鼓童ブログ Kodo Blog

“A Living, Breathing Legacy” by Yuichiro Funabashi


A Living, Breathing Legacy

鼓童村の中庭

Hello, everyone! How are you?
We finished our two-month-long tours last month and we are currently rehearsing at kodo Village, preparing for our back-to-back August performances at Suntory Hall in Tokyo and at Earth Celebration on Sado Island.

Recently, Mr. Isao Tomita and Mr. Rokusuke Ei passed away, which meant two great losses for the Kodo Group. Personally, I barely had the chance to interact with either of them directly, but I know that the generosity and spirit that they gave to the Kodo Group is immeasurable and I believe that their “gifts” will continue to live and breathe within our group.

冨田さんとの集合写真(2008年鼓童村稽古期間に撮影)

Group photo with Mr. Tomita during rehearsals at Kodo Village in 2008

Several years ago, when I was performing at a small theater with Kodo, the curtain rose and there sat Mr. Isao Tomita, smiling in the front row. After the performance, he came and talked to us candidly, happily sharing memories from the time he spent at Kodo Village during the recording of the album he made with Kodo. I also recall that he went on to tell us about his experience of the 1945 Mikawa Earthquake and how there was almost no aid due to the restrictions of the war at the time, nor was there hardly any media coverage of the disaster. At the end of 2015, we told Mr. Tomita that we would perform “Song of the Universe” at our 2016 concert at Suntory Hall, which he composed years ago during his stay at Kodo Village. He was so pleased to hear that and he even gave us some new revisions to make to the piece. Through the sounds he created, I can feel his heart and wonderful musicality.

永六輔さん(2003年鼓童村にて)Photo: Buntaro Tanaka

Mr. Rokusuke Ei at Kodo Village in 2003

When I was a Kodo apprentice, Kodo held concerts called “Kodo de Asobo” and Mr. Rokusuke Ei was the MC for those performances. I remember that he got the apprentices up on stage with the Kodo members and special guests, and got the whole audience involved in the fun as he ran around the stage between everyone. He often came to Sado Island to attend our performances, too. When we tour, we often go to places that I think I would never have visited if it weren’t for Kodo, and it is invariably in those places where I learn many new things. Our tours are put into practice the advice of folklorist Tsuneichi Miyamoto, who told the founders of our group to go to the regional areas of the country, as far as radio signal reaches, and to report back to Tokyo through the radio waves what we found there. When I think about those words and our connection to Mr. Ei, a radio and television broadcaster, it makes me reflect on our tour and our hopes as we travel and perform all over Japan and the world.

Something that I feel that both Mr. Tomita and Mr. Ei have in common is their strong belief in what they see and experience firsthand, their keen perception of society, and the way they look at people with deep affection.

Lastly, I would like to share a letter with you that Mr. Ei wrote to Kodo.

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“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.”

Rokusuke Ei


I sincerely hope that Mr. Tomita and Mr. Ei rest in peace.

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Film “The Ondekoza” to Screen at The 73rd Venice International Film Festival


Tai Kato Film ‘The Ondekoza’ to Screen at The 73rd Venice International Film Festival


The 1979 film about Kodo’s antecedent group Sado no Kuni Ondekoza, entitled “The Ondekoza,” has been selected as one of two films from Japan to screen in the Classic Category of the 2016 Venice International Film Festival from Aug. 31 through Sep. 10. The other film from Japan is Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.”

http://www.labiennale.org/en/cinema/news/22-07.html

WEB「シネマズ」より

Photo courtesy of Web Cinemas by Shochiku

This screening commemorates the 100th birthday of director Tai Kato. The film will also be shown in Japan from Nov. 19 through 27 at Tokyo Filmex. Further screenings are also being planned.

