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“The Year’s End” by Yuichiro Funabashi


Dec. 7, 2016

The Year’s End

Photo: Erika Ueda
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.

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“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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto
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.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Rehearsals at Kodo Village for “Yugen” (Nov. 2016)

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


“A New Season Begins” by Tomohiro Mitome


Apr. 1, 2015

Hello, everyone! I hope you are well.
This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo.

Now that it’s April on Sado Island, spring has arrived and buds are appearing on the branches of the cherry trees.

In Japan, both the new work year and school year start in April.
At Kodo, it’s the time of year when we welcome new apprentices. The Year 34 class are about to arrive at the Kodo Apprentice Centre to start their lives as apprentices. I am sure they will all head to Sado with high expectations, some apprehension, and huge dreams.

Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Hekireki from “Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Mystery” (Brooklyn, New York, USA) ©Julieta Cervantes

Our first tour this year, the “Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Mystery” North America Tour, concluded successfully thanks to all of your support. I would like to express our gratitude to all the staff members involved, the presenters, and everyone who attended our performances.

The Kodo members that remained in Japan spent March giving a variety of small-ensemble and solo performances in so many places. On March 15, we even had 4 different performances in 4 different places at the same time: Iizaka in Fukushima, Kurashiki in Okayama, as well as Seiro and Joetsu in Niigata. The performers and staff were hurtling around Japan at a great pace.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Also, we had Kodo Special Performance 2015 “Michi” at Kanagawa Arts Theatre (KAAT) in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, on March 19 & 20. Although these two performances were held on weekdays, we were greeted by full houses on both dates. I believe that the programme was nostalgic for long-time Kodo fans and supporters, yet would have felt brand new to audiences who started to attend Kodo performances in recent years.

 

By presenting an orthodox “Classic Kodo” programme with new members, I am confident that we were able to produce a whole new work, not just an “encore” performance. During our rehearsals, all the performers had the chance to see what makes us “Kodo,” or what Kodo holds dear, in a new light: how to perform, how to change sets (instruments and stands) between pieces, how to walk on stage, and so on. While recognizing all of this anew, the senior members were able to hand these core elements down to the younger, next-generation members. The newer members did their best to absorb the valuable knowledge and experience shared by the senior members, which they had accumulated over the years.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

While maintaining our core, the foundations Kodo has forged over the past 34 years, it is vital for the current Kodo ensemble to gain new strength so we can survive in a new era. The new forms of expression we are exploring now are very important because they will help Kodo to evolve and continue its activities for many years to come. I think the fruits of this special performance, “Michi,” will also become apparent in the future. I hope that we can continue to provide opportunities for you to experience the core and roots of Kodo in various forms of expression.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

In April, all the Kodo members return to Sado Island and gather for rehearsals. We will work hard together as we create brand new productions and prepare for “Amaterasu” and our upcoming tours. We look forward to sharing them with you on stage soon.

 

tomohiro_s


Photo Gallery: Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”


Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Thank you very much to everyone who joined us for “Michi” on Mar. 19 & 20 (Fri) at KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre in Yokohama. We welcomed full houses to both of the performances. Here are some of photographs from this special concert.

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

Photo: Takashi OkamotoPhoto: Takashi Okamoto

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Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150319michi_en.html

Director: Motofumi Yamaguchi

Programme: Michi, Zoku, Jang-Gwara, Chonlima, Shamisen, Monochrome, Miyake, Sankan Shion, Yamauta, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi
Photos: Takashi Okamoto

Mar. 18 Appearance on TV Kanagawa “tvk Arigato”


Appearance on TV Kanagawa “tvk Arigato” (Thanks tvk)

On Mar. 18 (Wed) at around 13:10, Kodo will appear live on TV program “tvk Arigato.” If you live in Kanagawa, we hope you’ll tune in!

tvkmember

TV Kanagawa “tvk Arigato”
Mar. 18 (Wed) *Kodo will appear around 13:10–13:25.
Appearances: Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi

Program Website: http://www3.tvk-yokohama.com/arigato/

This week we have two Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi” performances in Yokohama, on Mar. 19 & 20!

