Thursday 19 May 2016

Music Festivals: Issue #1

Festivals in Japan: Summer Festivals: Music Festivals: Issue #1: Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic and Greenroom

Festivals are synonymous with summer in Japan, often involving traditional dancing or spectacular fireworks and other wondrous festivities!

In the last ten plus years, Japan has been also hosting and creating amazing summer music festivals to rival the best of ‘em.
So what’s going on there?
Something for everyone, in every scene.
And why would you travel for it?

Well, for all the million of reasons for travelling to Japan in general! (And that keep us going back time and time again)...

PLUS all the popular favourite things international visitors mention about live music shows and festivals in Japan…

  •        Festival goers tend to be outwardly friendly (so you will make new bonus Japanese friends easily)
  •        Shows are super-organised and well run (without being too regimented)
  •        People tend to respect your personal space in a crowd (even when they really getting into the music, they probably won’t elbow you in the face)
  •        Concert goers seem to show politeness and restraint with cameras and phones  (so you won’t be stuck behind someone and forced to watch your favourite band through their smartphone screen)
  •        Festivals are often child and family friendly and have clean campgrounds and facilities.
  •        There are seriously great bands lining up to play in Japan (so read on…)

Whether you want to rock out, rave on or relax on a yoga mat, there is a music festival for you.  These festivals are annual events and it is never too early to plan, but do note that some of the more elusive or yet unscheduled festivals are subject to confirmation each year.


The Festival:  Held late July, this is the big one you’ve probably heard of.  Fuji Rock coigned its name from the first event which was held in 1997 at the base of Mount Fuji. Since 1999, however, the festival has been held at the Naeba Ski Resort in the beautiful Yuzawa area of Niigata.  It is often referred to as ‘The Cleanest Music Festival in the World’, and that extends to the campgrounds and public toilet facilities!

The Area:   Yuzawa is a little more than an hour by bullet train from Tokyo, yet it feels like another world entirely.  Some 200km away from the metropolis, Yuzawa is nestled in the fresh air of the verdent Japan Alps.  In the winter, Yuzawa transforms into a ski and snowboard paradise and the home to many intrernational visitors.  All year round, Yuzawa enjoys natural hot springs for bathing.

Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary:  

Niigata & Sado Island - Famous as the source of Japan's purest water, Niigata's rice and sake (rice wine) are widely regarded as the best in the country. Here you will visit a local sake brewery and samurai house bringing you back to Japan's feudal days. Spend a night in Niigata enjoying a more rural city night life at a local izakaya. Just a few hours by ferry will take you to Sado Island - Japan's sixth largest island. Spend three nights here meeting the locals, exploring the sights, and taking part in local workshops like Taiko drumming.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route - From Sado, you will return to a different port on the mainland and make your way to Tateyama where you will spend your first night along the Kurobe Alpine Route in a mountain lodge. Located in Japan's Northern Alps, between Toyama and Nagano (Omachi Town), this route is traversed by various means of transportation including mountain buses, cable cars, and ropeways. Along this adventure you will see not only Japan's most incredible views of wildlife and landscape, but also the world's highest and most impressive dam, the Kurobe Dam, which stands at 186 meters tall.

↘ 2016 will be the 20th anniversary and has the lineup to celebrate!

[Update: WILCO has been added to the 2016 lineup!!!]

How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour: 
Go to and mention ‘Fuji Rock’ in the comments section.

♪Self-guided, guided, or semi-guided options available!


The Festival:  Held in late August, this is the big one you may not have heard of!  It is held over two days simultaneously in Osaka (south of Kyoto) and in Chiba (north of Tokyo), with the headline bands switching from one site on one day to the opposite site on the other day!

The Area:  The Osaka site is on a small island in the bay, conveniently close to the city centre as well as Universal Studios Japan Theme Park!  The Tokyo (Chiba) site is also a seaside location conveniently close to the metropolis as well as to the Disney Resort!

Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary: 

Osaka: Japan's second city and an extremely vibrant and lively place to stay. There may not be any real 'tourist' sights but it is just the life on the streets that makes Osaka such a fascinating city to visit. Osaka people work hard and play hard and it really shows with the vast number of restaurants, bars and all round entertainment available. The city aquarium is world class and you cannot stay in Osaka without taking a ride on one of the city's several giant big wheels, perhaps the most dramatic of which is perched on top of the Hep 5 department store in the Umeda district of the city - just don't look down if you are afraid of heights! Osaka Castle is well worth a visit despite being a reconstruction as the original was burnt down during the firebombing at the end of World War Two and you will find a variety of very interesting museums scattered throughout the city. After dark Osaka really comes alive, and a walk through the bright lights of the Namba district is a great way to take in the atmosphere, with some great people-watching opportunities. With literally thousands of restaurants, bars and entertainment spots to choose from, Osaka is perfect for a big night out, some hearty local food and the chance to let your hair down. Osaka really is one of Japan's truly all action cities and a stay here is a chance to experience what life in modern day urban Japan is really like.

Tokyo: One quarter of all Japanese live in Tokyo or the near vicinity and with a population of over 12 million inhabitants, Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world. With its huge skyscrapers, underpasses, overpasses and crowds of pedestrians, Tokyo may not seem the most attractive city on the surface, but the city has a vibrant charm all of its own. The street level detail is what makes Tokyo such an incredibly interesting place to explore and at every turn you will be met with an array of sights, sounds and smells to enliven the senses. The city has many major sights to visit such as Senso-ji Temple in the old downtown area of Asakusa or the fashion hub of Shibuya from where all new trends are said to emanate. All in all a stay in Tokyo is to experience one of the world's most vibrant and interesting cities; a capital hurtling headlong into the future whilst maintaining its links with the traditions of ancient Japan.

How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour: 

Go to and mention ‘Summer Sonic‘ in the comments section.

♪Self-guided, guided, or semi-guided options available!

Greenroom Festival

The Festival:  Held in late May, this festival combines music, art, film, yoga, surfing, culture and the environment.  Also: a kids disco!

The Area:  In a historical building and by the sea, this festival is in the cool location of Yokohama’s bayside.  A short and convenient train journey from Tokyo and other main hubs.

Our Recommendations for your Unique Japan Tours Itinerary: 

Yokohama - Famous for its seafaring and trade links, this city is also home to a bustling Chinatown.  Enjoy a day or two in Yokohama before riding the rails between…  

Tokyo - Ginza, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Odaiba, Rainbow Bridge, Meiji Jingu, Asakusa Kannnon Temple, Tsukiji Fish Market, Museums, contemporary art and infrastructure.  

Mt Fuji / Hakone - Spectacular views of Mt Fuji, Owakudani, Sounzan, Hakone Yumoto Town, Hot Springs at your ryokan.

Kyoto - World heritage temples & shrines, geisha walking tour, tea ceremony, zen gardens, quaint streets, tea houses and traditional atmosphere.

Miyajima Island & Hiroshima - World Heritage site Itsukushima Shrine (floating shrine), Hiroshima A-Bomb dome & Peace Park.

How to Book Your Festival-Based Tour: 
Go to and mention ‘Greenroom Festival’ in the comments section.

♪Self-guided, guided, or semi-guided options available!

Issue #2 coming soon…

[Photo Credits: Official Event Websites & JNTO]

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