 

 

 


“Moved to the Core” by Kosuke Urushikubo


Moved to the Core

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Hello, everyone. How are you?
It has become really hot in Japan recently and the cicadas have already started chirping. I was on tour for the past couple of months with the School Workshop & Interactive Performances. We have completed our Spring–Summer 2016 tour and returned to Sado Island last week. I will be leaving Kodo soon, so my final performances will be the 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts in Tokyo and at Earth Celebration on Sado this August.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto

During my final tour, we mainly performed for school children in Kumamoto, Iwate, Niigata, and Hyogo Prefectures. We encountered a wide range of students on tour. Some of the pupils had never heard taiko before, some of them play taiko regularly, and some of them told us that our performance had made them want to start playing taiko.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

In a world that is becoming more and more modern, I would like for children to not be only interested in the latest or most convenient things. I want them to know about classic or traditional things and then, based upon that knowledge, I want them to consider various new things. This is what I had in mind when I performed at schools on this tour.

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When our performances would end, one student would share their impressions with us on behalf of the student body. I was really happy to hear some of them say things like, “It was my first time hearing taiko and it was interesting,” or “I want to explore Japanese music as well from now on.” At times, I felt my tears join the sweat on my face as they spoke to us.

I mentioned that our performances were mainly in four different prefectures on this tour. And they all have something in common: earthquakes. These four areas have experienced particularly large earthquakes. I heard locals talking about their experiences during and after the earthquakes and it was all unbelievable and unimaginable for me. Some taiko groups lost their practice space and instruments due to the damage from these earthquakes. My heart ached to hear about it all.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto

However, the people we met in these places had not lost their smiles. Some of them said to us, “The gods are telling us we can recover from this.” We had a chance to perform for people who were greatly affected by these devastating earthquakes and after our performances some of them said things to us like, “You’ve given me power to face tomorrow,” and “I feel confident again.” Personally, I was so happy to have so many wonderful encounters on my final School Workshop & Interactive Performance tour. I was happy to hear that I was able to help people in even a small way.

Photo: Ryoko Iwamoto
I sincerely hope they will recover from those disasters really soon. I hope our Interactive Performance tour will always continue, too.
Thank you very much to everyone who looked after us throughout our tour.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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“Minakuchi Bayashi Lecture & Demo at EC” by Eri Uchida


Earth Celebration 2016
Minakuchi Bayashi Lecture & Demo

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This year we will present a Minakuchi Bayashi lecture & demonstration at Earth Celebration! If you’re making the trip all the way to Sado this summer, I hope you’ll join us to take a step even deeper into the world of Japanese performing arts through learning about Minakuchi Bayashi, one of Shiga Prefecture’s intangible folk cultural assets. Come along to hear all about this folk art and watch a demonstration of Minakuchi Bayashi, featuring a few Kodo members, too! Then some attendees will have a chance to play Minakuchi Bayashi with us. This event will be conducted in Japanese, and English support will be provided as required.

 

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The Kodo members who will take part in this event are busy practicing Minakuchi Bayashi in preparation for the demo and Fringe performances. We look forward to seeing you all at Marine Plaza on the second day of EC (Saturday Aug. 27) to enjoy Minakuchi Bayashi.

(PS: It’s air-conditioned so it will be cool and fun!)

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Earth Celebration 2016 (Sado Island, Niigata, Japan)
Aug. 27 (Sat) 14:00–15:30 Minakuchi Bayashi Lecture & Demo at Marine Plaza Ogi (2F)

Facilitator: Eri Uchida (Kodo)

Inquiries: Kodo Ticket Service

  • Tel. 0259-86-2330(Mon–Fri 9:30–17:00)Fax. 0259-86-3631 
  • Email: ticket@kodo.or.jp

Event Details: http://www.kodo.or.jp/ec/en/event/lecture/mizuguchi/


“Last Chance to Apply for ‘Kodo Juku 2016′!” by Michiko Chida


Last Chance to Apply for “Kodo Juku 2016″

 

This year we will hold Eiichi Saito’s annual live-in taiko workshop “Kodo Juku” from Oct. 7 (Fri) through 10 (Mon/Public Hol.) at the Kodo Apprentice Centre on Sado Island. Eiichi Saito took over the reigns to facilitate Kodo Juku in 1992 and back then we held Kodo Juku 4 times a year. For some time now, we have held it just once a year but one thing that has barely changed is the content. Each year the participants tell us how the simple taiko drum led them to find new connections between their own body and soul and helped them to create wonderful new bonds with people they had only just met at the workshop.

