- April 22, 2019 ● Food
As a vegetarian of 25-years (12 of those in Japan), I have had plenty of experience of going hungry when going out for dinner, or just settling for salad and french fries at a restaurant while everyone else gorges themselves. My most memorable experience (and memories are often the things we wish to forget) is of arranging a vegetarian option at a company dinner only for the food to end up at the wrong end of the table and thus snorted down by the overstuffed coworkers there. There’s nothing like having to hand over ¥5000 for a dinner you didn’t get to enjoy to put you off socializing. If I sound bitter it’s probably because just because I’m still “hangry”.
Every year people contact me about what they can eat at Fuji Rock as vegetarians and thus I make a concerted effort to scout out meat-free options during the festival weekend. I had been hoping there might be more and better choices as the years move on, but while there has been a small improvement, I still overhear a fair few hungry people staring at food stalls trying to figure out if something has meat or fish in before moving on to stare at something else they can’t eat. And when you do find something to eat… well…
My biggest disappointment was in the Oasis area last year. After hungrily queuing for what felt like an interminable ten minutes for a falafel sandwich I was handed something in half a pita bread that may or may not once have been a falafel but was now just a mangled suggestion of its former self sprinkled over some cabbage. Sadly, over my tenure in Japan, I have come to view shredded cabbage as less of a vegetable and more of a bland piss-take. You can thus imagine my disappointment to find that 90% of the sandwich comprised this cretaceous chiffonade masquerading as nutrition. I am not ashamed to say that I was thoroughly British about the situation and instead of complaining went to the chip shop instead. But that was just my one bad experience and I’m sure there were plenty more customers who were happy with their grub.
Though it’s always difficult to predict what’s going to be available there are some regular vendors at Fuji Rock to keep you fed. Curry and pizza are probably able to sate most appetites (though if you’re vegan, good luck with that), and are the best way to keep yourself reliably fed. 2018’s new addition of a bakery at the Oasis food court had me salivating at the mention of melted butter pretzels, but also impressed with it’s vegan “burger” option: grilled slices of aubergine inside a bun with a basil sauce and a vegan cheese that was more tangy soy mayo than cheese, though tasty enough. Field of Heaven’s offerings consist of a jumbo fried tofu slab topped with avocado, cheese and tomato: a Japanese twist on avocado toast and good for those avoiding carbs. Meanwhile, the veggie tacos nearby offer a fluffy casing with a portion of beans and salsa. And despite the half-hour wait, the pizza up at Field of Heaven is worth hanging around for.
Festival catering by nature has challenges, most particularly that many vendors rely on frozen items, which means fresh fruit and veggies are not in plentiful supply. Practicalities coupled with a food culture that has trouble recognizing that bacon is a meat product means that the concept of vegetarianism is still sometimes met with a dog-like head tilt of incomprehension (though interestingly veganism seems to be much easier to process – less of a grey area?). Overall in Japan, there have been huge improvements in what’s available to non-meat eaters over the past decade. Let’s hope the festivals catch up.
Vegetarian Survival Tips for Fujirockers
1) Fill up at breakfast and then snack on nuts, seeds, dried fruit and protein bars until dinner. Make sure you come well-stocked.
2) Convenience stores outside of the festival should have something to eat – onigiri, yoghurt, fruit, etc. It might be worth taking a trip into town in the morning to see what you can scavenge.
3) Keep an eye on the Fes Gohan page once it’s available and prep by taking a look at the vendor listing before you go.
4) Plan ahead and be prepared to eat when the opportunity arises rather than when your stomach dictates.
5) Don’t assume that just because something looks vegetarian that it is. Always check for bacon.
Regular Veggie-Friendly Vendors
Mumbai – Oasis – Vegetable Curry Set (¥1000)
Pizzeria Pittore – Pizza (¥1000-¥2000)
1066 (Blue Galaxy Area) – Chips (¥700ish)
Field of Heaven
SWNKA SHANKA – Vegetable Tacos (¥700)
東山食堂 – Jumbo Fried Tofu with Avocado and Cheese (¥700)
Sakuragumi – Pizza (¥1500ish)
Photos: Fujirock Express 2016 and 2017
- April 19, 2019 ● Essentials
While obviously most of the action at Fujirock goes down within the festival gates, or just outside them, there are a few amenities that the usually sleepy Naeba town can offer during your festival experience. Home to a large selection of traditional inns, hotels, and souvineer shops, this little town is worth a stroll down the main drag at the least. We have covered these amenities in previous years but here is a bit of updated information on two major local facilities within reach of the festival.
