Monday 28 June 2010

Fuji Rock Festival tips 2010

by craig

The 9th lineup announcement has been made and timetables are up for this year's Fuji Rock Festival. So it's time to get ready and plan your weekend.
The festival is on July 30th, 31st and August 1st. Info:
Here are some general tips for the festival:


Most people take the shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno station. You need to get off at Echigo Yuzawa station. It takes over an hour and costs 6490yen from Ueno one-way. You can get tickets from the JR counter of any major JR station. You could get the return tickets in advance as well, or just get them when you get to Echigo Yuzawa.

Local trains cost about half the price of a shinkansen (3260yen), but take more than twice the time. You can get the JR Takasaki line from Ueno to Takasaki, then the JR Joetsu line to Minakami, then the infrequent Joetsu line extension to Echigo-Yuzawa. Check train times at Hyperdia.

A seishun juhachi kippu is even cheaper. This ticket gives you five daily coupons of unlimited travel on JR local and rapid trains (not express or shinkansen) for only 11500yen. You can divide the 5 tickets among your friends and it'll work out to be only 2300yen to get to the festival! You will need to travel together though. Even if there are only two of you, if you use it on the way there and back, it'll only cost you 2875yen each way. You can take the above local train route.

You can of course drive there. A car rental agency with English support is Nippon Rent-A-Car.

Free shuttle buses run to and from Echigo Yuzawa station from 12:00 on Thursday to Monday. There is no real timetable; they just keep going back and forth. Be prepared for long queues in the sun or rain. The free buses also stop at Tashiro, Mitsumata and Asagai if you're accommodation is around there.


Clothes etc:
*Hat. The peak will protect you from the sun and keep the rain out of your eyes.
*Raincoat. This is essential because umbrellas are not allowed in the festival site and it WILL rain. Some people wear plastic rain pants too.
*Strong shoes or boots. You will be doing a lot of walking in the rain and mud. Bring spares. Wellingtons/gum boots are popular.
*Sunglasses and sunscreen. You will be outside all day.
*Jacket. It sometimes gets cold at night, so bring something long-sleeved.
*Towels. Big towels for the shower/bath/sink/swimming, but also small towels for mopping up sweat and rain.
*Cash. There are no ATMs.
*Batteries. For your phone recharger, torch, camera etc.
*Portable ashtray. If you smoke.
*Tissues. Bring some little packs in case there's no loo paper or you get a runny nose, or if you're a messy eater.

For campers:
You can get most of these things from a 100yen shop.
*Torch/flashlight. The camp site is very dark. Some parts of the festival are pretty dark too.
*Plastic covers. For your backpack and camping gear on the way to/from the festival in case it rains.
*Insect repellent. You will be surrounded by forest.
*Rope. This is very handy when camping to rig up a clothesline or to secure broken tents. Remember a knife to cut it!
*Plastic tarps. Handy for putting under/over your tent, sitting on, makeshift shade etc.
*Mallet or hammer. You can't put in tent pegs with your bare hands.
*Small padlock. Theft isn't really a problem, but if you're worried about leaving stuff in your tent/backpack, put a small lock on the zipper.
*Something to mark your tent. There are thousands and they all look the same! Tape or a flag or something.

Other useful things:
*Insulated PET bottle cover. You can get them from a 100yen shop.
*Something to sit on. Small tarp, light fold-up chair, or even just a plastic bag.


Buying it there:
Most alcoholic drinks in the festival grounds cost 500yen. The beer is almost always Heineken but you can get some nice microbrewery and organic beer down around the Field of Heaven stage. Naeba Shokudo sells some good nihonshu (sake) and shochu.

Bringing it in:
Glass bottles and cans are not allowed to be brought into the festival grounds. Your bags will be checked each time you enter. But don't worry - alcohol is allowed to be brought in, so you can mix up drinks in PET bottles in your tent/room and then carry them into the festival. Bring a cooler box/bag along and get ice from the store near the front of the Prince Hotel. There are vending machines around the entrance but they mainly only sell Pocari Sweat, water and Coca-cola. So bring some spirits which you can mix with coke (vodka, bourbon, malibu etc) or water (shochu, whisky etc).


Japanese are obsessed with food so you will have plenty of good choices. There are food stalls around the entrance and in several spots in the festival grounds, the biggest being the Oasis/World Restaurant area. Most food is around 500yen. Good Japanese food can be had at Naeba Shokudo. Pizza at Field of Heaven. Vegetarians will find the most choices around Field Of Heaven and Gypsy Avalon.


