like having a conversation with sound instead of words. (My communication in English is also like that at times, lol)
Next… I’ll play this! And I’ll add a break… here!
This back and forth becomes music and the interaction creates one big flowing dialogue.
These new sensations were really eye-opening and taught me so, so much.
The workshops I led in each place I visited were also really invigorating experiences for me. My mindset was to convey as much as possible without relying on an interpreter! (lol)
I have written about this before (maybe not in English) but in a workshop you appear as your real self. You can’t fake anything and you can’t pretend to be something you’re not. When I stand before others in a workshop, I can convey what I am particular about when I play and what I keep in mind in general. Each workshop was full of lessons for me, in the same way I learned a lot through each performance. In workshops, questions fly about from different perspectives than I am used to with Japanese people. Some questions are sharp and to the point, others are broad. In many instances, the questions I was asked made me suddenly aware of my feelings and theories about all sorts of things!
I could keep on writing about so many things, but there is too much to say and I still haven’t figured out how to sum up what I experienced on this trip. For now, I’m going to let it sink in, bit by bit, and I am going to share more thoughts with you all once the words come to me.
I am truly grateful to everyone who I met during my travels around the USA in late 2016. I am already looking forward to seeing you all again soon!
English follows Japanese.
We sincerely hope that 2017 is a wonderful year for all of you.
We wish you all a happy, healthy year ahead!
Thank you all for your continued support.
Dec. 27 was our last day of work for 2016.
We celebrated Kodo’s 35th anniversary in 2016, which was a year filled with new encounters around the world and exciting new challenges. We pushed ourselves to discover brand new possibilities in artistic expression. In this milestone year, we also made a giant leap towards the next era of our group.
In 2017, we look forward to sharing performances with you all that we hope will move you to the very core.
Thank you all for your continued support.
Best wishes from all of us for a happy, healthy new year.
Dec. 7, 2016
Hello, everyone. How are you?
The end of the year is upon us. How was this year for you? Personally, I became the Ensemble Leader of Kodo in the group’s 35th year and it feels like it was just the other day that I was penning my first greeting… that’s how fast this year has flown for me! Thanks to your support, the help from our senior members, and guidance from many people, Kodo has carried out a broad range of projects in many regions and countries. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to everyone who made our activities possible.
“Kodo One Earth Tour: Spiral” is currently in the final leg of its Japan tour. Since the premiere at Suntory Hall in August, the program has been gaining depth on the road with every performance. We really hope you will come along to the theater to experience the sound we have been crafting over the past months, and years. Let us “charge your batteries” with the sound of taiko so you can start the new year fully energized.
By the way, as the year’s end started to approach, I was doing some tidying and I came across a memo of a passage I had written down from an essay I read at the beginning of the year.
“Everything that grows changes. And it becomes more complex. With growth, how we think and behave becomes more complex, more multilayered, and we become more detailed and profound.”
These are the words* of philosopher and martial artist Tatsuru Uchida. They are words that express feelings of worry about Japan. He says Japan is moving backwards… that Japan’s sudden growth and changes are accompanied by fear and distortion. This is strikingly clear when you look at the political and economical situation in Japan and abroad.
*Note: This is an English translation of the original Japanese quote.
However, this year I took part in our “Chaos” and “Spiral” tours and these words made me think of Kodo, a group that is constantly trying to grow. In the middle of the growth process, we have a certain rawness. But I felt firsthand that Tamasaburo Bando used these productions to present Kodo with a future mission. This experience made me become determined to create performances that our audiences will thoroughly enjoy and to always share good sound.
Next year will begin with our “DADAN 2017″ USA Tour, “Hatsune Miku x Kodo Collaboration”, and encore performances of “Michi.” In spring, we will take the stage with Tamasaburo Bando for a brand new production, “Yugen.” As you can see, the first half of 2017 will be a very exciting, productive six months.
Next year, we will continue to pour our hearts into creating soul-stirring sound that will move and energize our audiences. We will do our very best to make next year a wonderful year. We wish you all a happy, healthy new year.
Yuichiro Funabashi, Ensemble Leader, Kodo
Our lastest album “Kaden” went on sale on this week!
“Kaden” features nine compositions from four recent “Kodo One Earth Tour” productions directed by Tamasaburo Bando: Legend, Mystery, Eternity, and Chaos. The tracks were captured with the latest high-resolution audio technology in a recording studio, allowing even the subtlest tones to interweave in unprecedented ways. Like a brand-new theater performance, this album creates a world of sound that promises to captivate and delight.
“Kaden” is available in the lobby at our “Spiral” performances at Bunkyo Civic Hall in Tokyo until Dec. 25. You can also purchase it from Kodo Online Store and at Sado Island Taiko Centre.
