Kodo (taiko group)

Kodo (taiko group)

nihongo|Kodō|鼓童 is an elite taiko drumming troupe. Based on Sado Island, Japan, they have been a major force in the post-World War II revitalization of taiko drumming, both in Japan and abroad. They regularly tour Japan, Europe, and the United States.

Although the main focus of the performance is taiko drumming, other traditional Japanese musical instruments such as fue and shamisen make an appearance on stage as do traditional dance and vocal performance. Kodo's performance include pieces based on the traditional rhythms of regional Japan, pieces composed for Kodo by contemporary songwriters, and pieces written by Kodo members themselves. The numbers that Kodo perform can change from concert to concert. Kodo's performance normally lasts for about one hour and forty minutes.

In Japanese the word "Kodo" conveys two meanings: "heartbeat" the primal source of all rhythm and, read in a different way, the word can mean "children of the drum," a reflection of Kodo's desire to play their drums simply, with the heart of a child.

Kodo strives to both preserve and re-interpret traditional Japanese performing arts. From worldwide tours and research trips, Kodo brings back to Sado world music and experiences which now exert a strong influence on the group's performances and compositions. They also collaborate with other artists and composers.

Since their debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo have given over 2800 performances on five continents, spending about a third of the year overseas, a third touring in Japan and a third resting and preparing new material on Sado Island.


Kodo was formed in 1981 by former members of the taiko group Ondekoza and debuted at '81 Berlin Festival. The group spent the next 7 years touring Europe, Japan, North and South Americas and the Far East.

1988: Kodo Village opened on Sado Island. The village includes a large practice hall, dormitories for members as well as administrative offices. The 1st annual "Earth Celebration" international arts festival on Sado Island the same year.

1989: First "Kodo Juku" drum workshop held.

1991: Special small group "Kodo San'nin Gurui" performs in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal. Kodo Juku drum workshops held in Northern Ireland as part of UK "Japan Festival". 1st annual "Gathering" 3-day concert series at Orchard Hall, Shibuya, Tokyo.

1994: "Kodo" receives the MIDEM Music Video (Long Form) Award at the 3rd International Visual Music Festival in Cannes. Japanese Foreign Ministry award for contribution to exports through Earth Celebration and overseas tours.

Kodo Cultural Foundation established in 1997.

1999: First Koryu Gakko Koen Tour.

2002: Establishment of "Kodo Arts Sphere America" (KASA) in North America.Participation in Chinese motion picture "Hero" soundtrack (Music composed by Tan Dun).Release of CD "FIFA 2002 World Cup Official Anthem".

2003: First workshop tour presented by Kodo Arts Sphere America (KASA) in North America.Kodo Cultural Foundation sponsors "Earth Furniture", a project designed to use regional materials in a self-sustaining local industry. First book by "Kodo Books", "The Tub Boats of Sado Island, A Japanese Craftsman's Methods" published. "The Kodo One Earth Tour Special", directed by Bandō Tamasaburō V, makes a 25-show run in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Niigata and Sado.

Kodo Village

After more than a decade of living in a converted schoolhouse, Kodo finally obtained 25 acres of thickly-forested land on the Ogi peninsula in the southern part of the island, and in 1988 the opening ceremony of the village was held.

In keeping with Kodo's dedication to preserving traditional arts, the first structure, the main office building, was reassembled from the timbers of a 200 year-old farmhouse that was scheduled for demolition. It has now been extended and includes communal cooking and dining areas as well as a library devoted to world music and dance.

Since then, a reception building (also a reassembled farmhouse), a dormitory building, a studio and most recently a new rehearsal hall have been added. In addition to these main communal buildings, married members of the group have been building family homes on surrounding land.


There are currently 48 members of Kodo, including 24 performing members (17 men, 7 women) and 24 staff members. The performers range in age from 22 to 52 years old. Apprentices and part-time workers included, the total number of people who are part of the Kodo extended family rises to about seventy people.

Apprentices who hope to be players (there are also apprentices who hope to become staff members) spend two years living together communally in what was once an abandoned schoolhouse. After this period, apprentices who have been selected to become junior members spend one more year training and practicing in the hope that at the end of the year they will be chosen to become part of the Kodo organization.

In the past, the group lived communally as a whole. This is still true of the younger members who live together in the Kodo village, but senior members now live outside the village in nearby communities.

