Taiko ensemble, Kodo, know how to take the show on the road: according to their newsletter, the troupe has performed over 2,600 concerts in 42 countries since their 1981 debut (do the math). A wellspring of fresh ideas and aspiring young talent help explain why they grow stronger, year after year, but the real reason is simple: they are the best there is.

Dedicated to their craft, Kodo grew out of the desire to start a traditional Japanese art and culture school. The result was Kodo Village, where many members and their families live, and the Kodo Cultural Foundation, a two-year program teaching everything from drumming to tea ceremony to farming techniques. Both are on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, close to where they hold Earth Celebration, a world music festival the group organizes every summer.

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