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.
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.
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.
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.