Earth Celebration is certainly in touch with the times: Last year the taiko drumming troupe Kodo marked the 100th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil with the Afro-Brazilian culture group Olodum; this year they are celebrating the 400th anniversary of trade relations between Japan and the Netherlands by inviting Holland’s most popular rock outfit — Bløf.
It’s not the first time that Bløf and Kodo have shared a stage. The Dutch rock band (think Matchbox Twenty/Coldplay) and Japanese drummers met in September 2005, when Bløf was touring the world to record songs with a host of international artists from different countries. The collaboration with Kodo that was recorded on Sado Island led to a No. 1 hit on the Dutch charts, “Aanzoek Zonder Ringen” (“Proposal without Rings”), and three sold-out shows that the groups played together in Amsterdam.
Sado Island is a summer destination in and of itself, full of endless beaches and fields of seasonal flowers. With Earth Celebration being held this year from Sunday Aug. 16 to Tuesday Aug. 18, this is a great chance to take the extra weekend day to visit the island before the drumming starts. As usual, during the festival a number of smaller shows will be performed throughout the small town of Ogi and down by the harbor, all of which offer more immediate experiences than the main Shiroyama concerts. Kodo has been trying out smaller incarnations of its drumming troupe over the last several years, and one of the most exciting and quirky is the all female group Cocoon. Look for the ladies to get the Ogi Gymnasium rumbling Aug. 17 at 10 a.m.
Earth Celebration is from Aug. 16-18 in Ogi on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture. Fringe events start 2 p.m on Sunday Aug. 16 and the main Shiroyama concerts are every night at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are ¥13,000 for a three-day pass, ¥4,700-¥5,500 per day. For transport, lodgings and festival info visit www.kodo.or.jp/ec/