These two performances are almost completely sold out. If you want to see “Michi,” don’t delay! Call for your tickets today!
Inquiries: tvk Ticket Counter Tel. 0570-00-3117 (Weekdays 10:00–18:00) http://www.tvkcom.net/

▶Watch on YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1N2ME9rH4E

news20150319michi
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150319michi_en.html

Director: Motofumi Yamaguchi
Performers: Eiichi Saito, Tomohiro Mitome, Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Kenta Nakagome, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi, Maya Minowa, Ryosuke Inada, Reo Kitabayashi, Masaya Koike, Mizuki Yoneyama (Cast subject to change)
Programme: Zoku, Jang-Gwara, Chonlima, Michi, Shamisen, Monochrome, Miyake, Sankan Shion, Yamauta, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi

Full Dress Rehearsal on Sado Island for “Michi”


KODO2015-FB04-michi_ja

We will hold performances of Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi” in Yokohama on March 19 & 20.
On March 12, we had a full dress rehearsal on Sado Island. We invited some of our friends on Sado Island to be the audience for this rehearsal, so if you came along, thank you very much for joining us!

Photo: Erika UedaPhoto: Erika Ueda
Photo: Erika Ueda

These two performances are almost completely sold out. If you want to see “Michi,” don’t delay! Call for your tickets today!
See you there in Yokohama!

▶Watch on YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1N2ME9rH4E

news20150319michi
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150319michi_en.html

 

Director: Motofumi Yamaguchi
Performers: Eiichi Saito, Tomohiro Mitome, Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Kenta Nakagome, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi, Maya Minowa, Ryosuke Inada, Reo Kitabayashi, Masaya Koike, Mizuki Yoneyama (Cast subject to change)
Programme (TBC): Zoku, Jang-Gwara, Chonlima, Michi, Shamisen, Monochrome, Miyake, Sankan Shion, Yamauta, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi

“In Preparation for ‘Michi’” by Tsuyoshi Maeda


Feb. 14, 2015

Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Photo: Erika UedaPhoto: Erika Ueda

This month we began our rehearsals for Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi,” which will be held at KAAT Kanagawa Arts Theatre in Yokohama on March 19 & 20. The programme is nothing but “Kodo classics.” We have taken the pieces that Kodo has honed over the past decades and let our current members recreate them.

For a couple of years, we have been working on all kinds of new challenges and taken a break from the fundamentals of Kodo to date, such as our signature pieces and costumes. With that distance comes new realizations about things until now that had never occurred to us before. It has been a period for us to find out about what defines us as “Kodo” beyond our name.

Photo: Erika UedaPhoto: Erika Ueda

Now, at this particular point in time, we will hold this special concert, Michi, which means “road” or “path.”

Chonlima, Monochrome, Miyake, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi. We have taken a look at an array of classic Kodo pieces anew. Personally, I deeply feel that a special Kodo aura radiates from within each of these “classic Kodo performance” pieces.

Photo: Erika Ueda

During our rehearsals for Michi, the senior members remind us about our stance, the nuance of each rhythm, how to approach the taiko mentally and emotionally, and they performed with us for the first time in quite a while. This really emphasized to me where my weaknesses lie, and it also made me realize just how high our seniors have set the bar with their own skills.

Rehearsing feels like I’m banging into a wall that I can’t climb over yet, and while I completely frustrate myself everyday, I can also feel a fire burning my belly ignited by motivation. In any case, I am learning a lot every day.

Photo: Satoko Maeda
In Japanese, onkochishin is a phrase we use at times like these, which means “to attempt to discover new things by studying the past.” I can reaffirm what is important for Kodo, what Kodo must never lose, through these rehearsals for Michi. And I want to make a good use of what I learn in brand new creations, too.

tsuyoshi_s

 

▶Watch on YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1N2ME9rH4E

news20150319michi
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150319michi_en.html

 

Director: Motofumi Yamaguchi
Performers: Eiichi Saito, Tomohiro Mitome, Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Kenta Nakagome, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi, Maya Minowa, Ryosuke Inada, Reo Kitabayashi, Masaya Koike, Mizuki Yoneyama (Cast subject to change)
Programme (TBC): Zoku, Jang-Gwara, Chonlima, Michi, Shamisen, Monochrome, Miyake, Sankan Shion, Yamauta, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi

“The Road to ‘Michi’–Part 3″ by Mitsunaga Matsuura


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As the performers rehearse, it feels like each beat creates a “pellet” of sound.

