Kyushu is considered a music haven, known as the birthplace of highly influential musicians from Misia to Yosui Inoue. The region is home to a wide range of climes, from the beautiful beaches of Kagoshima to the concrete jungle of Fukuoka city; unsurprisingly, the types of music coming out of the island vary greatly as well. From the experimental playfulness of Hitomi Moriwaki, to rap from Banny Bugs and his CCS Records crew, to the Oita duo Baobab which specializes in medieval instruments, the scene is alive and popping.

Here are some of the most notable underground artists from the area, who are making waves in their respective scenes.

kyushu underground music banny bugs

Illustration by Victoria Bennett

Banny Bugs

The head honcho of Fukuoka-based creative collective CCS Records delivers his own, solo music under the moniker Banny Bugs. The producer is known for bridging the gap between Kyushu and Kansai, collaborating with Tokyo-based artists like Aaamyyy and Tsubame from the psychedelic pop group Tempalay and most recently the Kanagawa-based 18Scott on his newest single, “Kibou.”

With CCS Records, he acts predominantly as a producer, making beats for songs like “My Friend Vespa” and the underground hit “Murda.” He shoots most of his music videos in locations around Kyushu. “Kibou,” for instance, saw the team shooting in Fukuoka and Tokyo.

For more information, find Banny Bugs on Instagram.

kyushu underground music hitomi moriwaki

Illustration by Victoria Bennett

Hitomi Moriwaki

Hitomi Moriwaki is an experimental musician based in Fukuoka. Her 2022 album Subtropic Cosmos was a remarkably accomplished semi-major label debut, released on Kikagaku Moyo’s Guruguru Brain to critical acclaim. TW named it one of the best albums of 2022. Moriwaki’s all-seeing musical eye roves from genre to genre, creating spacey ruminations upon a wide variety of abstract concepts, ranging from unstoppable bleeding to rainforests. Whether she’s layering her kitschy voice into a wall of oddball sounds and muffled words, or singing about the pleasures of onsen, her productions are united by a paradoxical mature naivety: taking the listener’s hands and flying into the cosmos, gazing down at the world.

Outside of her musical activities, Moriwaki is a multidisciplinary artist across diverse mediums such as puppetry and ceramics, and she can be seen at zine fairs across Kyushu. She also frequently has live sets in both her home prefecture and in Tokyo.

For more information, find Hitomi Moriwaki on Instagram.

kyushu underground music Hanali

Illustration by Victoria Bennett


Hailing from Kitakyushu, Hanali is one of several pioneers of the hilariously named “gorge” genre, named such because the music is meant to make one feel like they are in a rocky gorge. Hanali’s music has to be heard to be believed. He’s appeared at clubs across Kyushu and throughout Japan, bringing his whirlpool-esque live shows to enthusiastic audiences, who get surprisingly
into the whole experience. Imagine a rock concert, full of rocks. You’re pretty close.
Hanali is loved by a range of listeners and is known as a musician’s musician, hotly tipped by members of the Japanese music community.

He does all this from his home in Kyushu, where his social media posts consist of him rock climbing and fishing around the area. A player on the global scene, he has released his work on labels including Third Type Tapes, based in Belgium.

For more information, find Hanali on Instagram.

kyushu underground music Swimming Sheep

Illustration by Victoria Bennett

Swimming Sheep

The Fukuoka-based artist — formerly known as American Green — makes happy electronic music under this new alias. As noted on his website, he has moved from chilled music to more “danceable” tunes. His most recent EP, Science, contained a range of Balearic house compositions, like the opening track “Ocean Oxygen,” which brings to mind the likes of Project Pablo and Jack J. The second track on the EP, “Light Bulb,” is a slightly glitchy number, but danceable nonetheless. Swimming Sheep works hard to deliver downtempo dance to the masses, both releasing and collaborating on several tracks a year.

For more information, visit Swimming Sheep’s website

kyushu underground music Baobab

Illustration by Victoria Bennett


Baobab is a brother-sister folk project based in Oita, headed by Maika and Mirai Matsumoto on fiddle and guitar, respectively.
The pair have been creating gentle folk songs since the early 2000s from their Kitakyushu base, where they also host an annual music festival, Song Bird Concert (currently on a short hiatus) and run a studio reproducing the medieval-inspired instruments that they use in their songs.

Taking a large amount of inspiration from the nature that surrounds them on the island, Baobab’s songs are odes to the subtle wonders of the natural world. A fiddle may represent birdsong, while piano notes hint at trickling streams and bubbling brooks. The two understand the power of silence, and their stripped-back music feels raw and genuine as it calms and soothes.

For more information, visit Baobab’s website. 

This article appeared in Kyushu Weekender 2024. To read the whole issue, click here

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