Summer music festivals in Japan 夏フェス
Rock in Japan Festival in 2009
A stage at Fuji Rock Festival
Tents at the Rising Sun Festival
The crowds enjoying nature at Fuji Rock Festival
The weather can get very bad at Fuji Rock Festival!
Food stalls at Japan Rock Festival.
Rock on, Nippon
We know about the Japanese traditional festivals, matsuri, but these days large outdoor music festivals are becoming increasingly popular.
Music festivals have been held in Japan since the 1970s, however they really took off in the late 1990s, with the appearance of the inevitable Fuji Rock Festival, started in 1997 and held in a vast area of countryside near Mount Fuji ever since.
Since then, dozens of festivals have sprung up and are held annually throughout the country. Rock is not the only type of music highlighted either, other genres attract thousands of fans, too, especially pop and J-Pop.
Summer music festivals are called natsufesu (short for summer festival). Many artists are often enlisted to entertain crowds all day, and keep the party going until the end of the night.
Music-lovers don't just to come to see and hear a favourite artist perform, but also to meet other people who share the same musical tastes. There is no denying that the Japanese enjoy nature, camping on-site and enjoying specialty foods from the region from the many stalls set up for the occasion. It's all very festive and fun, a celebration of the summer in Japan.
If you're planning on going to a festival, plan for any type of weather. Unless the weather is extremely bad, the show will not be canceled. Summer in Japan is very warm and humid, so rain is almost a good thing, but the temperature can drop at night.
Fuji Rock Festival
The original and best-known rock festival. Held near Mount Naeba in Niigata Prefecture since 1999, a typhoon ravaged the festival near Fuji in its first edition! For 3 days, 115,000 people visit, and usually more than 200 Japanese and foreign artists perform. The music is varied: rock, pop, jazz, electro and folk are all played on several different stages. Fuji Rock wants to be the greenest festival in the world. Its slogan is "living in harmony with nature and music." This "harmony" goes so far that you shouldn't forget your waterproof clothing - it rains every year without fail!
Dates for 2016: 22, 23 and 24 July. The headliners are Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sigur Ros, Beck, Disclosure, Squarepusher, Ken Ishii, and many more...
Price: 19,000円 for a day, 43,000円 for 3 days.
Access: the Naeba ski resort. From the station of JR Echigo Yuzawa take the shuttle bus for 1 hour, 500円.
Rising Sun Rock Festival
This festival is held in Otaru Bay, Ishikari, on the vast plains of Hokkaido, on two non-stop days until sunrise (hence the Rising Sun). The music played leans more towards rock, and most performers are Japanese artists. In 2015, 65,000 people came to listen to 104 groups perform on several stages. Various services are available including tent rental, a shuttle bus taking you to relax in nearby onsen, not to mention Hokkaido specialty food stalls!
Dates for 2016: 12th and 13th of August. With AU, Denki Groove, The Elephant Kashimashi and more.
Price: 18,500円 over 2 days. 22000円 if you are camping.
Access: Tarukawa Futo in Otaru. From JR Sapporo Station it's 40 minutes by car or 30 minutes by shuttle bus from Asabu subway station, 600 円.
Rock in Japan Festival
This is the largest music festival in Japan, in Hitachinaka Kaihin Park, Ibaraki prefecture. Japanese rock, pop, hip-hop, and J-pop groups and singers perform on six stages set up in extensive fields. In 2015, 250,000 people came to see their favorite artists. There is also the possibility to camp on-site.
Dates for 2016: 6th, 7th and 13th, 14th of August, 10:30 -19:00. With Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Capsule, Ikimonogakari and more.
Price: 13,000円 for 1 day. 24,500円 for 2 days.
Access: Hitachi Kaihin Park. From JR Katsura Mito train station, there is a shuttle bus available. Or take the shuttle bus from JR Tokyo station in 2 hours, 2240円.
Created to be a city festival with easy access for a day trip. It takes place over two days in two different cities, Tokyo and Osaka. The artists perform for two consecutive days - in Tokyo then Osaka, or vice versa. The program includes sixty rock bands and both Japanese and international electro and J-Pop artists. 182,000 people partied there in 2015. Often independent labels and artists perform there, kicking off a great career with this festival.
Dates for 2016: 20th and 21st August, 11:00-21:00. With Radiohead, Underworld, The Offspring, Fergie, Sakanaction, Digitalism, and more.
Price: 16,500円 for 1 day, 30,500円 for 2 days.
Access: Tokyo, QVC Marine Stage - By JR Kaihin Makuhari Station on the Keiyo line in 40min from Tokyo station and 15 min walk. Osaka Mishima Stage - JR Sakurajima line, 10min to Nishikujo, then take the free shuttle bus.
Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival
This festival was created by the maestro Seiji Ozawa in tribute to his teacher Hideo Saito (1902-1974), the founder of classical music in Japan.
Today, friends of Ozawa from around the world gather for this event. Various programs are offered, symphony, chamber music, opera, jazz and an educational program for children. There are many events held throughout the city of Matsumoto during the month.
2016 Dates: August 9th to September 9th.
Price: From 3,000円 to 25,000円.
Access: JR Matsumoto Station on the Chuo Line. 2.5 hours from Shinjuku. 2 hours from Nagoya.