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The rehearsal hall is filled with sound pellets, fired from every instrument.

DSC_3768_1DSC_3619_1

▶YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1N2ME9rH4E

news20150319michi
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150319michi_en.html


Director: Motofumi Yamaguchi
Performers (TBC): Eiichi Saito, Tomohiro Mitome, Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Kenta Nakagome, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi, Maya Minowa, Ryosuke Inada, Masaya Koike and Mizuki Yoneyama
Programme (TBC): Zoku, Jang-Gwara, Chonlima, Michi, Shamisen, Monochrome, Miyake, Sankan Shion, Yamauta, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi

“The Road to ‘Michi’–Part 2″ by Mitsunaga Matsuura


Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Photo: Mitsunaga MatsuuraPhoto: Mitsunaga MatsuuraPhoto: Mitsunaga Matsuura

This programme is filled with moments to let each individual shine, showcasing their own uniquely honed skills.

▶Watch on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1N2ME9rH4E

news20150319michi
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150319michi_en.html

Director: Motofumi Yamaguchi
Performers: Eiichi Saito, Tomohiro Mitome, Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Kenta Nakagome, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi, Maya Minowa, Ryosuke Inada, Yuki Kajiro, Masaya Koike and Mizuki Yoneyama (Cast subject to change)
Programme (TBC): Zoku, Jang-Gwara, Chonlima, Michi, Shamisen, Monochrome, Miyake, Sankan Shion, Yamauta, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi


“The Road to ‘Michi’–Part 1″ by Mitsunaga Matsuura


Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Photo: Mitsunaga Matsuura

Even though these are such familiar pieces, they filled the rehearsal hall with a wave of fresh air.

Photo: Mitsunaga MatsuuraPhoto: Mitsunaga MatsuuraPhoto: Mitsunaga MatsuuraPhoto: Mitsunaga Matsuura

▶Watch on YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1N2ME9rH4E

news20150319michi
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150319michi_en.html

Director: Motofumi Yamaguchi
Performers: Eiichi Saito, Tomohiro Mitome, Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Kenta Nakagome, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi, Maya Minowa, Ryosuke Inada, Yuki Kajiro, Masaya Koike and Mizuki Yoneyama (Cast subject to change)
Programme (TBC): Zoku, Jang-Gwara, Chonlima, Michi, Shamisen, Monochrome, Miyake, Sankan Shion, Yamauta, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi


“A 15mm World” by Maya Minowa


The rehearsals for Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi” are well underway.

At this performance, I will become the first-ever female Kodo performer to play Monochrome on stage.

Photo: Mitsunaga Matsuura

We have to use such precision when we practice Monochrome… you could cut through the tension in the rehearsal hall with a knife.

Photo: Erika Ueda

The pianissimo parts in this composition are played in a tiny 15mm world. We have to control our drumsticks to make strokes within this minute range. Eiichi Saito says, “Don’t move your sticks up and down, just let them fall from your tanden (core/abdomen).” But this drumming technique is far more difficult than I had ever imagined. (Apparently, in the old days, Kodo members would light a candle and practice drumming like this until it had burned down completely.)

Photo: Erika Ueda

My practice for this piece is rather stoic and subtle and it makes me connect an array of nerves that I never had to think about before.
I hope you will join us for Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi” next month.

mitsuru_s

▶Watch on YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1N2ME9rH4E

news20150319michi
Kodo 2015 Special Concert “Michi”

Mar. 19 (Thu)–20 (Fri), 2015 Yokohama, Kanagawa
http://www.kodo.or.jp/news/20150319michi_en.html

Director: Motofumi Yamaguchi
Performers: Eiichi Saito, Tomohiro Mitome, Yuichiro Funabashi, Mitsuru Ishizuka, Kenta Nakagome, Tsuyoshi Maeda, Rai Tateishi, Maya Minowa, Ryosuke Inada, Yuki Kajiro, Masaya Koike and Mizuki Yoneyama (Cast subject to change)
Programme (TBC): Zoku, Jang-Gwara, Chonlima, Michi, Shamisen, Monochrome, Miyake, Sankan Shion, Yamauta, O-daiko, Yatai-bayashi

 


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