The festival site is an enormous ski resort in the mountains so expect to spend a lot of time walking, walking and walking. You'll need to study the timetable and factor in long walking times between stages on opposite ends of the festival. Mud and crowds can hold you up too. The paths and boardwalks between stages take you through beautiful green forests.


The campsite covers a large golf course and area on the front left of the festival site. However, most of it is hilly so flat land is at a premium. The earlier you can get there, the better. Arrive on Thursday when it opens if you can. For women staying without men, there is a girls-only area in a great spot near the entrance.

The ideal place to pitch your tent:
*Flat ground
*Not too far from the entrance
*Not at the bottom of a hill as the lower areas get flooded and muddy
*Near (but not too close to!) toilets
*Near some trees for shade and to use as a post for a clothesline
*Not over or right next to the path

Bad examples:


Bring your phone but don't rely on it too much as you often can't get reception at the festival (especially with Softbank). Plan places and times to meet friends in advance. Bring a battery-operated phone recharger!


You can get stuff sent to and from the festival by Yamato for reasonable prices. There is a counter near the entrance where you can pack and post stuff. This is very useful if you're too tired to carry all your stuff home. The Yamato counter can also store your luggage throughout the festival. Details here.


Mokudo-tei is a tiny stage set up on the boardwalk in the middle of the forest where bands play intimate sets.
Day Dreaming/Silent Breeze is a 20-minute cable-car ride away up on top of a mountain. Some cool hip-hop and electronica acts play up there, there are weird games and costumes, a flying fox, a restaurant, dragonflies and a really fun relaxed atmosphere where you are allowed to act like children.
Naeba Shokudo is near the world food area/Red Marquee. You can sit undercover on the tatami, get some nice Japanese food and sake, as well as catch some bands on the small stage.
The Crystal Palace tent/Palace of Wonder area is a bizarre place near the festival entrance where you can have some all-night fun. Dance, play, have some cocktails and watch the Human Cannonball and Wheels of Death. Check out some up-and-coming bands on the Rookie A Go-Go stage.
If you have time, go right down to the very end of the festival beyond the Orange Court to the tent which will be Cuban-inspired this year. You can also get some good cocktails, chill down in the creek, and jam on the drums at Stoned Circle.
There are hammocks you can hang in, in the forest between the Gypsy Avalon stage and NGO area. Take a look at the NGO booths while you're there.
Ganban has a small stage near the World Restaurant area where DJs play. This is a fun and casual area to dance.


The kick-off party on Thursday night is one of the festival highlights for the early-comers. It's free to the public so some locals come and hold a bon-odori (traditional dance) and fireworks. Surprise bands and DJs play on the Red Marquee and Ganban stages while everyone gets hyped up ready for the festival.

Related posts:
Fuji Rock Festival tips 2009
Fuji Rock Festival 2010
Fuji Rock Festival 2009 Review
Fuji Rock Festival 2008 Review

On Tokyo Gig Guide:
Day one
Day two
Day three

Also check out:
Fujirockers blog
Fuji Rock English BBS
Facebook page

So, who wants to join the Tokyo Gig Guide FRF team?

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Friday 25 June 2010

Come see some bands tomorrow

by craig

This Saturday night (June 26th), down in Yoyogi there's a casual studio gig with some interesting live music.

Oppossum - New Tokyo indie-rock band.
Abikyokan - International avant-pop.
The Oversleep Excuse - Indie-exotica band.
Dakko - Post-rock/new wave project of Brendan from Belgium Internet.

The DJs will be Brendan Smith, Shu Miura.

It's at Stepway Studio in Yoyogi. Opens at 6pm and costs ony 1000yen.

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Saturday 19 June 2010

Kyushu pop festival photos!

by craig

Here are some of the highlights from the Kyushu Pop Festival on June 12th.

Puffy Shoes - Cute messy garage pop with cool 60s harmonies. You can see them on June 19th at Soup and June 26th at Ruby Room.

Bo-Peep - Tight, loud pop-punk. See them at Super Deluxe on July 2nd and Club Quattro on August 8th.

Hyacca (百蚊) - Wild and noisy post-punk which had the crowd going crazy.

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Sunday 13 June 2010

Wild Mood Swings in review

by craig

The second Wild Mood Swings DJ party was on May 29th and was fun, despite the nude violence.

