Japan Music Festivals – The Ultimate Guide for Summer

Japan's summer music festival scene is on the rise. With our rundown of some of the best, getting yourself to one couldn't be easier this summer!

The Japanese music festival scene has been steadily growing over the past few years, now beginning to rival the dominance of both Europe and America. Not only does Japan offer music festivals showcasing a wide variety of genres and styles, the gorgeous Japanese landscape as a backdrop is hard to beat. Where in the world can match the serenity and majesty of locations such as Mount Fuji or Lake Biwa?

International and domestic acts alike are drawn to Japan’s summer music festivals, so why don’t you join them? With so many options, making a decision can be overwhelming, so here are our top picks of the best music festivals in Japan –  allow us to be your Japan music festival guide:

1) Fuji Rock 

Photo Credit: Global Panorama via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Global Panorama via Flickr cc

Fuji Rock, Japan’s answer to Glastonbury, has dominated the music festival scene in the country since the 1990s, indeed, it’s now one of the largest music festivals in Asia. Tickets are consistently sold out thanks to its record of drawing huge global acts, making it the most talked about summer music festival in Japan. With the likes of Sigur Rós, Beck and Red Hot Chili Peppers topping the bill, it’s not an event to be missed. Bring your wellies and tents to party the summer weekend away!

Where: Naeba Ski Resort, Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture

When: July 22nd – 24th

Price:  19,000 to 43,000 yen

Website:  fujirock-eng.com

2) Summer Sonic 

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Photo Credit: LuxTonnerre via Flickr cc

Japan’s premier rock festival, this year’s event boasts Radiohead as the headline act alongside the alternative Amercian rock band Weezer and the infamous British DJ and producer Mark Ronson.

Summer Sonic is held simultaneously in Chiba and Osaka, with acts switching between the sites over the course of the weekend. The two-day event also offers several alternative attractions, such as SonicArt and shopping areas. Both festivals are easily accessible from Tokyo, so why not give this summer music festival a try? 

Where: Chiba Marine Stadium (Chiba City, Chiba) & Makuhari Messe (Osaka, Osaka Prefecture)

When: July 22nd – 24th

Price: 16,500 to 30,500 yen

Website: summersonic.com/2016

3) Tokyo Jazz Festival

Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius via Flickr

Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius via Flickr cc

A must-go festival for jazz lovers, this three-day event has drawn in both international and domestic acts, ranging from Takuma Awaya to Kenny Barron and has cemented Tokyo’s excellent reputation on the international jazz scene since its launch in 2002. Held at the infamous Tokyo International Forum, thousands of fans gather each year to share their passion and enjoy some world-class jazz!

Where: Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo

When: September 2nd-4th.

Price: 9,800 to 18,600 yen

Website:  tokyo-jazz.com

4) Rock in Japan

Photo Credit: Risa Ikeda via Flick cc

Photo Credit: Risa Ikeda via Flick cc

Sponsored by music magazine Rockin’On Japan, this festival mainly hosts domestic rock acts in a showcase of what Japan’s music scene has to offer. This could be the perfect opportunity to introduce yourself to Japanese rock, and as the most well-attended rock festival in the country, you won’t be alone. You will be spoilt for choice this year, with acts including The Oral Cigarettes, Cream, Cocco and many more.

Where: Hitachi Seaside Park, in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki

When: August 6th-14th

Price: 13,00 to 42,000 yen

Website: rijfes.jp

5) Rising Sun Rock Festival

Photo Credit: Kentaro Ohno via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Kentaro Ohno via Flickr cc

Another exclusively rock orientated festival which has proved itself as the go-to festival for J-rock aficionados. Selling itself as a ‘True Rock Festival’, it is a heavy contender against Fuji Rock Festival and Rock in Japan for Japan’s premier festival spot. The festival grounds are also littered with great small stalls selling everything from quirky jewellery to room decorations which is a bonus. Guaranteed to provide you with an all round Rock’n’Roll experience this summer!

Where: Ishikari, Hokkaido

When: August 12th-13th

Price: 9,300 to 18,500 yen

Website: rsr.wess.co.jp/2016

6) Muro Festival 

photo credit: iggyshoot via flickr cc

photo credit: iggyshoot via flickr cc

Taking place in Tokyo Bay, the Muro Festival promises the opportunity to relax with a drink and admire the coastal scenery, all whilst bopping your head to your favorite acts. 

Who is playing this year you might ask? Well, the bill includes bands such as Age Factory, Ajisai and A Flood Of Circle showcasing their exemplary musical talent. With the lineup for this year’s event still to be completed, there is still the promise of many more excellent bands to come. 

Where: Tokyo Bay Kyakusen Terminal Tokusetsu Stage, Tokyo

When: July 31st

Price: 5,000 to 5,5000 yen

Website: murofes.com/ticket_2016

7) Join Alive Festival

Photo Credit:  Kentaro Ohno via Flicr cc

This festival, replete with an amusement park and a varied lineup of acts, is an excellent family-friendly option. The festival’s mission is to spread joy and happiness, and with a festival this good, the organisers can be confident of achieving this with flying colours. Pack your bags, get the children ready and head over to this festival for a summer weekend of family fun.

Where: Iwamizuwa Park, Hokkaido

When: July 16th-17th

Price: 8,500 to 17,000 yen

Website: joinalive.jp/2016

8) Freedom Aozora 2016 Awaji Island

Photo Credit: Ryo Katsuma

Photo Credit: Ryo Katsuma via Flickr cc

Tucked away on Awaji Island in Hyogo Prefecture, this music festival caters to a wide range of musical tastes. From reggae to hip hop, rock to classical music, there’s something for everybody. Away from the music, the location offers the chance to explore the wonders of Awaji, famous for its beaches and verdant scenery. Give this one-day festival a try for the music and adventure both. 

Where: Akashi Kaikyo National Government Park, Awaji Island

When: July 30th

Price: 3,800 to 7,800 yen

Website: freedom-aozora.com/2016/ticket/awaji

9) Sukiyaki Meets the World

Photo Credit: Gohusuke Takama

Photo Credit: Gohusuke Takama via Flickr cc

This festival is very much an international experience, drawing acts from all continents it is guaranteed to widen your musical horizons. Located in the center of Tokyo, the festival draws in acts from Africa, South America and Asia, and equally multi-cultural crowds. It also plays host to the World Food Market, an extravaganza of food from across the globe. This festival is a cultural experience unto itself.

Where: Shibuya, Tokyo

When: August 30th

Price: 5,500 to 8,500 yen

Website: sukiyakifes.jp

10) Earth celebration

Photo Credit: James Gunsalus via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: James Gunsalus via Flickr cc

Characterising itself as a festival connecting the world through music and art, Earth Festival offers a vibrant atmosphere in a beautiful location. This years theme is ‘Children of Taiko’, encouraging revellers to unleash their inner child. Adults and children alike are spoilt for choice, with many activities, music workshops and food stalls to choose from.

Where: Sado Island, Niigata 

When: August 26th- 28th

Price: 5,000 yen

Website: www.kodo.or.jp/ec/en

11) Dead Pop Festival 

Photo credit: May S Young via Flickr cc

Photo credit: May S Young via Flickr cc

This festival is moshpit heavy, gearing itself toward metal, punk rock and ska. Perhaps not for the fainthearted. This year’s line-up is set to include the likes of The Bawdies, HEY-Smith, Crystal Lake and Crossfaith. Having already proven to be a firm favorite amongst the metal-heads of Japan, it’s not to be missed this summer!

Where: Kanasawa, Kawasaki

When: July 9th – July 10th 

Price: 8,500 to 17,000 yen

Website: www.deadpopfest.com

 12) Tokai Summit 

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Photo Credit: Mary S.Young via Flickr cc

Tokai Summit is the nation’s first hip-hop outdoor festival; established in 2007 and increasing in popularity ever since. This one-day festival caters to lovers of hip-hop music and, interestingly, fans of amusement parks, with NagaSpaLand on hand to boost your weekend’s fun levels. Japan is perhaps not an obvious choice for hip-hop fans, but this festival is making a great case to the contrary. 

Where: Nagashima Spa Land, Kuwana, Mie Prefecture

When: July 11th 

Price: 7,000 to 14,500 yen 

Website: tokai-summit.net

13) Natsu Biraki Music Festival

Photo Credit: LuxTonnerre via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: LuxTonnerre via Flickr cc

This festival, now in its 10th year, has consistently proven itself as a family favorite. Children under 12 are granted free admission and many activities (catered to both kids and adults) to keep them entertained are on offer, all soundtracked by fantastic music. A great school vacation getaway. 

Where: Ishioka-shi Tsukubane Autocamping Area ,Ibaraki 

When: 16th-18th July

Price: 3,900-6,900 yen

Website: www.natsu-biraki.com

14) Oga Namahage Rock Festival Vol. 6

Photo Credit: Kentaro Ohno via Flickr

Photo Credit: Kentaro Ohno via Flickr cc

This coastal music festival is famous for providing a drum show from the brilliant Mahage Drum Association. There are many accommodation options and the area is known for its welcoming locals, who naturally are very much involved with the festival itself. A showcase of the best food and music that Oga city has to offer. 

Where: Oga City, Akita Prefecture

When: July 30th – 31st 

Price: 3,900-6,900 yen

Website: www.onrf.jp/

15) Tsukuba Rock Festival (Go Fresh Beat)

Photo Credit: Kevin Utting via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Kevin Utting via Flickr cc

Most festivals listed here cater to major acts, this festival, however, is for the little leagues. Showcasing many up and coming artists, it’s a great opportunity to discover some great new bands as well as the perfect excuse to visit Ibaraki. Perhaps you’ll discover the next big thing, who knows?

Where: Ishioka-shi Tsukubane Autocamping Area (Ibaraki)

When: July 18th-19th 

Price: 3,900-6,900 yen

Website: goosefreshbeat.web.fc2.com

16) Sekigahara Live Wars

Photo Credit: Banalities via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Banalities via Flickr cc

This festival gives a nod to the historic battle of Sekigahara in 1600, which led to the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Today, the battlefield is reserved for bands and artists, who fight it out in male, female and idol group categories. It’s guaranteed to provide some explosive musical entertainment and feel like no festival you’ve been to before!

Where: Sekigahara Battlefield, Fuwa-gun, Gifu

When: July 18th-20th

Price: 6,700 yen 

Website: sekigahara.livewars.jp

17) Monster Bash

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Photo Credit: Banalities via Flickr cc

Held in Nara Prefecture, just a short hop from Tokyo, this event certainly deserves to be called a ‘bash’. The ominously named Dragon Stage is host to the biggest acts and wildest crowds, but quaintly, a tea hall is not far away should you need a breather. Hear all kinds of sounds here, from electronic music to rock. 

Where: Sanuki Manor Park, Yoshino, Manno-cho Nakatado-gun, Kagawa

When: August 20th-21st

Price: 3,780-15,120 yen

Website: monsterbash.jp

18) Inazuma Rock Festival

Photo Credit by Banalities via Flicr cc

Photo Credit: Banalities via Flicr cc

Only interested in major acts? This is the festival for you. Showcasing the most popular mainstream acts in Japan, it’s guaranteed to be one of the biggest summer music festivals and all held in the beautiful surrounds of Lake Bhiwa. Scheduled for mid-September, this festival could be a brilliant way to end your summer of fun.

Where: Lake Biwa, Shiga prefecture

When: September 17th-18th 

Price: 9,200-18,400 yen

Website: inazumarock.com/2016/ 

Khadiju Ali

Khadiju Ali

Avid traveller, lover of spicy food and anything related to David Tennant



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