• Festival Fashion: How to Dress for Fuji Rock

    Hey there, Nina here reporting on Fuji Rock’s fashion trends.

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    Music festivals in other parts of the world often zoom focus on the fashion portion of the experience; so much so that some of the most well-known fast fashion brands have their own line of clothing catered for certain music festivals. However, things are done a bit differently at the largest and most well-known festival here in Japan.

    At Fuji Rock Festival, music comes first and fashion comes second…or even third or fourth if you consider the high priority the festival’s gourmet and non-music entertainment hold for people’s experiences. Nonetheless, there is still a certain type of festival fashion that exists at FRF. I personally like to call it “Camper Chic”. It’s a mixture of the unique Japanese outdoor fashion which incorporates colorful accessories and practical essentials. Here is a list of fashion items you won’t want to leave at home before departing for FRF:

    Bucket Hat 

    Bucket hats have made a comeback in recent years, but it’s always been in fashion at this festival. It’s perfect for its multiple uses from blocking out the sun to keeping the rain out of your eyes. And remember, the more colorful or unique it is, it makes it easier for your friends to find you in any crowd.


    What can’t you use a bandana for? It’s the ultimate outdoor fashion item that can be used as a makeshift mask, headband, scarf, cooling towel, or even a picnic sheet to sit on. It can add a touch of color or funky accessory to any look that can be transformed into anything you wish to use it as later on.

    Rain Boots

    You can’t survive Fuji Rock without proper footwear. While every once in a while, the festival is blessed with sunny and dry weather, it’s best to assume that the forecast will include some downpours and wet puddles. With so much ground to cover from stage to stage, be sure to not only wear rain boots, but to wear comfortable rain boots. Your happy, dry, and rested feet will thank you later!

    Hint: I wear my TEVA rain boots which are moulded to my feet and are as comfortable as Birkenstocks or hiking boots. It truly makes a difference!


    I wasn’t kidding when I said that rain will be on the forecast. Whether you grab a plastic poncho from the 100-yen store or splurge on a more durable one with a sick design, a poncho is a must-have. In fact, it’s a better option than a raincoat because it’s more breezy. And you’ll want that breeze when it’s raining with over 50% in humidity.

    Fanny Pack or Back Pack

    An easy access bag is essential for all the items you want to carry around with you. Even at its most crowded times, Fuji Rock can feel spacious because well, it’s Japan, and everyone respects each other’s space. Besides a poncho, be sure to bring layers as it can get cold at night, or the clothes could be used for change out of wet ones. Keep in mind that the festival takes place in the mountains so sunscreen and bug spray are important, too!

    2021 Bonuses


    If you happen to forget everything else, just be sure to remember this one item. A mask is a must at FRF ’21 and you won’t want to forget it. Sure, a simple disposable one works (and recommended), but if you’re going for some fun fashion, be sure to dress it up with another layer of a funky mask design. I’ll be sporting a homemade one myself 😉

    Biker Shorts

    Where in the world did this come from? Biker shorts are totally “in” this year – from high fashion to everyday use. Its comfort status fits in with the vibe of this festival, so let’s see if any of this year’s attendees will take on the challenge to incorporate this new trend in their FRF fashion.


    Looking forward to seeing all you beautiful people out at FRF ’21!

  • The Rising Star “4s4ki” Makes her Fuji Rock Debut!

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    Having started producing her own music at an astonishingly early age (in grade five or grade six, by her recollection) 4s4ki released her first full album in 2020, and makes her Fuji Rock debut this year. I caught up with her via Zoom, to get a feel for where she is headed.

    Tiernan: At what age did you first get interested in producing music?

    4s4ki: It was in the fifth or sixth grade that I first made music by myself. When I was very young I played the Electone, but I couldn’t read sheet music, so I tried to learn songs by ear. Gradually, through that, I developed the ability to compose musical arrangements by ear. And, that’s how I started producing my own music, towards the end of elementary school.

