From their base on remote Sado Island in
the Sea of Japan, traditional Japanese taiko (drum) group Ondekoza have
crisscrossed the world as virtual cultural ambassadors for Japan. Their unique crusade has
spearheaded a revival of interest in the taiko at home, as well as stimulating a surge of
interest that has led to the founding of taiko groups abroad. On December 22, they make a
surprisingly rare appearance in Tokyo.
Formed in 1969, Ondekoza - not to be confused with their offshoot Kodo, who will also be
performing in December - were the brainchild of Tagayasu Den. In communal life on Sado
Island, Den subjected his apprentices to rigorous physical training in addition to
technical training in the art of the mighty taiko. His goal was to produce a group whose
mental toughness would be equal to the demands of the mighty drums and able to withstand
the challenges of the road.
In their 1975 US debut, Ondekoza stunned audiences when its ten members crossed the finish
line of the Boston Marathon and immediately mounted the stage for a performance on
seventeen drums of different sizes and shapes.
Since then, the company has inspired audiences worldwide with its powerful rhythms and
precisely choreographed performances. An early ' US tour saw Ondekoza members run a
total of almost 15,000km and perform 355 concerts while averaging two dollars per day for
meals in their 1071-day quest for the ultimate musical and spiritual experience.
Ondekoza play Kosei
Nenkin Kaikan on December 22. See listings