Performing members

(as of June 2005)

* Yoshikazu Fujimoto (player)
* Yoko Fujimoto (staff/player)
* Chieko Kojima (player)
* Motofumi Yamaguchi (artistic director, player)
* Eiichi Saito (player)
* Ryutaro Kaneko (player)
* Tomohiro Mitome (player)
* Takeshi Arai (player)
* Kazuki Imagai (player)
* Ayako Onizawa (player)
* Kazunari Abe (player)
* Masaru Tsuji (player)
* Mitsunaga Matsuura a.k.a. Mitsu (player)
* Tsubasa Hori (player)
* Yuichiro Funabashi a.k.a. Yu (player)
* Masami Miyazaki (player)
* Kaoru Watanabe (player)
* Ishizuka Mitsuru (player)
* Yoshie Sunahata (player)
* Yosuke Oda (player)
* Kenzo Abe (player)
* Sachiko Inoue (away from the stage temporarily to care for her child)

Junior members

* Masayoshi Kato
* Natsuki Saito
* Masayuki Sakamoto
* Shintaro Fukuda
* Akiko Mizuhara
* Shogo Yoshii


(as of February 2005)

* Yoshiaki Oi (Kodo Village director)
* Masafumi Kazama (stage manager)
* Kiyoko Oi ('Friends of Kodo', mail order sales)
* Takao Aoki (managing director)
* Shinichi Sogo (Otodaiku, workshop production)
* Atsushi Sugano (managing director of Earth Celebration, Kodo Cultural Foundation, Kodo newsletter, Hanayui and solo tour management)
* Naomi Saito ('Friends of Kodo', ticket sales)
* Yasuko Yamaguchi ('Friends of Kodo', ticket sales, Kodo Apprentice Centre)
* Takashi Akamine (foreign tour management, Otodaiku)
* Tsugumi Yamanaka (Otodaiku, workshop production)
* Takuro Susaki (sound engineer, computer technician)
* Michiko Chida (recorded materials organization, investigative research, Kodo Apprenticeship Centre)
* Toshiaki Negishi (accounting, mail order sales)
* Taro Nishita (Otodaiku, web design/production)
* Yasuhiko Ishihara (Kodo Apprentice Centre)
* Kazuko Arai (domestic tour management)
* Minako Goto (domestic tour management, Kodo newsletter, ticket sales)
* Tatsuya Dobashi (stage manager)
* Junko Susaki (publicity, Kodo newsletter)
* Jun Akimoto (foreign and domestic tour management, publicity)
* Daisuke Tanigichi (domestic tour management, publicity, Kodo newsletter)
* Miwa Kinai (school tour management)
* Gen Matsui (junior member)


* "Ubu-Suna" (1988)
* "Blessing Of The Earth" (1989)
* "Irodori" (1990, Gold Disc Award for Japanese classical music)
* "Gathering" (1991)
* "Mono-Prism" (1991)
* "Kaiki" (1992)
* "Best of Kodo" (1993)
* "Nasca Fantasy" (1994)
* "The Hunted: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" (1995)
* "Kodo Live at the Acropolis" (1995)
* "いぶき" (1996)
* "Against" (1998)
* "" (1999)
* "Ibuki Remix" (1999)
* "童 warabe" (1999)
* "tsutsumi" (1999)
* "Tataku: The Best of Kodo II (1994-1999)" (2000)
* "Mondo Head" (2001)
* "FIFA 2002 World Cup Official Anthem" (2002)
* "Hero" Soundtrack (2003)
* "Sado e - One Earth Tour Special" (2004)
* "prism rhythm" (2005)


All the different activities in which Kodo is involved are handled by three separate organizations:

Kitamaesen, Co., Ltd. manages everything related to the group's performance activities.

Otodaiku, co., Ltd. manages group copyrights and the development and sale of musical instruments used in Kodo's performance.

The group's non-profit activities are organized under the Kodo Cultural Foundation.

The group's "Earth Celebration" International Arts Festival, held every summer on Sado Island, is sponsored by Kodo and local governments. It is managed cooperatively by the city of Ogi and the Kodo Cultural Foundation.

See also


External links

* [http://www.kodo.or.jp/ Official website of Kodo]
* [http://www.kodo.or.jp/kasa/ Kodo Arts Sphere America (KASA)]

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