Everyone is welcome at Kodo Juku, whether you’ve played taiko before or not. First-timers will discover the special power of taiko and experienced players will discover many hints to playing taiko that truly moves people. The only condition is that you’ve never been to Eiichi Saito’s Kodo Juku before, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime workshop with no repeaters or groups of 2 or more.

The application deadline is July 30, so don’t delay! We look forward to receiving your application soon and welcoming you to Sado Island for Kodo Juku this autumn.

>>See here for details!

提供:鼓童文化財団
Eiichi Saito says “Join me for Kodo Juku on Sado Island!”

提供:鼓童文化財団
Early morning stretch time at Kodo Juku 2015

提供:鼓童文化財団
Jogging in the morning with the apprentices

提供:鼓童文化財団
Eat, sleep, and play taiko!

提供:鼓童文化財団

Workshops are held in the Kodo Apprentice Centre gym, where the apprentices spend two years training in hopes of one day performing on stage with Kodo.

提供:鼓童文化財団
Preparations for each Kodo Juku begin 8 months prior with a lot of enthusiasm!

提供:鼓童文化財団

The second year apprentices act as staff during Kodo Juku each year, learning valuable skills as they host the participants. Eiichi and the apprentices can’t wait to welcome everyone to Kodo Juku this fall!

Kodo Juku: Eiichi Saito’s Taiko Workshop

Oct. 7 (Fri)–10 (Mon/Public Hol.), 2016 Kodo Apprentice Centre, Kakinoura, Sado Island, Niigata

Details for Kodo Juku 2016
http://www.kodo.or.jp/ws/juku_eiichi_en.html


“A New Endeavor” by Yuichiro Funabashi


A New Endeavor

Hello, everyone. How are you doing?

Time flies! All of a sudden, it’s the second half of the year. Kodo has been on tour throughout Japan for the past two months. Next month, we will hold our 35th Anniversary Commemorative Concerts in Tokyo and festival “Earth Celebration” (EC) on Sado Island.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Our farewell to everyone who joined us for EC 2015: Okuri Daiko (Farewell Taiko) at Ogi Port.

As previously announced, EC is making a shift from being an event centered on outdoor concerts to a festival that aims to create a new “community” with roots in the local area. Many Kodo members spend a large portion of each year away from Sado Island. While we enjoy touring and sharing performances on the road, we want to take a fresh look at the place we call home, Sado Island, and think about how we can create our own deeper roots here on the island, too. By reconsidering the significance of our travels and our home, we hope our many activities will generate new energy and exchange here on the island.

月間鼓童より

 

Top Left: Food and drinks at Vietnamese New Year with a performance by Mr. Min Chi

Top Right: At the entrance to the rehearsal space & accommodations where Mr. Min Chi resides, home to a Cheo troupe.
Bottom Left: Musical exchange in a traditional bamboo house.

Bottom Right: Trying to play a Vietnamese stringed instrument with the help of a master of traditional music.

In February, during our winter, a few of us went to Vietnam and met the guest artists for this year’s EC, traditional music arts ensemble Bac Ha. I am truly looking forward to seeing them again and collaborating with them this summer in Japan. Just reminiscing about the energy of the festival we experienced with them in Hanoi makes my heart leap with excitement. The history of Vietnam is full of hardships and the current state of affairs is complex, but their pride and love for their performing arts remains very strong. This summer, we are not holding large concerts in front of many people at EC. Instead, we look forward to the chance to interact with our guests in a relaxed, fun way and to share that time with our audience in close proximity. We hope to learn from each other and that we will establish connections that lead to further performances and exchange on future occasions in different places.

