Summer days in Tokyo are notoriously hot and humid. This year, because of electricity issues related to the Tohoku Earthquake, air conditioners across Japan are turned down – if they’re on at all. What’s the best way to cool off? You could head for the beach, or – as about 100,000 people, including some of the TokyoFashion.com crew, did this weekend – the mountains. What were 100,000 people doing hanging out together in the mountains of Japan? Three words – Fuji…Rock…Festival!!!
The Fuji Rock Festival is one of the most famous music festivals in all of Japan. From its now-legendary typhoon-struck beginnings in the shadow of Mt. Fuji almost 15 years ago to its move to Naeba – and subsequent rise in popularity – Fuji Rock prides itself as the granddaddy of all of Japan’s now-numerous summer music festivals.
Fuji Rock is much more than just three days of hundreds of world-famous bands playing on stages scattered around a beautiful green mountainside setting (although it is that, too). The festival brings together a huge group of extremely friendly, nature-peace-and-music-loving people that some have called, for lack of a better term, “hippies”. It’s hard to think of a place in Japan where it’s easier to make new friends than Fuji Rock.
Besides the music, there is camping, plenty of food and drink, performers, arts and crafts booths, all of the trees and rivers you could ever dream of, and even a cable car to the top of one of the mountains. Various NGOs are on hand to raise awareness of social issues in Japan. This year, we saw a number of anti-nuclear campaigners on site – as you might expect after the Fukushima disaster.
The bands at this year’s Fuji Rock Festival included The Chemical Brothers, Towa Tei, Coldplay, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Manu Chao, The Kills, The Naked and Famous, Yellow Magic Orchestra (with Ryuichi Sakamoto), Jimmy Eat World, CSS, Sugar Plum Ferry (from Taiwan, not the one from Sweden), 80Kidz, and hundreds of others. It’s impossible to see all of the bands because many of them are playing at the same time, but we did our best!
Storms dumped heavy rains on all three days of this year’s Fuji Rock. That’s nothing new for the festival. While it does create a lot of mud, it doesn’t slow the 24/7 party atmosphere. The wet weather meant that the fashion on display this year was mostly rain jackets and rain boots. Fuji Rock fashion is definitely something that you have to see to believe. Years before the term “Yama Girls” became hip in Tokyo via fashion magazines, Japanese girls (and guys) at Fuji Rock were dancing away their days and nights in stylish outfits of colorful patterned mountain gear.
There will be plenty of music magazines and music websites posting pictures and video of the various bands who played at Fuji Rock 2011. Instead of bands, we decided that this year we would focus our coverage on the concertgoers and their colorful rain fashion. We only brought a compact camera with us – and we were using it most of the time in the rain – so please forgive the less-than-studio quality of the pictures. We hope that the photos will give you a taste of the Fuji Rock Festival vibe. And we really hope that they might encourage you to check it out for yourself! As usual, you can click on any of the pictures to see them in high resolution.
Once the festival is over, it’s about an hour and fifteen minutes on the fast and comfortable Shinkansen (bullet train) back to Tokyo!
For information on next year’s Fuji Rock Festival (Fuji Rock 2012), keep an eye on the official Smash Japan website.