Earth Celebration 2024

AUG. 16






Ogi, Sado Island, Niigata



Key Visual


Shiroyama Park Sessions

Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble

Kodo Taiko Performing Arts Ensemble

Exploring the limitless possibilities of the traditional Japanese drum, the taiko, Kodo is forging new directions for a vibrant living art-form. Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo has given over 7,000 performances on all five continents, spending about a third of the year overseas, a third touring in Japan and a third rehearsing and preparing new material on Sado Island. Kodo strives to both preserve and re-interpret traditional Japanese performing arts. Beyond this, members on tours and research trips all over the globe have brought back to Sado a kaleidoscope of world music and experiences which now exerts a strong influence on the group’s performances and compositions. Collaborations with other artists and composers extend right across the musical spectrum and Kodo’s lack of preconceptions about its music continues to produce startling new fusion and forms.

Ryutaro Kaneko

Ryutaro Kaneko

Featured Event(s)

Taiko & Chappa (Cymbals) Performer From 1987, Ryutaro Kaneko spent twenty years performing as a core member of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo. He was a key figure on stage and behind the scenes: he composed and arranged pieces for the Kodo stage and recordings, and held the positions of music director (for Tamasaburo Bando’s “Amaterasu,” etc.) and artistic director in the group. In 1988, Kaneko developed an original method of playing the chappa (small Japanese cymbals), bringing new innovation to taiko ensemble performances. He left the Kodo ensemble in 2007 to become a solo artist. Kaneko has performed in 43 countries on six continents to date. His onstage jam sessions with music, dance and art around the world soar beyond any genre. With these three styles, he expresses his high musicality and flexible sensibilities. Kaneko’s taiko workshops focus on his original method Yurumi-daho—relaxation drumming form. He also teaches performance technique, ensemble playing, and even workshops that do not use taiko. His students range from taiko novices to professionals and teachers in an array of art genres including acting and dance. Kaneko also serves as an instructor at Kodo Apprentice Centre.

Yasukazu Kano

Shinobue (Japanese bamboo flute) Performer Yasukazu Kano became a member of Kodo in 1987. After a decade of touring, he left the ensemble in 1997 to become a solo artist. Remaining on Sado Island. he went on to further explore and broaden the possibilities of playing the shinobue (Japanese bamboo flute), developing his own method of playing. Kano made his major debut using this new method in Yamaha in 2005. In addition to many CDs, he has released instructional DVDs, sheet music books, photo essays, and more. He has performed more than 2,000 times in 30 countries around the world. As a music producer, he wrote a theme song for NHK’s “Nihon no Wagei” and music for television, movies, and theater. Kano leads shinobue workshops nationwide and around the world, as well as sharing his expertise via SHINOBUE KANO METHOD YouTube tutorials. He has also created many videos of live performances to help revive festival culture and spread shinobue music globally. Some of his other accomplishments include performing with Salena Jones, Kosetsu Minami (Japanese singer), Ryuichi Kawamura (Japanese singer-songwriter and record producer), and Keizo Nakanishi (Japanese singer-songwriter and composer). Kano also serves as an instructor at Kodo Apprentice Centre.

Masayuki Sakamoto

Taiko Performer Blending his taiko and rock background, Masayuki Sakamoto’s future-generation artistry continues to attract attention from around the world. For over a decade, he was a core, driving-force member of Kodo, performing solos and center-stage parts since his debut. On stage, Sakamoto captivates audiences with his honed physicality, sharp sensibilities, and remarkable technique. Behind the scenes, he was instrumental in the proposal and development phases of two innovative new taiko: the tunable okedo-daiko Kanade, and the electronic taiko "Taiko-1." Both drums went on to win Japan’s Good Design Award. Sakamoto began his solo career in 2018. In 2022, he launched his Online Taiko Salon—a taiko membership that fosters learning and community. In 2023, he decided to expand his offerings to connect with taiko players around the world by starting his English-content Online Taiko Collective in 2023. As a Japanese solo artist, he thrives on venturing into unexplored areas of music and expression.

Masaki Hayashi

(Pianist, Composer) Masaki Hayashi performs mainly his own compositions as a soloist. He also leads his own projects, notably Ma wo Kanaderu and Masaki Hayashi Group, and gives acoustic performances with a range of musicians, including Lisa Ono and Sadao Watanabe. Hayashi composed the music for the 2021 film "Under the Open Sky" (Director/scriptwriter: Miwa Nishikawa / Starring: Koji Yakusho), which won the Mainichi Film Award for Best Music. His latest release is his January 2023 album Blur the border by Masaki Hayashi Group.