Photo: Takuro Susaki

EC will also present “EC Theatre” and Fringe Stage performances, where Kodo members can share new creative performances alongside other artists. Kodo members will also actively take part in the Sado Island Experience Programmes and workshops on offer, so we can spend time enjoying Sado Island with all the people who come along for EC.

ECサイトより
This year’s EC is a new endeavor, so it will take some figuring out and getting used to for all of us. I truly hope EC will become an occasion for the participants, performers, and staff to enjoy a very special, meaningful, enjoyable time on Sado Island alongside the locals. We look forward to welcoming you to Sado Island for EC this August. See you there!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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Earth Celebration 2016

Aug. 26 (Fri)–28 (Sun), 2016

Sado Island, Niigata, Japan

http://www.kodo.or.jp/ec/

https://www.facebook.com/EarthCelebration/


Mr. Robert Lepage Visits Kodo Village


Mr. Robert Lepage Visits Kodo Village

We had the pleasure of welcoming Mr. Robert Lepage to Kodo Village the other day. He is an actor and stage director who is renowned for his creative work directing productions such as Cirque du Soleil’s KA and TOTEM.

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Taiko Experience at Sado Island Taiko Centre

Photo: Yui Kawamoto

Many of Kodo’s performers and staff are big fans of his work, and we are very happy to hear that he has been a fan of Kodo for many years as well!
We are truly thankful for this lovely encounter.

2016年6月30日 鼓童村・食堂にて

In the Dining Hall at Kodo Village on June 30, 2016 (From left: Yui Kawamoto, Takao Aoki, Mr. Robert Lepage, Mr. Christian Garon, Atsushi Sugano)


“Pounding Furiously” by Yuta Sumiyoshi


Pounding Furiously

Only three weeks remain on our current “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Chaos” Japan Tour. This production is a rather experimental performance and I have heard a range of feedback, both positive and negative. So, while it is towards the end of the tour, I thought I would take the time to talk about my feelings towards “Chaos” and share them with you all.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

I play the drums, a Western drum kit, in this performance. Do you think I wanted to play the drums?

Well, honestly, I was really reluctant about it! (lol)

I am not sure whether reluctant is the right choice of word, but anyway, from the beginning I had this constant feeling of “We are taiko players, so why are we playing the drums?” That feeling got in my way and it stopped me from getting into our drum rehearsals properly. I was wondering if I should be playing the drums at all and I had a kind of restlessness that wouldn’t go away.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

We learned to play the drums little by little, starting our practice about three years before the premiere of “Chaos.” But it took ages for me to be able to feel like, “OK! Let’s do this!” and to really put my all into it.


The biggest change in how I felt came one day during our drum practise. I think it was about six months before “Chaos” premiered. Yosuke Oda, Masayuki Sakamoto and I were side by side pounding the drums furiously. Drummer Tetsuya Kajiwara was yelling out the count for us, “One! Two! Three! Four!,” and we just kept on beating the drums with all our might. The sweat poured off us. We lost ourselves in the drums, just pummelling them relentlessly.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Then, that night after the practice, I noticed for the first time that the air in the rehearsal hall felt the same as when we have been practicing Yatai-bayashi non-stop, which is a traditional Japanese festival taiko piece as well as an iconic Kodo stage piece. It’s also the first thing that all Kodo apprentices learn to play during their training.

After we play Yatai-bayashi non-stop, a faint ringing lingers in our ears and a slight heat and smell of sweat lingers in the air.
When I noticed that sense, I thought: “It’s the same…”

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

The act of pounding something furiously. Perhaps it is the hunting instinct that lies deep within all human beings. When we face the taiko drum, that overwhelming primal urge to pound it arises from deep inside. It’s not an emotion like anger, it’s an instinct. It’s like a roar within you.