I don't remember what I played for my second set as it was 5am and I'd had a few shochus, but here's what I think I played for the first set: (links go to YouTube videos)

* Mohammed Rafi - Jaan Pehechaan Ho (originally from the 1966 soundtrack of the Bollywood movie Gumnaam, and became popular from Ghost World soundtrack 2001)

* Tiga - Shoes (Canadian electro. From the album Ciao! 2009)

* Yamasuki - Kono Samourai (From the fantastically weird album Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki 1971)

* The Apples In Stereo - Go (from one of my favourite albums, The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone 2000)

* オーロラ三人娘 - クールな恋 (1969? Originally by ザ・ゴールデン・カップス. You may know this 巨人の星 version from the opening of ブラックバラエティ)

* Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - Snob (British hip-hop. From The Logic Of Chance 2010. The lyrics of the song were appropriate for this event - “Stop being a snob with your music”)

* Fabulous Souls - Take Me (Some great soul-funk, 1971, from Peanut Butter Wolf's Jukebox 45's 2002)

* The Lodger - The Good Old Days (Fine indie-pop. From Life Is Sweet 2008)

* New Order- True Faith (Not the most original choice, I know. From Substance 1987)

* Tanlines - Z (I love their new album, Settings 2010. Lofi electronic)

* LCD Soundsystem - Time To Get Away (Not from their new album, but a great track which somehow worked well mashed up with the Tanlines track. From Sound Of Silver 2007)

The night started off quietly with everyone just enjoying the eclectic tunes being played, some dancing, and as the night progressed, more people arrived, more drinks were consumed, and more and more dancing ensued. Good times. However, sometime after midnight, a drunk chinpira in a suit turned up. Before long, he started threatening people and took all of his clothes off! Finally, the staff managed to get him outside where he continued the same behaviour. Some frightened cops came and finally managed to take him away. Luckily, the guy was too drunk to cause anyone any harm.

Thanks to everyone who came. Look out for Volume 3 soon, perhaps at a different venue.

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Monday 7 June 2010

Kyushu Pop Festival this Saturday

by craig

On Saturday, June 12th Call And Response Records are planning a special gig with the focus on bands from Kyushu, in a wild parade of Mentai-Rock, Kabosu-Pop, and Kurobuta-Punk.

Most of the bands on the lineup for this show are either travelling from Kyushu to take part or musicians with roots in the area, with able assistance from some of the hottest sounds from the Tokyo underground scene.

It's at Motion in Shinjuku and starts at 4:00 p.m. If you get tickets in advance, it's 2000yen and on the door, tickets are 2300yen.

The bands are:

-Hyacca (百蚊): Gloriously fucked up yet undeniably accessible post-punk band from Fukuoka, with great songs, a wicked sense of humour, and fearsome energy to spare.

-Zibanchinka (地盤沈下): Eccentric garage punk quartet from Kagoshima, with one of the fiercest all-girl front lines in music.

-Bo-Peep: Originally from Fukuoka, Bo-Peep have carved a place for themselves as Tokyo's leading exponents of heavy garage punk, with successful tours all over the US and Europe to back them up.

-Me I Sashimi (ミー愛さしみ): Sharp edged Fukuoka instrumental post-rock trio.

-ruruxu/sinn: Pronounced "lulue-shin", experimental indie popsters ruruxu/sinn are one of the hottest young bands out of Fukuoka now, with last year's excellent album "Picnic" one of the finest Japanese indie debuts in recent memory.

-Puffy Shoes: Representing the Tokyo area, and formed only last year, Puffy Shoes are the perfect collision of chaotic lo-fi scuzz-punk discord and sweeter than honey 1960s girl group melodies.

-FUN☆ANA: Featuring guitarist Yoshida Hajime from Fukuoka/Tokyo experimental Beefheart-punk legends Panicsmile, FUN☆ANA are a psychedelic kaleidoscope of post-punk guitar, vintage 70s Japanese hairy alt-rock, and pure, unreconstructed hard rock.

-Chewz: At the forefront of Tokyo's current new wave of no wave, Chewz are angular post-punk sex at its fizziest, fuzziest and funkiest.

-DJ Hiropo: Originally from Oita Prefecture, formerly of new wave "Nintendo-Punk" outfit Binary Kidd, and currently of new project Dotama Kachi World, DJ Hiropo promises "Humour and pathos comedy DJ". Be afraid...

Details on Tokyo Gig Guide

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