Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Fuji Rock Festival Tips 2017


Going to Fuji Rock Festival this year? Here is some useful advice for festivalgoers.

PACKING LIST
  • Hat. You will be spending most of your time without shelter. Not only will it protect you from the sun, but it will also help keep the inevitable rain out of your eyes. 
  • Sunscreen. Don't end up a red lobster.
  • Waterproof shoes. It is usually muddy and you'll be doing a lot of walking. Hiking boots or rubber boots are good, otherwise some old shoes that you don't mind destroying. A spare pair is a good idea.
  • Raincoat. It is likely to rain and umbrellas are not allowed in the festival site, so bring a light raincoat or poncho. Many people also bring rain pants.
  • Spare clothes. You will get wet, muddy and sweaty.
  • Small towels are very handy for mopping up sweat and rain, protecting your neck, washing your face etc.
  • Cash. There are no ATMs on site or in the surrounding area.
  • Batteries. For your smartphone recharger, camera and torch.
  • Rubbish bags. Not only for rubbish but for keeping things dry and to sit on when the ground is wet. These are usually freely given out at some places in the festival site.
  • Something to sit on. You usually have to sit on the ground so just a plastic bag can be enough, or a small cushion or fold-up chair.
  • Painkillers for headaches and hangovers.
  • Portable smartphone recharger. You will probably be relying on your phone a lot.
  • Insect repellent. Especially useful for campers. You will be in the forest.
  • Umbrella. You can't bring it in the festival site but it's ok in the campsite and while you're queuing for tickets and the bus.
  • Plastic covers or things to keep your gear dry while you're walking around and waiting in the rain.
  • Something to sleep on. Seriously, campers. Bring a blow-up mattress or at least a roll-up mat.

FROM THE 100 YEN SHOP
Visit a large 100 yen shop and pick up a few useful things. Here are some ideas:
  • Disposable rain coats, rain suits and ponchos. These are cheap and will break but are good for a backup.
  • Plastic zip-lock bags to keep your camera, phone and wallet dry.
  • Torch. Absolutely necessary for campers but good for everyone else too. Parts of the festival site can be pretty dark at night.
  • Pocket tissues and wet tissues to keep clean.
  • Plastic tarps (blue sheets).
  • Spare tent pegs.
  • Mallet for banging in tent pegs.
  • Small fold-up chair or fold-up cushion for sitting on.
  • Rope. Can be useful for campers.
  • Pocket knife. Also useful for campers.
  • Insulated PET bottle cover or portable water bottle.


ALCOHOL 
Buying it there:
Most alcoholic drinks in the festival grounds cost 600 yen. The beer is almost always Heineken but you can also get some craft beer at Craft Beer Market at Orange Cafe, Happa in the campsite and Tokoro Tengoku. Naeba Shokudo sells some good nihonshu (sake) and shochu. The Tokoro Tengoku/Cinema Fuji has some decent cocktails, fresh juice and cheap chu-hi. For real bars and wine, go to Palace of Wonder or Cafe de Paris. Some cheap drinks and makeshift bars can usually be found near the festival entrance and the surrounding area.

Bringing it in:
Glass bottles and cans are not allowed to be brought into the festival grounds and 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 plastic bottles in your tent/room and then carry them into the festival. Bring a cooler box/bag along to keep in your tent/room and get ice from the store near the front of the Prince Hotel. There are vending machines around the entrance which mainly only sell Pocari Sweat, water and Coca-Cola so bring some spirits which you can mix with coke (vodka, bourbon, rum etc.) or water (shochu, whisky etc.).



FOOD
This is Japan so food is a huge part of the festival and you will find plenty of good choices. The biggest concentration of food stalls is the Oasis/World Restaurant area near the Red Marquee. You will also find clusters of them in front of the festival site, at Palace of Wonder, Gypsy Avalon, and other stages and spots. Most food is around 600yen. Good, simple and cheap Japanese food can be had at Naeba Shokudo. Some food details have been announced at Fujirockers.org.

VEGETARIAN FOOD
Unfortunately most of the food is meat-heavy, but vegetarians can try the Mumbai Indian stall, the pizza stall, the omusubi (rice ball) stall, Pommeke fries and Naeba Shokudo in the Oasis food area, veggie curry at Big Cake and an inari sushi stall in the Blue Galaxy area, Toyama Aozora and possibly some other things in the Avalon area, the bakery and pizza stalls at Field of Heaven and there are likely to be a few other options here and there. It is advisable to bring a bit of extra food yourself too.


WALKING
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. It can take up to half an hour. Remember that crowds, mud and walking in the dark can hold you up. The paths and boardwalks between stages take you through beautiful green forests so the walking is usually pleasant. The boardwalk can be a quick way to get between the Green Stage and Field of Heaven. It will also take a long time to walk into the festival from the campsite, nearby hotels and the bus stop.


SENDING AND STORING STUFF

You can get stuff sent to and from the festival by Yamato at 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.

INFORMATION CENTRE
In the Oasis food area there is an information centre that you can go to if you lose anything, have any problems, need first aid etc. Nearby there is also a notice board where they will post any changes to the schedule and people can leave messages for each other. Fujirockers also has a tent around here where you can use the Internet.

THURSDAY NIGHT
The kick-off party on Thursday night is highly recommended. 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 and ready for the festival.