If you find yourself in need of the following; Avoiding the long lines at the campground showers in favor of a much more relaxing dip in a hot spring, or some basic supplies or snacks which you may have left at home, Naeba town has you covered.
Having been both a music journalist and a musician myself since my high school days in the 90’s, my journey through this industry has been epic and winding. My first festival, as a musician, was the Boom ’n’ Blast in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A now-defunct teen band competition in my hometown’s central park, with a stage and a sound system worthy of household names, it made me feel like I had already reached the big leagues. However, they were still decades away. My first international festivals included Zandari Festa in Seoul, which I attended as an artist, and Music Matters in Singapore which I covered as a music journalist; the former operating on a mission statement similar to that of the original SXSW festivals (with an eye on showcasing the best in independent talent) and the latter hosting headliners like Pentatonix; the hot topics of the moment.
Imagine bypassing railway stations and boarding your very own private vehicle for Fuji Rock. Enjoy the comfort of cup holders, electric outlets, air-con, and bunk beds. Keep your beverages chilled and your rucksack tucked away. Best of all, when it rains, you will be 100% watertight.
As for the amenity that many ask about, “only use it in an emergency” is what the rental lot attendant instructed before we headed off down the highway.
- February 8, 2019 ● From Fujirockers.org
If you’re already thinking about heading to this year’s Fuji Rock Festival (July 26th-28th 2019), you may have noticed that ticketing information has been announced. The official site now has ticketing information up in multiple languages to make it easier on people coming from overseas. However, at this moment, links to apply for the early bird ticket lottery have not been posted. READ MORE
The first line-up announcement for Fuji Rock 2019 is out and brings with it a little something for everyone this year.
Last seen in Naeba back in 2011, The Chemical Brothers make their return to the headline slot, promoting their April release No Geography, No Geography.
Celebrating 40 years of music since thier first album Three Imaginary Boys, The Cure will also be making a return. Whether or not they will repeat thier epic 3-hour, 36-song performance from 2013 remains to be seen.
Enigmatic popstar SIA completes the first of the major headliners. Reaching wider international acclaim with her 2014 album 1000 Forms of Fear, SIA has most recently work a part of LSD, a supergroup with Diplo and Labrinth. The Australian singer-songwriter makes her Fuji Rock debut (along with dancer Maddie) this year.
Other notable additions to the large line-up include Janelle Monae and Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. Singer, songwriter and actress Janelle Monae released her Dirty Computer album in 2018, with single “Make Me Feel” most clearly nodding to the influence of Prince working on the album with her before his death. Meanwhile, Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes promises stunning visuals alongside glitchy and atmospheric music from this 2014 release (and perhaps a few more recent additions?).
Here’s the full first line-up.
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, THE CURE, SIA
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, JAMES BLAKE, JASON MRAZ, MARTIN GARRIX
JANELLE MONAE ALVVAYS, AMERICAN FOOTBALL, ANNE-MARIE, BANDA BASSOTTI, CAKE, CALPURNIA, CHON, DANIEL CAESAR, GARY CLARK JR., GEORGE PORTER JR & FRIENDS, INTERACTIVO, , KAYTRANADA, KHRUANGBIN, KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD, THE LUMINEERS, MATADOR! SOUL SOUNDS, MITSKI, NICOLA CRUZ, RED HOT CHILLI PIPERS, SHAME, STELLA DONNELLY, TORO Y MOI, UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA, THE WATERBOYS, YAEJI
Tickets go on sale today. Check out FAQs for how to get yours!
Photo: Julen Esteban-Pretel
While the early morning mist and clouds prevented those who were ambitious enough to wake up at the crack of dawn from being able to see the sunrise, by the time most folks were rolling out of their sleeping bags, the sky was blue the mercury was rising. Asagiri Jam’s second day would show just how much fun the festival can be when Mother Nature plays along.
Feeling like a scaled down, chilled out and grown-up cousin of Fuji Rock, Asagiri Jam has been going strong since 2001. This perennially sold out, 10,000-person strong yet intimate party gives you plenty of time to sit back, relax, and really enjoy some music and some nature. And this year was no exception, with legends like Yo La Tengo, Clammbon and Boredoms shoulder to shoulder with artists like Gogo Penguin, Snail Mail and John Butler Trio. All this in an idyllic setting with an iconic view of Mt Fuji. What more could you ask for?
To say that recent temperatures have been unseasonably high in Japan is a bit of an understatement. For a country with typically hot and humid summers, this year’s has been especially brutal. But don’t let that get in the way of having a great time at Fuji Rock! With the big event starting in mere moments, here are some little tips to beat the heat while you rock the fest.