Jan. 29, 2017
After the plane trip from Japan to the USA, the moment I arrived in Yakima felt like a baptism of sorts. I was plunged into a sub-zero world and I felt my body and soul flinch in the cold.
While it was freezing outside, all the locals were very kind and I felt their warmth through our interactions.
On and off stage, I truly felt firsthand that while we may live in different countries and have different cultures, all we need is the desire to share with one another for our hearts to communicate.
During our performance, we were uplifted by powerful applause, cheers, and whistles from the audience, and naturally we responded to each moment of “communication” with passion in each beat of our performance!
The DADAN 2017 USA Tour got off to a great start thanks to such a warm welcome and response in Yakima.
Now we are off to our next destination… I wonder what encounters await me today?
I will do my very best until the last performance of the tour and I plan to learn as much as possible during my travels.
Jan.–Mar. 2017 “DADAN 2017″ –Kodo 35th Anniversary Production– USA Tour
Jan. 24, 2017
I am about to set off on my last tour with Kodo, the “DADAN” USA Tour.
I am really looking forward to exchange with people in the USA through taiko and our performances!
We’ve just left Kodo Village for our North American tour of DADAN!
Sending us off were the newest members to the Kodo family- the junior members, fresh out of the Apprentice Centre.
Personally, it’s been four years since I’ve been back home in the US.
We look forward to seeing you all!
“DADAN 2017″ USA Tour –Kodo 35th Anniversary Production–
Performers: Masayuki Sakamoto, Yosuke Kusa, Yuta Sumiyoshi, Jun Jidai, Shunichiro Kamiya, Ryoma Tsurumi, Kengo Watanabe, Ryotaro Leo Ikenaga, Hayato Otsuka, Reo Kitabayashi, Issei Kohira, Masayasu Maeda, Koji Miyagi, Kodai Yoshida
*Cast is subject to change without notice.
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