Below, our Director Koyko-san shares her thoughts, observations and pictures from her recent trip to Japan:
I saw two performances by Kenji Furutate: one at Shinden Jinja in Setagaya Ward of Tokyo and the other at a beer garden of Isetan department store in Shinjuku. Teppei, Yuko and my friend from high school who plays taiko went to see him. And Ryota Kataoka, our friend joined us all the from Shizuoka. Later in the month I got together with Ryota and his wife Yuko who was in town for her recording. Teppei participated in three workshops: one at Asano taiko by a KODO member, one by Kan Hayashi and the other by Kenji Furutate.
Then, Sado Island.
Mayur, my friend from high school and I arrived in Sado Island by bus and ferry from Tokyo on August 21st. Mayur and I were able to stay only two days but we had so much fun, enjoying a beautiful nature of Sado and people. We spent a day watching various performers at a school gym and in between we took a tour of Ogi Peninsula where the major programs were held for Earth Celebration and got on a wooden boat. We truly appreciated a beauty of the island and people.
We attended the concerts in the evening. The first evening was by KODO alone and we were able to see the traditional part of KODO performance on the contrary to recent new program which we saw in Brooklyn in March. I personally like more traditional side of KODO. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. We watched them perform in the rain but it was a spectacular performance. This is something we can only experience outdoor. I wonder if they do the same thing in Tanglewood because the set up is very similar to that. The second day was also cloudy but it held up. The second day's concert was produced by Lenard Eto, a former KODO player and his composition, "Zoku" is a well known piece and played by many groups. The concert with his solo, performing group from Bali and KODO was electric and we all had a blast.
The place was more than watching the concerts and exploring the town of Ogi. We ran into people we know from US and elsewhere. We saw Sarah Gilbert, a former member of Taiko Tides of Stony Brook and a trainee of Soh Daiko who was just finishing up her JET Program fellowship with her parents, Ken and Kim. We also saw Kazuhiro Tsumura, the oldest of Tsumura family of Miyake. I was also able to see one of the KODO members, Yosuke Kusa in the gym when he was part of the performance. It was a surprise meeting for me. I also ran into a couple of former students from Cornell's Yamatai who spotted me in the gym. The biggest surprise was to see Koji Miyagi kun who is a current trainee of KODO. I first met him when he as a high school student in New Jersey where I went to help his high school taiko group several years ago. He then went to International Christian University in Tokyo where he continued taiko with the college taiko team. Now he is a trainee of KODO. I am so proud of him and excited. I hope he will make it to the final stage.
I had such a wonderful trip to Japan this past summer and I appreciate my network of taiko family in Japan as well as in US. I can't thank enough to all these taiko players and teachers for their continuous inspiration to us all.