March 14, 2013
Kodo drummers' island home
Kodo, the Japanese drumming (and more) ensemble, has traveled the world for 30-odd years (including a stop in Columbus March 14 - read our print piece and get details here), but has maintained its home on an island in the Sea of Japan since the early 1970s.
Read the history of Sado island and Kodo's decision to locate there at this link from the Kobo website. We talked to Kodo company manager Jun Akimoto about life on Sado.
"The idea is to be together not just for rehearsal but also in daily life," he said. "It's a great place to live for both practice and preparation."
Akimoto wanted to be very clear about a couple things. One, that Kodo's base on Sado is collective, but "it's not communism." Nor is it a commune per se, or a camp, or retreat (although it has been used as such for some visiting artists), or a place where Kodo performers are "kept." In addition to touring, Kodo members travel to and from Sado, and welcome visitors as well, including for an annual festival featuring guest artists of very kind from around the world.
That said, the island was historically a haven for exiles, outspoken thinkers and artists deemed politically dangerous to Japan's rulers. Eventually Sado became a bastion of Japanese culture and art, and retains, beyond Kodo's base, many practices of the old way in Japan.
Akimoto pointed out that Kodo's new artistic director, the cosmopolitan Tamasaburo Bando, who is from Tokyo and is a revered kabuki icon in his homeland, "is enjoying the very different atmosphere" of Sado.