The feeling of your soul stirring and trembling.

At last, I felt that sense, that roar, when I was playing the drums. That roar that emerges when I play taiko.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
There are different cultures such as Western, Eastern, and Japanese, but this sense goes beyond any of those definitions, or rather, it comes from somewhere deep within all of them.

I am Japanese, I am a taiko player, but this sense is deeper than that. It is part of my identity as a human being.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Well, I’m not really sure which words I should use to express what I’m feeling, but I can say that I felt this sensation intuitively.

So, getting back to the topic, some people see “Chaos” and say, “Why don’t you just play taiko?” Actually, I have always played taiko thinking that it was the right instrument for me.

I think everyone has a set idea about what taiko is, or should be. Not only taiko players, but also our audiences have a set idea about what they expect when they hear the word “taiko.” Taiko is an instrument created by using the trunk of a tree that is centuries old and covering it with animal hides. So it has a lot of life force and history within it. Whether it is on the surface or otherwise, as I said, the person who beats it will feel their soul stir. But I think most people take that for granted and don’t really give it a second thought most of the time.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

So for us, beating an instrument for this performance that is not a Japanese taiko drum has led to many new realizations… and questions like these:

If we pound drums with plastic heads… can we convey the same soul stirring roar? Can we move people with our drumming, without the power of our taiko drums?

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
I think it would be great if we could do the same thing a puppeteer does on stage.
You may look at a puppeteer and think: Why do you use a puppet? You are a human, and humans can express many different emotions and move so fluidly. So you could express yourself better without the puppet.
But by expressing yourself through a puppet, something that is lifeless and inorganic, you are pushed to tap into the essence of your expression to make the puppet come to life so you can convey your intentions to the audience.

So I hope we can do the same thing using drums instead of taiko for this performance. By pounding the drums instead of taiko, I hope that we can tap into the soul and “roar” behind our drumming. I hope that it will become even more apparent to our audiences.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
Of course, it’s not all about pummeling the drums like a maniac. By learning to play the drums and practicing hard, I have learned many new things related to music and technique that I would not have felt or discovered if I had continued to only play taiko.

 

When I perform on stage in “Chaos,” I try to put all these feelings, and everything I have learned through this production, into each performance.

We still have a few performances left on this tour and I really hope you will come along to see this production live on stage. I hope we can stir something deep within our audiences with our drumming, regardless of the instrument.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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United States of America Ambassador to Japan Attends “Spirited Summer” Performance


United States of America Ambassador to Japan Attends “Spirited Summer” Performance in Asakusa

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Ambassador Kennedy (center) with guests from the US Embassy In Tokyo join the Kodo members on stage after the performance at Asakusa Public Hall on July 1, 2016

Over the weekend, the United States of America Ambassador to Japan, Her Excellency Ms., Caroline Kennedy, attended our “Spirited Summer” performance in Asakusa, Tokyo.

She visited us at Kodo Village last week, so it was wonderful to see her two weekends in a row. It was such an honor to see that she had enjoyed our concert.

Ambassador Kennedy, thank you very much for coming along!

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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news20160701wakainatsuKodo Special Performance in Asakusa “Spirited Summer”
July 1 (Fri)–3 (Sun), 2016 Asakusa Public Hall, Taito Ward, Tokyo
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20160701asakusa_en.html


Sincere Thanks & “Spirited Summer” Photo Gallery


Thank You for Joining us for “Spirited Summer”!

Photo: Erika Ueda
Kodo’s “Spirited Summer” was held at Asakusa Public Hall from July 1st through 3rd and we were delighted to welcome many people to each of the five performances. Thank you all for your warm support and making this special work a success. We sincerely thank everyone who traveled to Asakusa to see us from all over Japan and abroad. We have shared a selection of photos from this performance below.

Photo Gallery

Kodo Special Performance in Asakusa “Spirited Summer”

Photos by Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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