Summer music festivals in Japan

Make the most of the sun by heading to these top music festivals in Tokyo and further afield
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Scorching heat, out-of-the-way locations and steep prices, sure, but Japan's many summer music festivals also provide an astonishing variety of settings, styles and genres, along with appearances by many world-class acts and a healthy dose of anarchy otherwise so rarely found on these shores.

Mega-events like Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic aside, the supply ranges from refined indie fests and relaxed beach parties to fine-tuned techno and taiko celebrations – so all you have to do is check out our list below, choose your favourite, and get ready to rock out in the great outdoors (or indoors).

If you're looking for a different kind of festival, check out our roundup of the best summer firework festivals or our list of beer gardens.

Our top festival picks

Music, Music festivals

In Tokyo: Summer Sonic 2018

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What this archetypal city-based music festival lacks in setting, it makes up in convenience. While other festivals boast views of rolling hills or stunning lakes, Summer Sonic has easy access from the city and an abundance of clean toilets, and – along with a cracking line-up – sometimes that’s all you need. There are multiple stages at this two-day weekend festival. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Beck are the headliners this year, along with a host of current hit makers and indie darlings such as Marian Hill, Billie Eilish, Portugal The Man, St Vincent and more.

Japanese act to watch: DYGL – an up-and-coming quartet known for their stripped-down rock sound.

Music, Music festivals

In Tokyo: Tokyo Jazz Festival 2018

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Japan’s biggest jazz festival always features a stellar lineup of artists. The main stage in NHK Hall hosts the headliners on September 1 and 2, which this year include Herbie Hancock and Sadao Watanabe Orchestra. But for something a bit special, you’re better off exploring the free gigs at the outdoor stage along Yoyogi Park’s Keyaki Namiki street (from August 31).

Japanese act to watch: With a fast-growing fan base all around the world, Cornelius is always best experienced live, especially at a hometown show like this where his synchronised sound, video and lighting effects packed performance will be met with rapture.

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Music, Music festivals

In Tokyo: Slow Live in Ikegami Honmonji

icon-location-pin Ikegami
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Held in the traditional Ikegami Honmonji temple in the southern suburbs, this annual outdoor music festivals known for its laidback vibes. Local indie and established artists rework the songs into acoustic versions and so you can expect a smooth relaxing time here.

Japanese act to watch: Takashi Nagazumi, who performs as Hanaregumi, is well-known for the quality of his voice, which critics have lauded for its warm, soulful quality.

Music, Music festivals

Outside Tokyo: Sukiyaki Meets the World

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This premier world music festival in Japan is held within the picturesque surrounds of the sparsely populated town of Nanto, some 400km west of Tokyo. Since its inception in 1991, Sukiyaki Meets the World has attracted musicians from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, turning this into a sort of social gathering for cultural exchange as much as a musical festival. This year, for the first time in the festival history, you can even expect a band from the Golan Heights.

Japanese act to watch: The band Menyo Crusaders have a unique sound that marries Japanese folk songs with Latin rhythms.

More festival fun

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