Kokichi Kusano

Kokichi began his performing career at the age of 5 as a member of the Toronto Suwa Daiko a cultural association located in Toronto. Subsequently, Kokichi was introduced again to Japanese music during high school after the death of his grandfather and introduction to the Buddhist Temple where he was re-united with Taiko in 1996 as a member of the Temple’s local group Isshin Daiko. Through this chance encounter Kokichi would come to be a founding member of Canada's first professional Japanese taiko ensemble, the Nagata Shachu, in a career as a lead musician and performer that lasted for nearly two decades. Featured in concerts and festivals throughout North America he is adept at many styles of taiko drumming as well as playing a wide array of traditional Japanese flutes such as the Shinobue (transverse bamboo flute), Noh-kan, Ryuteki and the Shakuhachi (vertical bamboo flute). 

Since 2012, Kokichi has furthered his exploration of Japanese music and culture through extensive international travel, meeting and performing with respected musicians and artisans. Recently sought after as an independent artist, he has performed in concert and festivals with an incredible trio of winners of the Okaya World Odaiko Solo competition (upright great drum soloist) Kudaka Tetsuya, Shimamoto Ryo and Yanase Kazushige in 2016 and 2017 in Nagano prefecture, Japan. Kokichi has taught classes, coached local teams and lead workshops for youth and adults in Taiko and Shinobue in both Japan and Canada. 

Kokichi's early work in Canada included appearances alongside the renowned dancer/musician Kayo Yasuhara as a guest performer with Komachi in such events as the Otakuthon Anime Festival and the International Percussion Festival in Longueuil (both 2014). Kokichi also teamed up with Ottawa's popular Shamisen virtuosa Ryoko Itabashi in collaborations at the Ottawa Tea Festival and in a feature performance 'Journey through Japan' for the Embassy of Japan (January 2015). 

In 2017, Kokichi was commissioned to compose the score for the production Okuni, a full length theatrical dance production by Kayo Yasuhara. In 2018, Kokichi launched 'Project Nae', with the goal of producing a full body of original composed works reflecting his vision expressed through Japanese instrumental music. Project Nae was awarded the support of the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts in 2018-19. In 2019 with support provided by the Canada Council for the Arts, Kokichi completed residencies with Akira Katogi in folk music performance and Morita-ryu Noh-kan under Yusuke Kuribayashi.

In 2019, under with the support of Arts Council funding for the NAE Project, Kokichi founded the NAE Studio, where he composed and developed a body of original musical works. The NAE Studio operates as a place of practice and learning for traditional Japanese music arts in Toronto. 

In addition to teaching workshops and private lessons, Kokichi is actively composing new pieces, pursuing collaborative projects and is available as an artistic consultant for events and groups. Kokichi helped to found and is an acting senior advisor and instructor with the JCCC (Toronto Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre) Taiko Program: Kyowa Daiko.

 

Kokichi is the Founding Director of the Nae Studio in Toronto and Artistic Director of the Hayashi no Kai (Japanese traditional music troop).