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Ondekoza, Back in Tainan Eleven Years On

 

2016 brings a significant anniversary for the biennial Nan Ying International Folklore Festival, which was first held 20 years ago in 1996. To celebrate, we have invited our old friends Ondekoza to headline the festival performances. Ondekoza, considered the most representative of Japan’s taiko traditional drum troupes, were last in Taiwan in 2005, when they ran around the island on their “marathon tour” as well performing in Tainan and other cities.

 

Ondekoza, which translates directly as “the demon drum group”, will perform at the Tainan Culture Center on October 10, Taiwan’s “Double Ten” National Day that marks the birth of the Republic of China. Their virile and energetic performance, demonstrating the power and beauty of taiko, is sure to delight the audience and set pulses racing with a stirring combination of sound and spectacle.

 

Ondekoza will present their latest composition, “Thunderstorm,” themed on “skin-feel sounds” and inspired by images from Japan’s prehistoric Jomon period. Besides pounding on drums of various sizes, the performers will also play on bamboo and board surfaces to imitate the sounds of wind and thunder. The performance, which runs for around two hours, does not consist entirely of thunderous drumming. In recent years, the troupe have incorporated other elements as relaxing interludes in the entertainment, such as playing with traditional Japanese kendama cup-and-ball toys.

 

A highlight of the show is the beating of the biggest drum, a giant taiko that measures 1.3 meters in diameter and weighs 350 kilograms. In this part of the performance, which always gets a rousing reception from the audience, the drummers perform almost naked, in nothing but loincloths, to display the strength and beauty of their muscles while striking the taiko.

 

Ondekoza was founded in 1969 in Sado Island, Japan. The group’s communal lifestyle centers around running and drumming, under the basic ethos that “running and drumming are one, and a reflection of the drama and energy of life.” In 1975, they attracted global attention when they jumped on stage and performed a full set of vigorous drumming straight after completing the Boston Marathon. As they have gained increasing recognition and popularity around the world, they have been invited to take part in all kinds of major events worldwide, including ceremonies of the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, and even a Christian Dior fashion show in Paris. With their renown spreading far and wide, they have firmly established their place as Japan’s most representative taiko troupe.  

 

Make sure not to miss this opportunity of Ondekoza coming back to perform for us here in Tainan on October 10. Come to enjoy this unique event, and thrill to the pulsing drumbeat of life.