Kodo: Japan’s Legendary Taiko Drummers
I first discovered the thunderous power of Japan’s Kodo 20 years ago, when the Taiko drumming masters provided the scintillating soundtrack to the Christopher Lambert film, The Hunted. It was like nothing I’d ever heard– epic and exotic, emotionally dynamic, intricate and primal at the same time. I’ve been a devout fan ever since.
Making their debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo is based on Japan’s Sado Island. They’ve since given over 5500 performances in 46 countries worldwide under the theme of “One Earth,” using music as a universal language through which they connect their traditional Japanese culture with others. Spending about a third of the year touring overseas, Kodo’s world-renowned performances truly transcend borders, genres and time.
Kodo returns to North America this year with their latest production, Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery, which was created by its Artistic Director (and Japanese Living National Treasure), Tamasaburo Bando. A leading Kabuki actor and the most popular and celebrated onnagata (actor specializing in female roles) currently on stage, he has proven a catalyst for Kodo to break new ground in their critically acclaimed Taiko expression.
We recently had the chance to interview two members of the Kodo family, Taro Nishita and Eri Uchida, about the history of Taiko drumming, its mythological origins in Japanese folklore, being ambassadors for Japanese culture, and what life is like on remote Sado Island.