If you’re searching for a unique activity, check out what world tours are heading to your city. And Kodo, the Japanese drumming troupe, recently announced its schedule to perform in the USA and Canada.

Courtesy of Kodo (photo credit Takashi Okamoto)

Courtesy of Kodo (photo credit Takashi Okamoto)

Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery, the second work created by artistic director Tamasaburo Bando, revered kabuki icon and a National Living Treasure of Japan, will be on tour across the U.S. and Canada from January through March 2015.

The Chicago Tribune declared, “Superlatives don’t really exist to convey the primal power and bravura beauty of Kodo,” while The New York Times raves, “Kodo reminds its audience that, above all, its music is a matter of flesh and blood, wood and stretched skin. Kodo can raise the roof, but the group can also show extraordinary finesse.”

Taking Kodo to yet another dimension, this new work transcends the real world to enter one where sacred beasts appear. This theatrical experience, which combines high energy percussion and dance, will take the audience on a journey into darkness, to a place that conjures the centuries-old spirit of the Japanese people and their indigenous nature. Through the virtuosity of Kodo, the Mystery will unfold in this spectacular new production.

“This time, I created a piece with the idea that theatre-goers would experience the mood of mystery that one experiences at a temple or a shrine, or when you go into the forest – places that are removed from daily life. A feeling that emerges from deep darkness,” says artistic director Tamasaburo Bando. “While it’s a drum concert, playing as only drums can play, we’ve added plenty of visuals as well,” he adds.

Kodo has seen a departure from its traditional costume styles and musical direction since Tamasaburo Bando took the helm as full-time artistic director in 2012. Mystery represents a future evolution of the group’s new expressions and promises to capture the imagination of both seasoned and first-time viewers alike to uncharted artistic territory.

Since the group’s debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo’s ongoing “One Earth Tour” has brought the experience of the taiko to 46 countries around the world for close to 4,000 total performances. Spending about a third of the year overseas, a third touring in Japan and a third resting and preparing new material on Sado Island, Kodo strives to both preserve and reinterpret traditional Japanese performing arts as they develop new styles that transcends all genres and borders. Since 1988, the group has had the pleasure of inviting artists they have met in their travels back to their home of Sado Island to engage in unprecedented musical collaborations at the troupe’s annual international music festival.

In Japanese the word “Kodo” conveys two meanings: Firstly, “heartbeat” the primal source of all rhythm. The sound of the great taiko is said to resemble a mother’s heartbeat as felt in the womb, and it is no myth that babies are often lulled asleep by its thunderous vibrations. Secondly, read in a different way, the word can mean “children of the drum,” a reflection of Kodo’s desire to play the drums simply, with the heart of a child.

Kodo One Earth Tour: Mystery 2015 North American tour dates include the following:

  • Jan. 27: Bellingham, Washington, USA
  • Jan. 29: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, Canada
  • Jan.31 – Feb. 1: Berkley, CA
  • Feb. 3: Los Angeles, CA
  • Feb. 6: San Diego, CA
  • Feb. 8: Tucson, CA
  • Feb. 10: Mesa, AZ
  • Feb. 12: Las Vegas, NV
  • Feb. 17: Tyler, TX
  • Feb. 19: Austin, TX
  • Feb. 20: San Antonio, TX
  • Feb. 22: Manhattan, KS
  • Feb. 24: Lawrence, KS
  • Feb. 26: Germantown, TN
  • Feb. 28: Richmond, KY
  • Mar. 3: Rochester, NY
  • Mar. 5: Quebec City, Canada
  • Mar. 7: Montreal, Canada
  • Mar.9: Ottawa, Canada
  • Mar. 12: Toronto, Canada
  • Mar. 14: Urbana, IL
  • Mar. 16: Chicago, IL
  • Mar. 19 – 21: New York, NY
  • Mar. 24: Newport News, VA
  • Mar. 26: Savannah, GA
  • Mar. 28: Atlanta, GA
  • Mar. 29: Athens, GA