Every year since 1988, Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture has been the host of Earth Celebration, an international music festival held to celebrate global culture. The event is organized by Kodo, a professional taiko drumming troupe based on Sado Island.
Since their debut at the Berlin Festival in 1981, Kodo has single handedly popularized taiko drumming, both in Japan and abroad. They regularly tour Japan, Europe and the United States and since their debut have given over 4,000 performances. Although the main focus of the performance is taiko drumming, other traditional Japanese musical instruments such as fue and shamisen are included during the traditional dance and vocal performances.
Earth Celebration is a three-day event held during mid to late August in Ogi Town located on the southern coast of Sado Island. Thousands of people come from all over Japan and overseas to attend the event whose central attraction are its three main concerts, one held each night of the festival at Shiroyama Park. The first night’s concert features Kodo, while the second night’s concert features various guest performers. The third night is a collaboration featuring both Kodo and the guest performers.
In addition to the main concerts at night, there are a number of events that take place during the day. Special performances, called fringe concerts, are held at various venues around town, with many taking place at the Kisaki Shrine. The festival program also features numerous workshops, such as taiko drum and Japanese flute making, taiko drumming and traditional Sado dance. These workshops require advance registration and most include a participation fee of ¥3,000 – 5,000.
Other festival activities include boat rides around Ogi Harbor in taraibune (tub-shaped boats characteristic to Sado Island) and the Ogi Okesa dance, which follows the concert on the second night. This traditional Sado dance is performed by Ogi townspeople and everyone is invited to participate. Harbor Market takes place every day from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM at Ogi Harbor. Dozens of small shops and food stands create a small tent city, where you can shop and enjoy food from around the world.
General admission costs ¥5,200 per day; student discount (students aged 15-24) is ¥3,500 per day (¥3,800 at the door); children (14 & under) are admitted free.