Dec. 7, 2016
The Year’s End
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
New Album “Kaden” Now on Sale!
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
Taiko Fun in Los Angeles!
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)
Spuddy Needs Your Help
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!
Upcoming Kodo Collaboration with Virtual Singer Hatsune Miku!
“Two of Japan’s Renowned Artists Come Together for an Exciting New Collaboration!”
In the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, Japanese Broadcasting Company NHK will broaden the global spotlight on sports to also showcase Japan’s fascinating culture through their “This is NIPPON Premium Theater” series. These NHK productions will be broadcast nationwide and worldwide to share creative programs featuring an eclectic array of Japan’s preeminent artists, showcasing the dynamic spectrum of Japanese arts and culture.
In March 2017, Kodo will appear in “Hatsune Miku x Kodo Special Live,” taking to the stage with software-character-turned-virtual-singer Hatsune Miku for our first-ever collaboration. We look forward to this cutting-edge performance where traditional Japanese drums and internationally-renowned digital live-performance programming will create exciting new forms of fusion.
Hatsune Miku will perform brand new songs and a selection of her most popular numbers. She will also sing with Kodo, lending her vocals to some of our taiko compositions. We hope you’ll join us for this truly unique concert event!
This collaboration is part of the Tokyo 2020 Official Program.
Official Website: http://kodo-miku.com
This is NIPPON Premium Theater –Hatsune Miku x Kodo Special Live Performance
Mar. 4 (Sat), 5 (Sun), 2017 NHK Hall, Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
Mar. 4 (Sat) Doors Open 18:00, Start 19:00
Mar. 5 (Sun) Doors Open 12:00, Start 13:00
Price: S-seats 6,900 yen, A-seats 5,900 yen, B-seats 4,900 yen (Tax incl., same price for advance & door sales)
*Ticket holders will be given a limited-edition penlight at the venue in exchange for the “Penlight Voucher” issued with each concert ticket. Please be sure to bring both the concert ticket and “Penlight Voucher” with you to the venue.
Seating Details: All seats reserved. Please refrain from bringing preschoolers (ages 5 & under).
Ticket Sale Dates & Outlets:
Pre-Order Ticket Lottery: From 11:00am on Dec. 13 (Tue) until 11:00am on Dec. 20 (Tue), 2016
Ticket Pia Pre-Orders http://pia.jp/t/kodo-miku/ (Online, mobile phone)
General Sales: From 10:00am on Jan. 14 (Sat), 2017
Ticket Pia Online/Mobile http://w.pia.jp/t/kodo-miku/
Ticket Pia Automated Telephone Reservations Tel. 0570-02-9999 [P-code: 316-825] *Open 7 days, except during maintenance periods.
Ticket Pia Outlets: Hours vary according to store, see here for the list of outlets: Find a Ticket Pia Outlet (Japanese)
Seven Eleven Convenience Stores: Available from multi-copy machines [P-code: 316-825] *Open 7 days, except during maintenance periods.
Circle K Sunkus Convenience Stores: K Station [P-code: 316-825] *Available 5:30am–2:30am.
Inquiries: Hello Dial Tel. 03-5777-8600 (8:00–22:00, open 7 days)
The “Hatsune Miku” voice synthesizer software was developed by Crypton Future Media. It allows users to make a female character called Hatsune Miku sing songs, simply by entering the lyrics and melody of their choice. Many creators have used Hatsune Miku to make music to share online, which has prompted a wave of interactive user activity in Japan and abroad. First gaining attention as a software character, Hatsune Miku is now popular around the world as a virtual singer with sell-out live performances and her own merchandise. In 2016, she gave performances in five major cities throughout Japan, followed by performances in North America and Taiwan. In Dec. 2016, Hatsune Miku performances will be held in Beijing and Shanghai, China.
Official Website: http://piapro.net/
New Release: Kodo “Kaden”
Our new album “Kaden” will be released on Dec. 21 (Wed).
“Kaden” features nine original compositions that were created especially for our four recent “Kodo One Earth Tour” productions directed by Tamasaburo Bando: Legend, Mystery, Eternity, and Chaos. In September, we captured the tracks in the latest high-resolution audio at Sony Music Studios Tokyo.
Each piece was honed on stage through numerous performances, then carefully recorded as a unique work in its own right. Each and every instrument shines with clarity thanks to the studio recording and new high-resolution sound. We look forward to sharing this album with you all.
Kodo Discography | Kaden
Kodo “Kaden” will be on sale from Dec. 21 at Kodo performance venues in Japan and Kodo Online Store.