Gendai Sangaku

Photos: Yoshihiro Abe Sangaku is a sort of acrobatic, circus-like performing art that arrived in Japan from the Asian continent, probably originating in India, and disappeared around the ninth century. Ōta Yutaka has tried to revive it in contemporary form with his ensemble Gendai Sangaku (“Contemporary Sangaku”). Its first important event was a performance offering at the Great Buddha Hall in Tōdaiji, Nara, in 2019. The ensemble represents the origins and the features of original Sangaku in multiple ways: it employs various musical instruments from different cultures and ages (the Japanese flute, the shō mouthorgan, the Japanese large drum, Turkish string instruments, even the saxophone), it displays acrobatic juggling, and it makes effective use of storytelling. Ōta will present a history of this genre and discuss his attempts to revive it today and his motivations. Members: Yutaka Ota Gagaku Performer (Flute, Saxophone, Orin / Artistic Director) Yutaka Ota is a graduate from Tokyo University of the Arts who specializes in performing Gagaku—ancient Japanese court music—throughout Japan and around the world. He plays bamboo flutes, the biwa (Japanese short-necked wooden lute), and the accompaniment for samai (Dance of the Left). He also creates music for stage productions using a range of instruments and equipment, including the saxophone, guitar, orin (brass bells), and DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). His diverse creative activities include using orin bells to compose the departure melody played when bullet trains leave Shin-Takaoka Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line. Takeaki Bunn Gagaku Performer (Sho, Violin) Takeaki Bunno was born into a family of Gagaku (Japanese court music) musicians in Kyoto, the Bunno Family, who have been playing the sho (mouth organ)—a traditional Japanese court music instrument—for a thousand years. At 15 years old, Takeaki began playing Gagaku, studying the sho, biwa (lute), umai (Dance of the Right), singing, along with piano and violin. Today, in addition to performing traditional classical Japanese music, he is eagerly exploring the myriad possibilities of the sho through his creative endeavors. Kiyoshi Ohira Turkish Music Performer (Saz) Kiyoshi Ohira has studied an array of local stringed instruments and folk songs in China, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Greece. He performs traditional folk songs from the Silk Road and folk songs from various regions, both as a soloist and with ensembles. Ohira also composes music for theatrical readings and plays. He is a music instructor at Yunus Emre Institute Tokyo. Masayuki Sakamoto Taiko Performer Masayuki Sakamoto became a member of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo in 2006. Throughout his years with Kodo, he appeared center stage and drove the group forward with his strong skills and determination. In 2017, he left the ensemble and began his solo career, giving performances in Europe, North and South America, and Japan to date. Sakamoto is determined to be a taiko player with solid technique and originality, actively collaborating with a variety of musicians and art forms to constantly hone his craft. Tomohiro Morita Juggling Performer Tomohiro Morita began juggling in high school, after which he entered Sawairi International Circus School. While studying there, he won the first prize in the individual division of a national competition, Japan Juggling Festival (JJF). Since then, Morita has also studied dance, mime, and other forms of performance to create his own unique style of juggling. He performs at a wide variety of local and international festivals and events, as well as appearing in stage productions and the media. Tsunehiro Hayashi Narrator Tsunehiro Hayashi hails from Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. He is a narrator for TV and radio programs, commercials, and more, mainly in the Hokuriku area. Hayashi studied under phonetics teacher Yasuhiro Isogai (director of Vocal Arts Service Center), becoming a qualified instructor of the Isogai Method® of Voice and Words. He continues to study diligently, striving to master the art of high-quality storytelling. Hayashi is the director of Kensei-sha, where he also serves as a Voice and Language Instructor.

Ben Aylon

Percussionist, Musician Defined as a border-breaking musician and percussionist, Ben Aylon is known for his contemporary Senegalese drumming, explosive burning rhythms and signature hybrid drumming style. In his live show 'One Man Tribe' Ben creates a massive tribe-of-drummers sound with a ten-piece Senegalese drum set and presents his compositions on the Xalam, a Senegalese string instrument. Ben hails from Herzliya in Israel. In 2008, he traveled to West Africa to study percussion performance and during his time there, he began to research the sabar, a Senegalese traditional percussion instrument. Over the next few years, Ben studied traditional Senegalese drumming and composition in depth under the guidance of Aly, son of Doudou N'Diaye Rose, the leading sabar player of our time. He developed his rhythmic, compositional playing style, invented new techniques, and created multi-layered drumming experiences and sound. In 2020, his extraordinary playing was featured on a Senegalese TV program, which led to widespread popularity and national recognition as Senegal's next generation percussionist. Ben has performed and recorded with world-renowned musicians, including the legendary Youssou Ndour, Cheikh Lô, Khaira Arby, Omar Pene, Awadi and Doudou Ndiaye Rose. His international debut album "Xalam" won Songlines Best Album 2021. In the following year, Ben was nominated for Best Artist 2022 by Songlines Magazine.