    Tiernan: Of course, since you are Japanese – and might write most of your lyrics in Japanese – I’d like to know which Japanese artists influenced your music. However, since I am introducing you to a western audience, I’d also like to know if there were any western influences on your musical debut.

    4s4ki: I’d say I wanted to be a (music) producer from the get go, so people like Nakata Yasutaka and Porter Robinson were my greatest influences. Of course, they are primarily track makers, and they also perform in front of people.

    Tiernan: I listened to some of your earliest tracks, and some of your most recent work. And, it seems to me that when you started out, your music was more gentle, but it seems to have gotten darker and harder as you went along. Is that correct, or how do you feel about this?

    4s4ki: In the early stages, (I think) my skills were not good enough to express what I wanted to do. So, I was doing what I liked and what I could do at the time. However, over time, my skills developed – and I also liked Japanese anime songs – so, over time, those became an influence as my skills got better. And, you know, what you pointed out (about how I started off gentle and then became more agressive) is something I agree with.

    Tiernan: I am a bit of a gear nerd, and I know there are many of us around the world. So, on behalf of all people like me, I’d like to ask you about your signal chain; from your choice of instruments, and microphones, to processors, etc. In short, could you please tell us about your favorite pieces of gear, as well as your signal chains, and processors that you like to use; from your sources to your software choices?

    4s4ki: I use Logic, in terms of a DAW. I tried a few other DAW’s, but they never felt comfortable to me. I’m also a big fan of piano sounds, so I like using a MIDI piano which can get me a good piano sound. I’m not one to pay too much attention to the model names of my gear but, in terms of brands, I’m using an M-Audio keyboard with 61 keys, mostly, as well as a Blue mic. The mic was a gift, so I don’t really remember the model name. I am not much of a gear nerd. I’ll use whatever is in front of me – if it feels good – and do whatever I can with it.

    Tiernan: I hear that Björk has a similar approach….

    4s4ki: Yeah, and I hear that Grimes makes her own sounds as well, so that’s what I aspire to do.

    Tiernan: Could you please tell me some of your favorite songs that you’d like to present – particularly – to western audiences?

    4s4ki: This July (2021) I released an album called “Castle in Madness” on which you can find a track called “Obon,”; about the Japanese festival of the same name, to honor one’s departed loved ones. And, I don’t know if any western countries have this type of custom, but that is part of Japanese culture in the summertime. And, I hope that people in western countries can enjoy this sample of Japanese culture.

    Tiernan: Have you ever performed overseas and, if you have not, where are some places that you’d like to perform?

    4s4ki: In terms of performing overseas, I performed at a festival in Taiwan in 2019. And, from now on, I’d like to perform all around the world.

    Tiernan: What were your favorite performances of your career so far?

    4s4ki: On my birthday, on March 11th of this year, I had a solo show that I really liked. And, before, I didn’t really rehearse much for shows. But, for that one, I put in a lot of preparation time, so I feel that it was my best performance so far.

    Tiernan: What can fans expect from you at Fuji Rock this year? Will it be something different to what you’ve done before?

    4s4ki: I am going to use a new instrument at Fuji Rock this year, and I have a new song to perform. So, I hope that people will enjoy it. Also, like the show I did for my birthday, I put my soul into the lighting; so I hope people will enjoy that as well. I will also play piano by myself at Fuji Rock 2021, which is something that people cannot hear on my albums.

    Tiernan: I heard a rumor that – despite the fact that you released a new album in July of 2021 – that you actually have a new recording in the works. Is that true? If so, what can we expect, and when might it be coming out?

    4s4ki: I am planning to release something new by the end of this year. It’s a collaboration with another artist, but the person’s name isn’t being publicly revealed yet.

    Tiernan: Do you have a message for your potential foreign fans who might come to see you, or might want to check out your music?

