Japan: Charity Concert – Friends Of Kodo And Wadaiko

In cooperation with Rolex of Japan, AAR Japan held a charity concert entitled ‘Friends of Kodo And Wadaiko: Sounds Of The Festival’ on June 19th, 2012. Wadaiko refers to traditional Japanese drumming, while Kodo is the name of a renowned wadaiko troupe from Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture. The concert was held for the benefit of those affected by March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake in Japan’s Tohoku region.
Although the event coincided with the landfall of a typhoon over Tokyo, many still braved the inclement weather to come to Suntory Hall in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. Mr. Tamasaburo BANDO, artistic director of Kodo, delivered a message at the opening of the concert, telling the audience, “I hope Kodo can give you strength, and somehow inspire you for tomorrow.”

The JAA High School drumming club goes through pre-curtain nerves.
Masterful Performance
As the concert was dedicated to people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, Kodo prepared a number of pieces related to festivals in the Tohoku region. In the first part of the concert, Kodo performed ‘Hitori Kago’ (lit. a person’s divine protection), a song based on the Iwasaki Onikenbai (‘Ogre Sword Dance’), an art form traditional to Iwate Prefecture. Kodo’s combination of wadaiko, dance, flutes and other elements created an atmosphere that shook the walls of Suntory Hall, a facility usually reserved for classical music. Both first-timers and seasoned Kodo fans were drawn in and treated to a satisfying performance.

Kodo performs ‘Furyuu’, a piece based on the Jyangara Nenbutsu Odori, a folk dance of Fukushima Prefecture. (Photo by Takashi OKAMOTO)

Guest Appearances from Wadaiko Groups
The Japan Aviation Academy High School (JAA High School) has accepted students from regions affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake into its Yamanashi-based Kai City campus free of charge. Tatsuya KAMONZEKI, a 2nd year high school student and drumming club member, is originally from Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture. Before the performance, Tatsuya greeted the audience, saying, “I will give you my best performance. I hope that those hurt by the recent disaster will be able to gain something positive from their struggles.What followed was an exhilarating performance of ‘Kai Genji Koryuu Genshou Daiko’ by the school’s 18-strong drumming club, semi-finalists in the previous year’s national tournament, drawing rapturous applause from the audience.

AAR Japan vice president Taki KATO, the host of the event, with Tatsuya KAMONZEKI of JAA High School. (Photo by Takashi OKAMOTO)

We also welcomed another guest group—Onagawa Shiosai Daiko Todorokikai, who normally perform in Onagawa Town, Miyagi Prefecture. Onagawa Town was devastated by the March 11, 2011 tsunami, resulting in the death or disappearance of 10% of the population. The group’s  instruments were damaged in the event as well, and many of its members still live in temporary housing. Their passion for drumming lived on unabated, however, and in May of 2011 they determined to resume practice.
Although they could sometimes practice only by hitting plastic drink bottles, the group was still able to share in their joy of drumming. With 15 members ranging from elementary school students to adults, at Suntory Hall the group performed an original song entitled ‘Yakudo’ (‘rhythm’ or ‘lively movement’), which is also performed in Onagawa’s elementary and junior high schools. It was met with a seemingly endless round of heartfelt applause.

Onagawa drumming club’s Seiko SATO (center): “Use your feelings of gratitude and ambition to shake the heavens!”

The Allies of Wadaiko Meet in Suntory Hall
Kodo reappeared in the second part of the concert to perform ‘yatai bayashi’, a traditional piece, as well as popular pieces making use of oodaiko (lit. large drums). In response to calls for an encore, the two guest groups returned to the stage, and the curtain finally closed to rapturous applause. The audience was treated to the diverse world of wadaiko, as well as an opportunity to reinforce feelings of togetherness and support for the damaged Tohoku region.

All the performers appeared onstage together at the event’s closing. (Photo by Takashi OKAMOTO)

In the lobby of the hall, sales of trinkets and sweets made in Tohoku-region facilities for persons with disabilities proved to be popular. Including donations, proceeds from the night reached 4,713,789 (as of August 14th). These proceeds will be greatly appreciated in efforts focused on assisting the revival of the Tohoku region. We offer our thanks to the audience, performers, staff, and everyone who lent their support to make this event possible. We also offer our gratitude for the irreplaceable assistance of Rolex of Japan. Please accept our heartfelt appreciation.

The JAA High School drumming club offers a modern and dynamic performance. (Photo by Takashi OKAMOTO)

Onagawa’s drumming club plays instruments that survived the tsunami. (Photo by Takashi OKAMOTO)

6 Members of Kodo use differently-sized drums to perform ‘Kaden’.  (Photo by Takashi OKAMOTO)

Made in Tohoku welfare housing, snacks and trinkets featuring AAR Japan’s ‘Sunny-chan’ mascot prove to be popular.

The next charity concert will feature the All Mozart Program, to be held in Suntory Hall.

Tokyo Office: Yoshitaka SUGISAWA
Working in the Public Relations Department of AAR Japan’s Tokyo Office since May 2010. After graduating university, worked in the private sector before joining AAR Japan.