17 March 2010

Fundoshi in Taiko Drumming

If you're like many people, the first place you ever encountered fundoshi was through the Taiko drumming group Kodo, from Sado Island off the coast of Japan. Not only is Kodo a renowned international drumming group, they are also members of an artistic commune of about 48 members who rigorously train for the primal, thunderous Odaiko (literally "big drum") solos that are highlights of their concerts. Their discipline is admirable, honing the body and mind into a rhythmic force that should really be seen -- and felt -- to be believed.

There are several very nice books of photography of Kodo, including DADAN by photographer Takashi Okamoto (published September 2009) and KODO by photographer Komaro Hoshino (1984), which focus on the sheer raw muscular power of the drummers, catching the beads of sweat, the fierce facial contortions, and bodies sharpened by the vigorous, spartan lifestyle of Sado Island.

There are also several other fantastic Taiko groups operating worldwide. Of special note is Kodo's predecessors, Ondekoza.


Joe Marchesani said...

I remember seeing a performance by Kodo when they were in the U.S. for their "One Earth" tour. And I had a video tape of them that showed their preparation for the tour as well as performance footage. It was easy to appreciate the way that their fundoshi highlighted their musculature as they performed.

Joe Marchesani said...

I watched Kodo perform in the US during their "One Earth" Tour, and owned a videotape that included footage of their preparation and communal living as well as footage from the performance. It was easy to appreciate how their fundoshi highlighted their musculature as they performed.