Summer Festivals: Fuji Rock

Try to picture this: you are up in the mountains, 40 minutes from the nearest train station, in a ski resort-come-festival grounds; surrounded by forest and low-lying clouds; music beating from every direction (200 different performers over 3 days); 11 stages spread out through the valley connected by paths that lead through forests and over shallow rivers; disco balls raised above the paths which bounce pieces of light off into the dark forest at night; camping grounds full of colourful tents; and 100,000 happy festival goers enjoying this amazing event.

Fuji Rock festival was on July 25, 26, 27. My friend and I went just for the final day/night. Tickets are fairly expensive – for a one-day pass plus camping, we paid about $200 each! But it was so worth it. If the lineup is good next year, I definitely want to go again, and probably for the whole weekend – one day isn’t enough to soak it all up!

The first ever festival, back in 1997, was at the base of Mt Fuji, which is where its name comes from. Although it featured some pretty big names – Green Day, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine – it wasn’t very successful due to bad weather. The next year they tried a venue in Tokyo, and the following year they eventually moved to its current location up in Niigata prefecture at Naeba Ski Resort.

I’ve been to a few music festivals in my life. Usually it’s a one-day event with a bunch of stages, a couple of big tents, some side show alley type entertainment and a lot of greasy food. Fuji Rock takes festivals to a whole other level!

Fuji Rock

A very colourful, magical, fun, and well thought out concept!

Unexpectedly, there were lots of young families. I guess there’s no reason kids should miss out! For the little ones, there was even a designated ‘Kids Land’. It reminded me a bit of Pocahontas-land! Super fun and cute.

Some of the different stages on the east side. It was a fair hike from the main stages on the west side!

John Butler Trio! An Australian rock/reggae band who play a lot near my hometown actually. They are really popular in Oz. John Butler is the lead/singer/guitarist (on the left) – his guitar skills are pretty insane. The newest member is Grant Gerathy on the drums. Loved how he was smiling for the whole gig. And on the right is Byron Luiters, who played the bass, keyboard and cello, and even sang a little!

Lorde! An amazingly talented 17 year old electropop/rock singer from New Zealand. She talked to the crowd about how grateful she was to be there, as did all the acts we saw, but she just seemed really honest and mature beyond her years. I love love loved her! The climax at the end of her show with the streamers bursting out still gives me goosebumps!

Possibly the biggest crowd drawer for the night – OutKast! If you’ve been under a rock for the past couple of decades, they’re a hip hop group from the U.S. The duo, André 3000 and Big Boi, were probably most well known back in the early 2000s, and this year are doing their ’20th anniversary world tour’. It was so cool to hear songs like ‘Hey Ya’ and ‘Ms Jackson’ which everyone knows, and André was pretty funny – at one point he jumped up and sat on the speakers, but couldn’t get down because it was raining and the stage was slippery! Someone had to get him a towel to land on. That’ll teach him!

Can’t wait for next year!!

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4 thoughts on “Summer Festivals: Fuji Rock

    • Thanks for reading! Yeah, it’s quite famous within Japan – although most people think it’s too expensive and too far away and too hard to get tickets!

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  1. 森の中のお祭りとコンサートは とても めずらしくて すばらしい。
    山の中は ちょっと さむそうですが、気温が 何度くらいでしたか。

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    • 雨が降ったり止んだりしたのでちょっと寒かったで、特に夜にテントの中はひどい寒さでしたね。気温は何度でしたのか覚えてませんが、16~20度だったと思います。

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