CAMPING
  • The campsite covers a large golf course and surrounding area on the front left of the festival site. Unfortunately, most of it is hilly so flat land is at a premium. The earlier you can get there, the better. Definitely try to arrive on Thursday when it opens if you can. All the best spots get snapped up on Thursday. You can camp from Thursday at 12:00 to Monday at 12:00.
  • For women, there is a girls-only area in a great spot near the entrance. 
  • The ideal place to pitch your tent is on flat ground (seriously! You will see some tents on crazy angles), not too far from (or close to) the entrance, not at the bottom of a hill as the lower areas get flooded and muddy, near (but not too close to!) toilets, ideally near some trees for shade and to use as a post for a clothesline (but you're not supposed to do this), and not right next to the path (unless you want people falling on and kicking mud on your tent).
  • At the entrance to the campsite there is a camping service station. The staff there can help you if you have trouble pitching your tent and other things. There is also a BBQ area here for campers who bring their own food. You are not supposed to use fire or barbecues in the campsite.
  • There are some showers and onsen (hot spring bath) you can use near the campsite entrance. Expect long queues and no privacy. Around the campsite there are some toilets which have sinks next to them that you can use to wash up. Some of the nearby hotels will let you use their public baths for a small fee.
  • A tent with a shaded entrance is ideal so you can escape from the hot tent, sun and rain during the mornings.
  • A fly for your tent will help you keep dry.
  • If you buy a different ticket, you can camp in another camping area called Pyramid Garden. It is a flat, grassy area with its own stage. There is also a Moon Caravan camping area where you can camp with your car or dog.
  • Before you go to the festival, good place to find cheap camping and outdoor gear is at a 'home centre' (big DIY/furniture shops) like Simachu, Cainz, Komeri etc or cheap department store type places like Don Quixote or Olympic. You can find good quality stuff at outdoor stores like L-Breath. Amazon.co.jp has a big range of outdoor gear too. 
  • Ganban offers tent rental for the festival but unfortunately it's already sold out.
TRANSPORT
  • Most people take the shinkansen from Tokyo or Ueno station. You need to get off at Echigo-Yuzawa station. It takes just over an hour and costs 5940 yen (unreserved seat) or 6660 yen (reserved seat) from Ueno one-way. There are about one or two trains an hour. 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. Check train times at Hyperdia.
  • Local trains cost almost half the price of a shinkansen (3350yen), but take almost four hours. 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. Plan the train times in advance 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) between July 20 and September 10 for only 11850yen. You can divide the 5 tickets among your friends and it'll work out to be only 2370yen 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 2962yen each way. You can take the above local train route. The seishun juhachi kippu is available at the ticket counters of most major JR stations.
  • There are some official bus services available from Tokyo and other places. They take longer and cost more than the shinkansen though, Details at Ganban or the official tour centre.
  • You can of course drive there. A car rental agency with English support is Nippon Rent-A-Car
  • 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 buses also stop at Tashiro, Mitsumata and Asagai if your accommodation is around there. Don't worry if you don't have your festival ticket yet, the driver won't check. The bus costs 500 yen but the return trip is free.
  • You could get a taxi from Echigo-Yuzawa station to the site if you are in group of three or four, or if you are rich. It will probably cost around 7000 yen.
  • If you're leaving by shinkansen on Saturday or Sunday night, you will have to leave early enough to get the last train. This will mean missing the headliners on that day.
  • More transport details on the official site.
NOT JUST THE BIG STAGES
The big name acts will be on the Green Stage, White Stage, Red Marquee and Field of Heaven but make sure you check out some of the other stages and areas of the site too.
  • 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. It costs 1500 yen return to get the gondola there.
  • 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 performers on the small stage. 
  • The Crystal Palace tent and 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 Mega Globe of Death. Check out some up-and-coming bands late at night on the Rookie A Go-Go stage. 
  • If you have time, go right down to the very end of the festival beyond the Field of Heaven to the Cafe de Paris tent. You can get some good cocktails and wine, catch some interesting entertainment and cool down your feet in the creek. Also checkout the nearby Orange Cafe and Busker Stop areas.
  • There are hammocks you can use in the forest at the back between the Gypsy Avalon stage and NGO area. Take a look at the NGO booths while you're there and catch a performance on the Gypsy Avalon stage.
  • Ganban has a small stage near the World Restaurant area where DJs play. This is a fun and casual area to dance late at night.
  • Cinema Fuji is a cool area to hang out and watch some late night films or buskers. There are also some good cocktails, juice and food here at Tokoro Tegoku. You can cool your feet in the creek here too. It's past Kids Land, between the Green and White stages.
  • There are also a couple of areas behind the Prince Hotel called Pyramid Garden and Moon Caravan open only to campers.
SMARTPHONE APP
There is a great free app you can download to help decide which bands to see and plan your timetable. In the App Store or Google Play.

MORE INFO
Day One (Tokyo Gig Guide)
Day Two (Tokyo Gig Guide)
Day Three (Tokyo Gig Guide)

See you there!

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2 Comments:

Blogger Shapath Das said...

nice post

7:08 pm, September 17, 2017  
Blogger Enndery Ashwin said...

Thanks

5:53 pm, October 17, 2017  

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