Kodo brings the beat back to home turf


Kodo, Japan’s most famous taiko (drumming) troupe, will cap the year with a series of special concerts, showcasing the members’ progress after an extensive worldwide tour.

The 28-year-old, award-winning troupe will kick off its annual December Concerts on Kodo’s home of Sado Island, then travel to Niigata, Okayama, Hiroshima, Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo before concluding the 13-show run in Yokohama on Dec. 22.

The performances by Kodo (the name refers to both the “heartbeat” as felt in a mother’s womb and the “children of the drum”) will be an opportunity for the audience to experience the growth and the artistic experiences of the members during the past year, of which they spent eight months touring the globe, collaborating with a number of artists and working on special side projects.

This year, Kodo traveled to Los Angeles, London, Athens and Istanbul, while members collaborated with U.K.-based choreographer Akram Khan and Dutch band Blof, among others.

The annual December tour gives Kodo members a chance to remind themselves of their roots, providing a fresh source of inspiration.

“Coming back to the [Kodo stage] and donning the Kodo costume, I don’t feel like I have ‘returned’ to Kodo,” troupe member Masayuki Sakamoto says after spending time working on other projects. “It feels like I am taking another step forward; it all feels fresh and new.”

For the December shows, the 16-member Kodo, including both veterans and new talent, will deliver such old favorites as “O-Daiko” and “Yatai-Bayashi,” as well as traditional dance pieces like Nishimonai.

Kodo are scheduled to perform at the following venues: Sado Island (Dec. 2); Niigata (Dec. 5-6); Okayama (Dec. 8); Hiroshima (Dec. 10); Osaka (Dec. 12-13); Nagoya (Dec. 14); Tokyo (Dec. 17-20); Yokohama (Dec. 22). Ticket prices vary depending on the venue and seating, usually ranging from ¥3,000 to ¥6,000. Preschoolers and those younger are not admitted; nursery services will be available but limited. For more information, call (0259) 86-3630 or visit the group’s Web site at www.kodo.or.jp/12/home_en.html