Culture

Your Essential Guide To Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival

What is Fuji Rock Festival?

Fuji Rock Festival is the largest outdoor music event in Japan, held in Naeba Ski Resort, in Niigata Prefecture. It runs over three days with more than 200 acts from Japan and all over the world.

How do you get tickets?

Tickets can be purchased through the Fuji Rock Festival website (though they’re mostly sold out now. Ticket types include general admission for one, two or three days, a campsite ticket, parking ticket or passes to the special caravan park onsite.

Aussie band Sunnyside gave AWOL the inside word on surviving Fuji Rock Festival, ahead of their appearance this year. Here are their best tips.

 

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Hottest tip: where to find coffee

When powering through three massive days of partying at Fuji Rock, coffee is a must have. Tokyo’s third-wave coffee scene is one of the most happening in all of the world. Just ask Vaughan, Tokyo coffee expert and the promoter bringing Sunnyside to Japan.

Vaughan’s Fuji Rock coffee stand recommendations are “Little Nap Coffee – Hamada San is the owner and he makes a kick-ass coffee stand there. There’s always a queue, but worth the wait.”

Another option is, “Ijiri Coffee From Osaka, (who) sets up a coffee stand by his tent somewhere in the mountains – try and find him! He has exceptional taste in music and plays only vinyl.”

 

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What to do with money

Bring cash, which seems obvious, but try and bring more than usual. Japan is a very cash-based country, so expect it to be even more cash-based than even that at the festival. There are ATM and charge machines in the outer shop area, but they’re not as plentiful as other festival sites.

If you smoke…

Try and pick up a portable ashtray. Butting on the floor in this beautiful natural park is a pretty dick move. You can buy portable ashtray pouches in most convenience stores, they’re usually near the lighters.

Don’t forget a camp chair

A comfy place to sit either back at camp or in the audience never goes astray. If you didn’t pack one from back home, pop by Don Quijote (Donki), Japan’s ubiquitous discount lifestyle store chain before making the trek to Fuji Rock. Keep an eye out for the big blue penguin logo and you’re on the right track.

Multiple outfit options

 

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Bright, interactive, multicoloured, unique. Anything that will help you stick out in the crowd when you lose your crew is essential. But something that’s a bit of a conversation starter can help you establish a new crew, too.

Just like the camp chair hunt, you’re always bound to find something over at Donki. Sunglasses are good! The weirder the better. Also great conversation starters for people “here try these on!”

Wet wipes

A Fuji Rock Festival must have. A few days at a festival can leave people with an unfriendly stench, and these are a good way to freshen up if you would prefer to avoid the communal showers (not recommended, but you do you).

Japan also sells mint-infused wet wipes/personal wipes from most convenience stores if you want to feel extra fresh. If wet wipes just don’t cut it, there’s Yukisasa-no-Yu, a 24-hour natural hot spring bath (onsen) just a 10-minute walk from the festival gates. Entrance is ¥900 (AU$12) for adults, which may seems like a lot for a bath, but you’ll appreciate it.

BYOB

You can bring your own food and drink into Fuji Rock, including alcohol. The only catch is glass is strictly prohibited – it’s a safety thing – but everything else goes. If you run out of supplies there are shops selling drinks, snacks and alcohol a short trek from the festival grounds. There are bars and food stands there, too, of course.

 

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A plan and strategy

Knowing where you want to meet to rally the troops for certain acts you all want to see is a must. You don’t want to be alone dancing to your favourite acts! “Meet near the big tree, front left of the stage” is our general rule.

The main stages are the Red Marquee, Green Stage, White Stage and Field of Heaven, this is where most the bigger names perform. Of course, it’s exciting to see the stars, but Fuji is littered with smaller hidden party areas too, and if you’re not hunting some of these places down you’re missing out on half of the action. Sunnyside will be playing at Crystal Palace Tent and Café de Paris  on July 27 so come and find us.

Accommodation options

If you’re going to Fuji Rock you’ll (hopefully) have this on lock by now. There are three main options: Go for the day and return to Tokyo, go and stay in a nearby hotel, or camp in one of the three campsites. You can find out all the info on the Fuji Rock website.

One little insider’s tip they won’t tell you about though is the Oyado Honjin hotel offers a masive recovery breakfast buffet, all you can eat style until 2pm for ¥1,500 yen (AU$20).

Transportation

 

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Driving is easy for Aussies – you can get an international drivers licence before you leave home and you’re good to go. You will need a Parking Pass to leave the car near the site though. Parking sites “Festival”, “Shirakaba” and “Asagai” are all within walking distance.

Fuji Rock offers round trip JR and Shinkansen (bullet train) packs too, you can pick them up from the Official Tour Center, (though it is all in Japanese).

If you want to save mega cash and have the time, regular trains from Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa Station the closest to Fuji Rock Festival costs ¥3,350 yen (AU$44) each way. It takes about four hours and requires three transfers each way.

How did Sunnyside get invited to play Fuji Rock?

It’s a bit of a strange story really. Last year we played a festival up in Mullumbimby and made friends with Japanese funk band Osaka Monaurail. We had such a great time with those guys and thought to ourselves we should try to get over to Japan.

Our bass player Gordon sent them a message hoping to play a show with them, and one the members of their band had a connection to the festival. We then had to hustle and organise a tour around the dates of the festival to ensure we do it right and have the most fun possible.

Tell us about what you’re going to do there

We have booked in a jam packed tour of eight shows, including two shows at Fuji Rock on July 27. We’ll play in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya and at Fuji Rock. We are over the moon with the amount of help and support we have had leading into this tour and wish to thank all involved.

Sunnyside Japan tour, including Fuji Rock Festival

  • July 18: 440 Shimokitazawa, Tokyo
    With Elle Shimada Band, Minakekke, Miyake Haruka
  • July 19: Nanahari, Tokyo
    With Kitazato Akihisa (ex. Alfred Beach Sandal), Wool + the pants.
  • July 20: Nui, Tokyo
    with Osaka Monaurail
  • July 22: Urbanguild, Kyoto
    with Wa Yo Set (Osaka), Elle Shimada Collective
  • July 23: Namba Bears, Osaka
    With blanka (Nagoya), Natural Killers
  • July 24: KD Japon, Nagoya
    With Penguinrush, Elle Shimada Collective
  • July 27: Fuji Rock Festival