Music: Psycho le Cemu 15th Anniversary Live @ Zepp Diver City

© 2014 SWEET CHILD

© 2014 SWEET CHILD

I didn’t spend Valentine’s Day weekend with Mr. J, but rather hopped a bus to Tokyo with some friends to catch a two-day reunion concert of one of my favorite bands that disbanded several years ago.  So after giving him his chocolate that morning, off I went!

Little did I know I would be reuniting with some gals I used to run around with 5-10 years ago, too!  It was a really fun weekend filled with adventure, great people, old visual kei (Japan’s version of glam rock) throwbacks, and lots goods/cosplayers.  What’s more awesome than that?

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Music: PIERROT’s 2 Day Reunion Live DICTATORS CIRCUS FINAL

© J // Washing Rice Blog

PIERROT’s announcement on Shinjuku ALTA’s big screen.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

Earlier this year on April 12th at Shinjuku ALTA, visual kei band PIERROT announced a two day reunion raibu (live/concert) for October 24th and 25th at Saitama Super Arena.  The crowd that gathered at ALTA was huge, especially considering 8 years had already passed since their break-up, an eternity in the music industry world.  But this, as well as the announcement of the reopening of their fan club, Arlequin, through 2014-2015, were welcome news for people like me who never got the chance to see them perform live before their split.

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Music: Fuji Rock Festival 2014

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

So Fuji Rock Festival, ya’ll!  Fuji Rock, held at the end of July, is arguably the big daddy of all music festivals in Japan.  It and the Summer Sonic Festival, held mid-August, compete for the biggest international headliners, although either one is great if you’re new to the Japanese music scene and want to sample some new artists within the safety net of more well-known international acts to fall back on.  So how do you pick?

Fuji Rock is set amongst the lush mountains and greens of the Naeba Ski Resort located in Niigata prefecture.  On top of the music, it prides itself on being an eco-friendly event and that depends on volunteer help along with hired workers to keep everything running smoothly.  Most people camp out as long as they’re attending, so expect to encounter a lot of hippy and mountain girl/boy types.  There’s a lot of drinking and bonding with others/the earth going on over good music and eats.

Summer Sonic, on the other hand, is pretty much about music and music only.  Summer Sonic tends to feature more pop and billboard/oricon chart acts than Fuji Rock.  There’s no camping on premises or any extra frills.  That said, Summer Sonic’s one-day ticket is almost half the price of Fuji Rock.  Fuji Rock can really add up with all the extra traveling, camping, parking, etc. expenses tacked on to the original ticket price.  One of the girls I was chatting with at the festival blew about half her month’s salary on transport, 3 day festival ticket, and 3 nights at the nearby Prince Hotel.  Reasonable accommodation outside of roughing it is few and far between.

But if you know me, you know I like doing things on a budget and I’m not very outdoorsy.  So without further ado, here’s my take on how to do Fuji Rock for one day as a single, female traveler, and as cheaply as possible without camping. 🙂

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Music: Gabrielle Aplin @ Tokyo Billboard Live

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

I heard Gabrielle Aplin was coming to Japan and playing a few gigs, and it worked out that I was able to schedule an appointment at a clinic not too far away from where she was playing on the same day to have a reason to take off work and go.  It was my first time attending a concert put on by Tokyo Billboard Live, located inside the Tokyo Midtown center in Roppongi, and booking information was a little vague.  There also weren’t really any pictures of the venue set up on the official site, and a Google search for other blog posts with detailed info on Tokyo Billboard came up empty.  So for my future reference and maybe for someone else down the line, here’s a how-to with my take on the venue and show.

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Music: Hostess Club Weekender No. 7 Concert in Tokyo

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Last weekend I went to a two-day concert at Shin Kiba Studio Coast put on by Ynos/Hostess Club.  They get a bunch of rising or popular indies acts together to promote and perform at varying big city venues on the main island.  It’s a good chance to see acts that might not otherwise be able to perform in Japan on their own or find a new favorite jam/artist.  This is the seventh run they’ve done, and with first day tickets sold out and second day nearly sold out, it looks like their formula is working well.

Sometime around New Years bought two day advance tickets upon learning that both the Warpaint and The National were going to participate.  I discovered Warpaint a year ago and it was love at first listen.  A couple of years before, I caught The National playing in Shibuya and since then I’d been anxiously waiting for the next time they’d come back.  A chance to see two artists I love that wouldn’t normally have any reason to play together?  Alright, count me in!

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Getting Your Jingle On ♬

One of the nicer things about the holiday season is all the nostalgic music it brings with it.  Sadly my holiday favorites are never played in Japan, and unless your list consists solely of “Happy X-Mas (War is Over)”, “All I Want for Christmas is You”, and “Last Christmas”, there’s a good chance you’ll be out of luck as well.  I’m not kidding!  Last week I went to T.G.I.Friday’s in Shibuya and they played six different versions of “Last Christmas” during the course of the meal I shared with some friends.  Overkill is an understatement!

As unfortunate as this predicament is (first world problems-wise), it’s also given me a chance to check out some of the winter songs people here usually break out with at karaoke or tune into on radio stations/TV specials this time of year.  Here’s a list of five songs I’ve added to my winter favorites that I think you might like as well. 🙂

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