Live band/music scene in Japan

What's the live music scene like the Japan, I would assume it's all
happening in Tokyo? I'm not talking about karaoke bars 'n all that.
I'm talking about actual bands like punk, metal, rock.

Is it mostly cover bands or can you also find bands that play
original music?

What are the chances of a gaijin going to Japan with a guitar on
his back and joining a band there?

Hey Gakami. I was in Japan for 6 yrs a while back played in a successful band for about 3 yrs before deciding to head back to Oz. Things have obviously changed since I was there around 10 yrs ago but we made some good money and had heaps of gigs.

The longer you stick around and network, the better your chances. Just get around to gigs jam with as many bands as you can, get together with other gaijin who may be of the same direction and things should work out.

Get back to your own forum Kezza! ;)

I have a friend who is in Tokyo right now who used to manage bands in Oz and the band scene in Tokyo is awesome! Her room mate plays in a alt-country/rock duo and they play'd one gig and the next week they were booked for 4 nights the next week. It can be done...every night of the week thou in Shibuya there are some local rock/punk bands playing on the sidewalk! Some really good too.

I'm thinking of moving to Tokyo in a year or so to teach/train/band thing it.

- Juggs


responses from kezza and jdee... geez I should've just stayed in the
aussie forum..

kezza - that band you were in, were they also gaijin or did you play
with local japanese?

jdee - it really helps if you look like a westerner, it's all part of the

It's great to hear that the band scene is happening in Japan. Of all the
asian countries I think the japanese have the best taste in music, with
the best understanding of western music. The koreans come second in
the pop scene. The chinese' taste in music suck so much that I'm
actually embarrassed about it, athough they are changing slowly I
think.. very very slowly.

I was just asking if I ever go to japan (hopefully sooner than later)
whether to bring my music setup with me.

Are there heaps of bands gunning for record contracts in japan like in
the US and australia? Is it very competitive? I'm not referring to the pop
scene and pop idols. I'm referring to the regular j-rock/punk. How do
these styles of music fare in the charts there?

Hey Gakami. The band was an all aussie gaijin band called the Hitmen which i got together with guys i met there and it was a covers band that played anything and everything. we had quite a few permanent gigs and played about 3 times a week on average for big bucks but i don't think that is as easy anymore in the current conditions to get that sort of money.

I wouldn't recommend the record companies there as they chew you up and spit you out with less concern than even most western record companies.

what music set up are you refering to?

what do you mean "current conditions"? why do you say that
about japanese record companies? what is your experience with

i have a ProTools setup with an MBox, connected to my mac
laptop, which means i have an portable industry standard studio I
can take anywhere, including a good microphone and a studio
synth. This is not counting my bass and whatever else I can carry.

"current conditions" mean that from people i know still living and working there, the gigd aren't paying as much these days, whether it is a reflection of the economy or there are more bands around or a combination of both, who knows. Same as here in Oz, the live scene is just not that healthy at the moment.

And yes, I had experiences with them. if you are recording your own stuff and simply lease the product to them you may have more control over what you are doing or find a very small company that is into what you are doing and seems to want to committ to your cause.

Musical gear is real cheap to pick up over there so you will be in heaven.


Kezza is gear IS quite cheap there. There's a suburb between Akihabara and Suidobashi that has a long street that has JUST musically gear for sale. I had to drag myself out of there without purchasing anything. mmmm cheap Fender Mustangs,..mmm (drooling)..arrrr.

- Juggs

Do you think it's easier to go in as a songwriter (the inexhaustible j-
pop scene) and aim for a publishing deal then, as opposed to a whole
band going for a record/production deal?

About music gear, I've been trying to find out whether they are cheaper
or not. I would assume that Japanese-made brands like Yamaha would
be a whole lot cheaper there than here, is that true? But JDee you
mentioned Fender? Do they have a Fender factory there now, is that
why they're pretty cheap?

Fender have had a factory there for ages now.

- Juggs

When I was there last summer gear was the same price as it is everywhere else, no bargains. Lots of cool vintage shops though.

My brother is living over there and doing really well, he joined a band as the drummer and started playing some pretty high profile gigs (opening for guitar wolf and stuff like that. High profile to me at least.)

Now he's also got his own group with a couple of japanese guys, and is constantly backing up jpop bands on tv (I don't know how he swung that). It seems at least he can do no wrong over there (musically of course)

yeah i checked out instruments prices on the internet for music
shops in japan, and the prices are about the same, no real savings
on the fenders or yamahas.

das - is your brother's band doing originals or covers? sounds like
he's doing ok there. is that the only thing he's doing though, or is
it a side thing while he's teaching english during the day?

In the band he fronts he does all original stuff, and in the band he's drumming for he plays their original songs. Its part time at the moment, he still pays the bills by teaching ESL.

This is a clip of him with his bandmate playing some original stuff with a band his manager pieced together.

cool man i checked out the video .. he's got a manager?? He's got
a manager as a guitarist?

Really cool that he's got a female drummer, didn't think I'd see
any in Japan.

he's got a manager?? He's got a manager as a guitarist?

Yeah, I think the guy who manages the group he drums for heard some of his solo stuff and decided to manage him as well  (he doesn't manage him as a guitarist, he manages his band ). 

That girl is a pretty good drummer.