Earth Celebration on Sado Island

Legendary festival goes online for first time

By Alena Eckelmann    - 3 min read
Venue: Sado Island When: Late Aug 2021

Earth Celebration is a superb three-day taiko and music festival on Sado Island where Kodo (legendary taiko drums troupe) holds open-air concerts, holds taiko workshops and invites other musicians to collaborate on stage.

Sado Island, located off the coast of Niigata, is renowned for its thriving arts and culture scene from kabuki to local artisanship and taiko drums. Taiko Japanese drums have been part of Japan’s summer festivals for centuries and their deep and cacophonous sound echoes the heartbeats of the local people.

Take the matsuri (festival) atmosphere but change amateur drummers for professionals, put them on stage, and what you get is Kodo, one of Japan’s most respected professional taiko ensembles.

In Japanese, kodo means "heartbeat", which is considered to be the primal source of rhythm. Read in a different way, the word also means "children of the drum". This reflects Kodo’s passion to play the drums with a kind of spiritual naivety.

In previous years Kodo performers usually travel around the globe to play large concert halls showcasing its wild drumming but they make sure to be back at its Sado base in August when audiences usually come to them. People from all over Japan, and from around the world, venture to Ogi on Sado Island to share their passion for taiko and for music at Earth Celebration.

Thousands of people usually come together on Sado Island, every year, to discuss music, create music and enjoy themselves. As this is an outdoors festival in a small seaside town, there is a close exchange with nature and with the local community. Earth Celebration is deeply rooted on Sado Island and in this particular area around Ogi, so much so that the festival has become part of the identity of Ogi and of Sado.

Earth Celebration 2020, held from August 21 - 23, will be available via live stream with the residents of the island taking Sado to the world stage. For the 33rd installment of Earth Celebration organizers have established an exclusively online event for a live, global audience with the tagline, “Connect with the World on Sado Island.” In place of its regular ticketed concerts, they will stream the main programme for free with viewers being urged to subscribe to the official EC YouTube channel.

The programme consists of Kodo performances and talk shows, a tour of Sado Island led by members of Kodo and a celebration of Earth on the final day through the majestic drumming of Kodo. Online workshops, an online market and merchandise will also be available.

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Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Born East of the Wall and South of Berlin, I am celebrating my 15th year anniversary in Japan in May 2020, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the beautiful Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home.I have been a JapanTravel Partner since the conception of the platform in 2011! In Tokyo I worked in market research at AIP Corporation and in business education at JMEC. For the last 10 years I have been a guide for foreign visitors at Venture Japan, on top of being a Freelance Writer and a Business Researcher.  Apart from work, I trained at the Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo and at the Oedo Sukeroku Taiko Dojo for several years each, and I ran the 1st Tokyo Marathon and enjoyed cycling around Tokyo. During the last 10 years I am working with local authorities to improve their hospitality to foreign visitors and I have participated in many monitors as a media representative.  My current interest is in Japanese nature and spirituality. I love spending time in the forest and mountains, and I love visiting temples and shrines.   I am a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails  and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and licensed guide for Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy).  As a guide for walking tours, I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage trail.  Being grounded during this COVID-19 crisis, I enjoy gardening, baking bread in my new Japanese bread-maker and going for walks around 'my' village.  Take care, keep well, stay safe! 

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Kim a year ago
Would love to visit this event someday!
Sleiman Azizi a year ago
Sado Island, the isle of exile, really does have a latent energy about it.
Rashaad Jorden 5 years ago
That's an event I definitely should have attended when I was living in Japan since it may not have been difficult for me to travel from Yamagata Prefecture. It certainly seems like an amazing event.
Rufus Starbuck 7 years ago
Had an amazing weekend at the Earth Festival a few years ago. Camping on the beach and enjoying the concerts at night. Highly recommended. It's the weekend of 23, 24, 25 August 2013. All the details on the Kodo website. Well worth the trip.