Kodo Village: A Refuge for Artisanal Craftsmen

Island | © Kanuman/Shutterstock

Kodo Village was created by its founders with the dream of establishing a refuge for artisanal craftsmen in the wild forested surroundings of the Ogi Peninsula on Sado Island. The large S-shaped island in the Sea of Japan is Japan’s sixth largest island and is home to a beautiful natural landscape as well as a treasure house of Japanese crafts and performing arts.

The History of Sado Island

The island has historically been used as a place of exile for both political prisoners and an artistic refuge due to its remoteness and seclusion from the rest of Japan. Important historic and cultural figures such as Emperor Juntoku (1197-1242), Buddhist monk, Nichiren (1222-1283) and noh master, Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443) were exiled here. The island’s past along with its own unique culture and religion have developed over time, making it the perfect place to hone one’s skill as an artisan. The island has been referred to as a “floating treasure chest” of traditional Japanese culture. In 1988, Kodo Village was officially opened on 25 acres of land in the southern part of the island.

Gold Ore Mountain

An island of arts

Artistic culture has flourished on the island since the 8th Century when poet, Hozumi no Asomi Oyu was exiled there for reportedly criticizing the emperor. Kodo Village was founded as a haven for Japan’s traditional arts as a place where they could be preserved and kept alive, as well as developed and nurtured without interference from the outside world. The island is home to around a third of Japan’s 80-odd noh theaters (classical Japanese musical drama).

Sado Island from the sea

The goal of the island is not only to be a home for Japanese artists, but a place where artists from around the world can meet and understand each other. The beautiful natural environment of the island and Kodo Village is devoted to creativity and exchange.

Arial view of cityscape in Sado Island

Sado Earth celebration

The biggest event on Sado Island is the annual Earth celebration in August, which is hosted by the world famous taiko group, Kodo Drummers. The group, world leaders in the performing art of Japanese drumming lives on the island, touring eight months a year, and hosting the festival in August. The three-day event features musical performers from all around the world, workshops, flea markets and art exhibitions. The highlight is the collaboration between the Kodo Drummers and the international artists they invite. The 2017 Earth Celebration is scheduled to be held from August 18 to 20. More details about the event will be announced in May.

The group Kodo performing a taiko piece

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