The Japanese word Kodo means “heartbeat,” the primal source of all rhythm. Indeed, the great taiko—a traditional Japanese drum with limitless rhythmic possibilities—is thought to be reminiscent of a mother’s heartbeat as felt from the womb, and babies are often lulled to sleep by its thunderous vibrations. If read in a different context however, Kodo can also mean “children of the drum.” Kodo’s mission is to explore these possibilities, and in the process forge new directions for a vibrant, living art form.
Since the group’s debut at Berliner Festspiele in 1981, Kodo has given more than 6,000 performances in 50 countries on five continents—including 3,900 performances under the “One Earth” banner, a theme that embodies Kodo’s desire to transcend language and cultural boundaries, reminding audiences of the common bonds we all share as human beings.
Additionally, Kodo works with thousands of school children across Japan through its ongoing “School Workshop Performance” tours. The ensemble also headlines major international festivals, contributes to motion picture soundtracks, and collaborates with a wide variety of global performing arts leaders.
In 2006, Kodo realized its first on-stage collaboration with Kabuki luminary Tamasaburo Bando in “Amaterasu,” a musical dance play based on a Japanese myth. This performance served as a catalyst for Kodo toward new forms of percussive expression, and paving the way to encore performances on even more influential stages, including Tokyo’s iconic Kabukiza Theater.
The Kodo Cultural Foundation was established in 1997 with the goal of sharing the group’s experiences and giving back to the community via social education and local development programs. Kodo has also formed collaborative ties with Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward and the Bunkyo Academy Foundation, as well as with Kashiwazaki Shimin Kaikan Alforet, a cultural hall in Niigata Prefecture.
In 2001, members of Kodo became the first Japanese artists to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway.