Nothing says summer like music festivals. We have the lowdown on the biggest and best festivals taking place throughout Japan.
Westside Outdoor Festival, Okayama
For those looking for a proper outdoorsy event, this may be your best bet. The festival takes place on an island in the Seto Inland Sea and makes the most of the abundant nature in the area. It’s family-friendly and boasts several activities ranging from slackline walking, SUP boarding, and even kid-friendly bungee jumping(!). Chill DJs and folk singers make up the main music roster, and there are even woodworking workshops for those feeling crafty.
Where: Kakuijima, Okayama
More info: Westside Outdoor Festival
Greenroom Festival, Kanagawa
Located conveniently in the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse area, this art, film, music, and surf culture festival is a local favorite. There are plenty of art stalls and shows, as well as movie showings. Or, you can just head to the chillout area and do some yoga — the choice is yours.
Where: Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse, Kanagawa
More info: Greenroom Festival
Tokyo Metropolitan Rock Festival
For those who don’t want to leave the comfort of the city, Metrock is the best way to make the most of festival fever without having to travel for miles and miles.
Where: Wakasu Seaside Park, Koto-ku
More info: Met Rock
Dead Pop Festival, Kanagawa
Dead Pop Festival is the brainchild of Shonan punk band SiM (Silence iz Mine), who started the project as an indoor stage show featuring bands from a variety of heavy genres. Since 2015, the festival has been upgraded to a proper outdoor festival affair, now spanning two days every summer in the outskirts of Kawasaki.
Where: Higashi Ogishima East Park Special Event Space, Kawasaki, Kanagawa
More info: Dead Pop Festival
Ocean Peoples, Tokyo
Although it’s nowhere near the ocean, it’s for a good cause. Ocean Peoples gathers together those who want to save our beaches and our oceans for a celebration of these beautiful natural resources without trashing them in the process. Entrance is free, making it accessible for everyone. There are over 100 stalls featuring local artists and entrepreneurs, as well as food from all over the world.
Where: Yoyogi Park, Tokyo
More info: Ocean Peoples
Kesen Rock Fes, Iwate
Kesen Rock Festival was canceled in 2011 because of the devastation caused to the area by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The festival came back with a vengeance the following year, in part because local entrepreneurs and musicians wanted the world to see a different side of the region, as well as give the local economy a boost to help it recover.
Where: Taneyamagahara Park, Iwate
More info: Kesen Rock Fes
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This music and amusement festival in the heart of Hokkaido is in its 10th year, featuring some of Japan’s best rock bands. Non-musical attractions include the Alternative Garden, a collaboration project with sports, art, and performance elements that are fun for the whole family.
Where: Iwamizawa Park, Hokkaido
More info: Join Alive
Muro Festival is a Tokyo-based music event headed by Shibuya live house O-Crest. This year’s show will move it from last year’s Odaiba beachside to Makuhari. Over 50 artists will appear on stage over the two days.
Where: Makuhari Kaihin Park G-Block Tokusetsu Kaijo, Chiba
More info: Muro Fes
Fuji Rock Festival
Japan’s biggest festival of the year kicks off as it always does, deep in the forests of Niigata. Over 200 Japanese and international artists make this music haven their home over three days every July.
Where: Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata
More info: Fuji Rock Festival
Oga Nahamage Rock Festival, Akita
Head north to the home of one of Japan’s most feared demon-like deities, the Namahage. Inspired by these fierce creatures, and perhaps to appease them, the Oga Namahage Rock Festival features some of the heaviest bands Japan has to offer. Akita’s famous babahera (two-flavored ice cream served by old ladies) will also be on site to keep festgoers cool.
Where: Funagawa Port, Akita
More info: Oga Namahage Rock Festival
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Rock in Japan Fes, Ibaraki
For the biggest J-pop and J-rock festival this summer, look no further than Rock in Japan Fes, which spans across five days over two weeks. Artists for this year’s lineup are yet to be updated, but it’s guaranteed to be good.
Where: Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki
More info: Rock in Japan Fes
Rising Sun Rock Festival, Hokkaido
Located in Hokkaido, Rising Sun Rock Festival offers festgoers a reprieve from the oppressive heat that hits the rest of the country during the height of summer. The event prides itself on having only Japanese bands and artists in its line-up, which may or may not be a dig at larger festivals that mainly host international performers.
Where: Ezo, Hokkaido
More info: Rising Sun Rock Festival
Eat the Rock, Shiga
While Eat the Rock sounds like it was made to match Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s catchphrase “Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?”, its true nature is quite different. This rock music festival is one-of-a-kind as there is no entry fee whatsoever. It’s completely free!
Not only that, but the event offers ¥1,500 return shuttle bus tickets to get visitors to and from the venue with ease. While some might consider this a desperate attempt to get visitors to come out so far, looking at the line-up at past incarnations, there’s no need as some of Japan’s best ska acts will be there.
Where: Ryuo Sogo Undo Park, Shiga
More info: Eat the Rock
This citybound three-day musical menagerie in two cities has a prelude that’s almost as big as the main event — so big that it’s now encompassed in the full festival sphere.
Where: Makuhari Messe, Chiba & Maishima Sonick Park, Osaka
More info: Summer Sonic
Monster Bash, Kagawa
Already in its 20th year, Monster Bash has in past years offered an impressive line-up of Japanese rock and pop staples, such as Dragon Ash, Buzz the Bears, UVERworld, and The Bonez. It’s the must-see Shikoku music festival and a great alternative for those who want to skip the city — or have no interest in Summer Sonic.
Where: Sanuki Mannou Park, Kagawa
More info: Monster Bash
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Music Circus, Osaka
Music Circus prides itself on being based in Osaka. While everyone else looks to Tokyo, MC is a pioneer in creating a festival that distances itself from the capital. MC also wants to create more than just a festival; they want to create an experience. Festgoers can enjoy dancing, jetpack flying, Instagram-snapping, and whatever else they want at this two-day beachside dance revolution.
Where: Sennan Tarui Southern Beach, Osaka
More info: Music Circus
Sky Jamboree, Nagasaki
Sky Jamboree came about after a chance meeting between producer Katsuro Arimoto and Kemuri frontman and vocalist Fumio Ito. Their belief is that music brings everyone together — not a revolutionary concept per se, but they built on it: when everyone enjoys music together in one place, they create peace in the world. That’s where the festival’s annual theme, “one pray in Nagasaki” comes in. By rocking out alongside friends and enemies, it’s a modern (and very rock’n’roll) way of creating world peace, even if it’s just one corner of Japan for one day of the year.
Where: Inasayama Park, Nagasaki
More info: Sky Jamboree
Rush Ball, Osaka
Celebrating its 21st anniversary, this Osaka-based fes doesn’t have an available lineup yet, but it’s sure to be jampacked with Japanese rock legends!
Where: Izumi Ohtsu Phoenix, Osaka
More info: Rush Ball
New Acoustic Camp, Gunma
Part of the wave of alternative and family-friendly festivals, New Acoustic Camp is in its 10th year of creating the ultimate outdoor experience. Enjoy the unadulterated sound of acoustic music while relaxing in the shade by day, and chat over open fires and under starry skies at night. There is also an option for a hotel stay with an onsen nearby for those who don’t want to rough it.
Where: Minakami Kogen Resort 200, Gunma
More info: New Acoustic Camp
Shima Fes Setouchi, Kagawa
Shima Fes has the ambitious goal of being an oceanside music event that will last 100 years. The fes started in 2011, so we’ll have to wait another 90 odd years to see if this is an impossible dream or an impressive feat. Regardless, its location is enviable — the fes takes place on Shodo island in the middle of the Setouchi Inland Sea and is accessible by boat from seven different ports.
Where: Shodoshima Furusatomura, Kagawa
More info: Shima Fes Setouchi
Ultra Japan, Tokyo
For lovers of EDM, Ultra Japan is a must-attend. The festival’s 2022 lineup include Afrojack, Nicky Romero and Zedd.
Where: Tokyo Odaiba Ultra Park, Tokyo
More info: Ultra Japan
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Itami GreenJam, Hyogo
This creative enterprise has made it its mission since 2014 to provide a festival that equally values art, fashion, design, and music. Artsy folks are invited to design the official event supporter T-shirt. In line with the festival’s creative and open ideas, the whole two-day event is free.
Where: Koyaike Park, Hyogo
More info: Itami GreenJam
The Great Satsumanian Hestival, Kagoshima
Yes, that’s festival with an “h.” The “he” represents the word for volcanic ash in Kagoshima’s local dialect, which is fitting, since much of the city is covered in it thanks to the nearby Sakurajima. In fact, the fes will take place on the Sakurajima peninsula, at the foot of the active volcano.
Where: Sakurajima Yokoyama-cho, Kagoshima
More info: The Great Satsumanian Hestival
Asagiri Jam, Shizuoka
Fuji Rock Festival’s little sister is way more chill, tends to have better weather, and has a front-row view of the “right side” of the beautiful Mount Fuji.
Where: Fujimi City, Shizuoka
More info: Asagiri Jam