Guide to Japan’s Summer Music Festivals

Photo: cheer Lee on Flickr

Guide to Japan’s Summer Music Festivals

Wendy Ng

Summer is a busy season in Japan. From the opening of beaches to summer festivals to fireworks shows, summer is a time for sunburnt and fun! Other than the countless traditional summer festivals, there are many music festivals happening throughout Japan in summer.

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One of the biggest music festivals in Japan’s summer calendar is the Summer Sonic Festival. The annual two-day music festival is held concurrently in two major cities, Chiba and Osaka, over the summer weekend. This urban music festival is conveniently located in Chiba’s QVC Marine Field and Makuhari Messe and Osaka’s Maishima Sports Island. Most of the artistes performed in Summer Sonic Tokyo for one day and in Summer Sonic Osaka the following day.

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Since the Summer Sonic Festival started in 2000, national and international musicians showcase a wide variety of music genres every year. The festival boasts an impressive lineup of musicians from major to indie bands. Popular Japanese bands like B’z and Mr Children have attracted huge crowds in the recent years. Many iconic rock stars like Green Day, Guns N’ Roses, Queen, Linkin Park, Metallic, Muse and My Chemical Romance have graced Summer Sonic’s stage. Pop divas like Beyonce, Rihanna and Avril Lavigne and Asian bands like South Korea’s Big Bang and Taiwan’s Mayday have appealed to a diverse group of music lovers. One day before the Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo, Sonic Mania, an all-night dance and music event, is held in the same venue. It caters to a younger crowd with live DJ acts and dance music to warm the stage for the upcoming festival.

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I attended the Summer Sonic Osaka in 2014 and had one of the best musical experiences of my life. Even though heavy rain poured relentlessly throughout the day, the fantastic lineup of musicians chased away the gloom and invigorated the rain-soaked concert-goers with their energetic performances. The highlight of the festival was the phenomenal performances by the legendary Queen and Adam Lambert. The chemistry between Queen (Roger Taylor and Brian May) and Adam Lambert was electrifying. It was live rock music at its finest.

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Summer Sonic 2015 will be held on 15-16 August. Featuring high profile musicians like The Chemical Brothers, Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, Marilyn Manson, The Script and Radwimps. Summer Sonic Festival is a great summer event for people who love live music and enjoy watching music performances in an outing setting.

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Before attending a summer music festival, it is important to be fully prepared for the heat. It is highly advised to apply sunblock adequately and wear suitable headwear like caps or hats. In most music festivals in Japan, the trusty towel serves multiple purposes from protecting the face and neck from the sun, drying perspiration and acting as a prop used by concert-goers who swing it to the beat of the music. Do remember to check the music festival’s schedule and plan accordingly as it is common for many artistes to be performing simultaneously on different stages.

Summer is approaching soon! Gather your like-minded friends who appreciate music, attend some music festivals in Japan, and embrace the fun, music and life!

Popular Summer Music Festivals in Japan


Miyako Rock Festival
Location: Miyako, Okinawa
Date: Mid June (1-day festival, to be resumed in 2016)
http://www.mirf.jp/

Fuji Rock Festival
Location: Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata
Date: End of July (3-day festival)
http://fujirock-eng.com/

Rock in Japan Festival
Location: Hitachinaka, Ibaraki
Date: Early August (3-day festival)
http://rijfes.jp/

Summer Sonic and Sonic Mania Festival
Location: Tokyo and Osaka
Date: Mid August (2-day festival)
http://www.summersonic.com/

Rising Sun Rock Festival in Ezo
Location: Ishikari, Hokkaido
Date: Mid August (2-day festival)
http://rsr.wess.co.jp/2015/index.html

Earth Celebration
Location: Sado Island, Niigata
Date: End August (3-day festival)
http://www.kodo.or.jp/ec/en/

Sukiyaki Meets the World
Location: Nanto, Toyama
Date: End August (3-day festival)
http://sukiyakifes.jp/

Tokyo Jazz Festival
Location: Tokyo
Date: Early September (3-day festival)
http://www.tokyo-jazz.com/