*Until 5pm (GMT+9) on Dec. 26 (Mon), Kodo Online Store is offering free shipping within Japan on all products except taiko & made-to-order products. If you’d like to use this offer, please order online from the Japanese store website or for English orders feel free to contact Kodo Online Store by email: store.eng[at]kodo.or.jp
▼Track Sample: “Kukai”
“Kaden” at Kodo Online Store in English (for international orders)
Kodo Online Store (Japanese) *Free shipping on domestic orders until 5pm (GMT+9) on Dec. 26, 2016
Kodo Discography | Kaden
Dec. 3, 2016
Hi, everyone! Today, I am reporting from Los Angeles, California.
I grew up in this sunny city up until I began working for Kodo, as one of the staff members who handles international projects.
I am currently back home to support the first portion of Yuta Sumiyoshi’s solo performances and workshops in the United States.
The United States have one of the largest taiko population outside of Japan, and the taiko culture that exists here is one of a kind.
Everyone who is affiliated with taiko is mostly connected through the taiko community, and we exchange new ideas and thoughts in full support of one another.
Today, I would like to talk about some of the American taiko culture that Yuta Sumiyoshi was able to experience during our time in Los Angeles.
The first thing we did after flying in was an intensive workshop at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute inside Asano Taiko USA.
Despite the fact that it was Thanksgiving weekend, we had a full house for Yuta’s 5-hour workshop!
We had a wide range of age and experience levels, and everyone had a fun, challenging time!
This was Yuta’s first time conducting a workshop in the U.S., and he was able to utilize his English skills that he’s been working on.
For this workshop, he taught on multi-drum set.
In America, shime taiko and okedo taiko are commonly used for a taiko set, but for this workshop, we used two drums with a closer tone to sing the rhythmic phrases, which may have led to some new discoveries for the participants.
And I also want to tell you all about collegiate taiko as well!
The number of collegiate taiko groups have increased throughout recent years and there are more than 15 collegiate taiko groups just in California.
The first ever collegiate group was formed in 1990 at my alma mater, UCLA, called Kyodo Taiko.
I believe that my current job at Kodo was made possible with what I gained through my collegiate taiko experience, and I was thrilled to be back to introduce one of our star performers, Yuta Sumiyoshi, for a workshop.
And of course the session was held in the parking structure of the university!
With so many active clubs on campus, it is always a challenge to find a good practice space that can accommodate the loud sound that the taiko makes.
Hearing the car alarms go off during the workshop reminded me of my college days practicing really hard all the time.
Many groups in the US plays on these taiko drums made out of wine barrels, beautifully refined for performance.
Not many collegiate taiko groups have the opportunity to learn from professionals in Japan, so I was excited to see everyone immersed in the workshop, and to hear them tell me, “That was the most fun I’ve had playing taiko in a very long time”.
Our time in Los Angeles will end with an exciting show which is already SOLD OUT!
On Ensemble is one of the most respected ensembles in the world, recognized for infusing the powerful rhythms of taiko with a wide range of musical influences from jazz and rock.
Joining On Ensemble is former Kodo performer Kaoru Watanabe from New York, to present new material from his album Néo, with Fumi Tanakadate, a multifaceted musician based in New York City, and our very own Yuta Sumiyoshi.
The complexity of the musical groove created by these musicians is like no other.
Several rehearsals have taken place so far in Los Angeles, and at last, the performance is tomorrow!
If you still want to check out what Yuta Sumiyoshi has been up to with his collaborations, he will also be in San Diego to guest appear in Kaoru Watanabe’s concert featuring his new album, Neo on December 5th!
Yuta Sumiyoshi Solo Projects in the USA (Nov.–Dec. 2016)
Today, I’d like to let you know about a special member of the Kodo family who needs your help.
Yamaimo-kun, nicknamed Spuddy in English due to his resemblance to a certain root vegetable, is one of the large taiko that lives at Sado Island Taiko Centre. He is one of two massive taiko at the Centre that were handmade by Kodo members. Yamaimo-kun and his friend Butabana-chan, a.k.a Miss Piggy, have been working hard at our centre since 2007 when it opened and they were completed. They welcome everyone who wants to have a hit and have become the mascots of our interactive facility.
After taking a beating almost every day for a decade, poor Spuddy now has holes in both of his heads. Shinchan-sensei has patched him up with small pieces of hide, but the bandages are only a temporary fix.
Since the beginning of the year, we have had a donation box at the Centre so that visitors can help us buy new heads for Spuddy. In eleven months, we have raised around 70,000 yen for his “treatment.”
Spuddy is a big boy and his heads are about 1.4m in diameter, so it will cost around 100,000 yen to fix him. We have decided to schedule this procedure during January when there are less visitors due to the cold winter season.
Now that winter is upon us, we have decided to try to raise the remaining funds required by asking for donations online.
If you would like to help us mend Spuddy, please contact the Kodo Cultural Foundation for further details. http://www.kodo.or.jp/foundation/index_en.html
Thank you in advance for your kindness!