Population: 126 million
Japan is often described as a world of its own. Both eccentric and electrifying, Japanese culture is a leader in food, fashion and of course, music. Known for sushi, Harajuku and out-of-this-world fashion statements, Japan is a standout hub of the arts in Asia. The country’s bustling attitude has helped the population to embrace a rapidly expanding presence of electronic music amongst Japan’s many other cultural outlets.
Japan has always maintained a more Westernized mindset than many other nearby Asian countries. Though highly distinct from any Western culture, this mentality has allowed Japan to be a step ahead of many of its surrounding territories in terms of music. Early on, big music festivals that focused on rock and later on, electronic music, began to grow. Summer Sonic Festival began in 2000 and later created an expansion known as Sonicmania that showcased electronic music in specific. In 2014, Ultra Music Festival expanded to Japan and has continued to return each year to an enthusiastic crowd.
Major Music Festivals:
Ultra Music Festival Japan (2014 – present)
Sonicmania (2011 – present)
The Labyrinth Festival (2002 – present)
Until 2014, dancing was actually banned in unauthorized areas (fueiho)
Strict closing times and regulations for night clubs
In tandem to its progressive festival brands, Japan also is home to several internationally known nightclubs like WOMB and ageHA. Though authorities in Japan were notoriously known to maintain a strict policy over night clubs – including one rule that was only recently abolished that stated that dancing was banned in unauthorized areas – the culture seems to be relatively accepting of electronic music and the culture that surrounds it.
International DJs like Armin van Buuren and Kaskade have large fan-bases in Japan, but much of Japanese youth culture is preoccupied with J-Pop (Japanese pop music) and K-Pop (Korean pop music). These musical crazes have enormous and loyal followings, which has stalled the explosive climb of electronic music that much of the Western world has experienced.
However, plenty of the population are showing an interest in the music, so there is absolutely a promising future for Japanese electronic music. This includes local talents like Ken Ishii and DJ Krush along with Japan-based labels like Ultra Japan and EDMF. As Japan continues to nourish its own individual electronic culture, the audience for festival and nightlife culture will also expand.