Artist Name: Kodo
4. Toki no Ma
6. Yogiri – Asayake Gumo
9. Kei Kei
Recorded: Studio recording at Sony Music Studios, Sep. 2016.
Release Date: Dec. 21, 2016
Price: 3,240 yen (tax inc.)
Media Type(s): CD, digital download, audio streaming
Product Code: OD-018
Sales Agency: Otodaiku
“Kodo Calendar 2017″ On Sale Now!
Our 2017 calendar features a bright array of colorful Kodo stage photos. It’s on sale now at Kodo Online Store, Kodo performance venues in Japan, and Sado Island Taiko Centre.
▼For details in Japanese, see here:
Kodo Online Store (Japanese)
Kodo Online Store (English)
On Our Travels
Hello, everyone. I hope you are all well.
In the past couple of years, Kodo has had more chances than usual to visit countries outside of Europe and North America. This year we gave performances in Vietnam, Brazil, and Korea. Last year we performed in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and Eastern Russia.
I visited three of these countries this year with Kodo:
- Brazil, just before the Olympic Games,
- Korea, which has a sense of distance from Japan these days that is not geographical,
- and Vietnam, whose considerable economic growth is being likened to that of our nation during its post-WW2 rapid economic growth period.
These concerts came about through rather challenging processes, unlike our established tours in Europe or North America, but the experiences we gained by spending quality time in these places with local people were all invaluable and rich. Above all, I was able to feel the power of performing arts and music, which bring people together for exchange that leads to mutual understanding.
While I am traveling, I have much more time to read books and articles than when I am at home on Sado Island. Some of my fellow Kodo members are also book lovers, so I often see people reading on the road as we travel from place to place. (Others listen to music, tap their drumsticks, watch performance videos, and so on.) Every day, I like to look through the newspaper, which is a habit I’ve somehow kept up since childhood.
On the road, one of the ways I enjoy my travels is by making a point of reading local newspapers and content related to the places we visit. This year I went to Brazil and Vietnam, so I read well-known travel journals by Kotaro Sawaki and Takeshi Kaiko. As I traveled from place to place, I wondered, “Is this the place he was talking about in his book?” If I have free time, going to a bookshop makes me feel refreshed. I am shocked to see that my bookshelves at home have suddenly become packed, but I think buying things that you like is a little investment in yourself. It enriches your soul. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself. When I buy and read books, I feel gratitude to everyone connected to their creation.
Less than two months remain in 2016 and we still have many places to visit on our travels.
As always, we will bring the “fruits” of our tours with us back to Sado Island, then set off again on further travels.
Yuichiro Funabashi, Kodo Ensemble Leader
Karuizawa Ohga Hall
On Saturday, we performed at Karuizawa Ohga Hall in Nagano Prefecture.
The hall is a pentagonal shape, which was apparently designed and calculated for the echo of sound inside. It is a wonderful venue.
The reverberations of our taiko were great, as was the weather in Karuizawa, so the combination of the location and day made for a really feel-good performance.
Tonight we have a performance in Iruma, Saitama.
2016 Japan Tour Schedule
Dec. 14 (Wed), 2016 Fukuoka Performance
Dec. 17 (Sat), 18 (Sun), 2016 Osaka Performances
Dec. 21 (Wed)–25 (Sun), 2016 Bunkyo Civic Hall, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo
Taiko Workshop & Exchange with Shiki Theatre Company
On Oct. 30, we hosted an exchange event at Kodo Apprentice Centre for Kodo and Shiki Theatre Company. The Company came to Sado to give performances of “The Adventures of Ganba” for fifth & sixth grade elementary school students from all over the island. As soon as they arrived on Sado, they came straight here to see us!
The Kodo apprentices welcomed the Company with a performance.
Kodo’s Eiichi Saito led a taiko workshop for our guests. He told them, “Feel everyone’s hearts connect as you play taiko together.”
We all enjoyed dinner together. The apprentices made curry from scratch and filled the tables with vegetable dishes made with fresh produce they harvested themselves. Of course, they also served up Sado’s famous “Okesa Kaki” persimmons. We had such a fun meal together. Most of our apprentices are around 20 years old and so were many of the Shiki Theatre Company performers. They also had an apprenticeship period in their training, so everyone had a lot in common. Everyone enjoyed talking to each other and it was a very fruitful exchange for all involved.
Shiki Theatre Company will perform on Nov. 1 at Amusement Sado for the children of Sado and our apprentices will help them out with the load-in and load-out.
Thank you for visiting us, Shiki Theatre Company! We are looking forward to seeing your performance! Break a leg!