    4s4ki: I’ve never been to the Fuji Rock festival before, so I find it quite amazing to be going there for the first time as an artist. And, during my set, I am going to give you the coolest, most attractive performance I can, while bringing you the best music I have. So, I hope everyone can come and watch my set. Also, for those who cannot attend the festival, please be ready for my new releases which will be coming out in the future.

    Tiernan: Thank you very much for that, and thank you very much for doing this interview, 4s4ki!

    4s4ki: Thank you very much!

    4s4ki makes her Fuji Rock debut on August 22 (Sun)  from 21:00 to 21:45  on the RED MARQUEE stage.

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    Int’l Clash Day Friday Feb 7

    84149995_707811409754256_2968242019840819200_nFriday is International Clash Day, a celebration of the life, work, music, and politics of “The Only Band That Matters“. Begun seven years ago because of a “listener request”,  Seattle’s  KEXP enlisted 110 radio stations around the world to host special broadcasts and live events ala “Radio Clash” from London to Uruguay.

    So lift your jug like Clash front-man Joe Strummer, who is pictured here outside the Fuji Rock entrance way back in the day. And here’s a fun fact, Joe Strummer’s birthday, August 21, coincides with the start of this year’s festival. Call it synchronicity or happenstance, but you gotta believe their will probably be a few covers and on-stage tributes as well as many  t-shirts and Mohawks championing The Clash’s  anti-hate, anti-racism message.


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    Best of the Fest: Sean S.


    Festival Staff

    Saturday’s deluge would’ve done in a lesser festival, but Fuji Rock staff quickly worked to ensure the safety of footpaths and major stages. Measures such as opening up a conference room in the Prince Hotel for campers was no doubt greatly appreciated for those whose tents were waterlogged. And when the sun emerged on Sunday, much of the festival was dry, a testament to ground crews and drainage work which goes on throughout the year. Smash has mastered the art of logistics, everything from providing artists outstanding equipment and stages, as well as new toilet areas for festivalgoers. Continual improvements in all areas of the festival has impressed me, and up and coming areas should be making it on your radar such as Pyramid Garden, Don’s Café, and NGO village.

    Joe’s Garage

    I’ve long championed Fuji Rock’s Joe Strummer Memorial, 3-ton European ski gondola which perched princely above the Palace of Wonder. Unfortunately, brutal snowfall in Naeba each winter tossed the gondola around like a crushed beer can. Two years ago, it was flattened into little more than a pedestal for another artwork. A sort of rescue effort was made a few months ago to cut it open and rescue valuable works inside such as handwritten, festival specific lyrics penned by Joe Strummer himself, artwork attributed to him and others, and whatever other seeds of rock and roll history could be recovered.


  • The Cure Promo Pic - Fuji Rock 2019

    The Cure is Needed Now!

    The Cure Promo Pic - Fuji Rock 2019
    On March 29th, 2019, as The Cure stood on the red carpet before their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, their lead singer – the eternally-lipsticked Robert Smith – was accosted by a brash reporter who, in classic American fashion, belted, “Are you as EXCITED as I am?!?!”. Equally true to form, and visibly wincing from her sensory assault, Mr.Smith quietly replied,”…apparently not”.

    Despite their relatively upbeat post-punk debut in 1979, The Cure quickly ascended to the ranks of royalty as  “kings of gloom”; people who made it not only acceptable to openly live through one’s depressive states; in the right circles, they even made it look “cool”. 

    As recent studies reveal that depression is on the rise worldwide, The Cure’s receipt of Rock’s highest honour not only seems fittingly timely; it also validates those who were bullied for being their fans in decades past. And, as Robert Smith and Co. prepare thirtieth anniversary concerts of their album Disintegration (arguably their darkest record) we can almost hear their throngs of fans silently chime, “We told you so”.

    Even further cementing their importance, beyond becoming an incidental champion for those who struggle with mental health issues, from The Cure’s earliest performances, Robert Smith also pioneered another modern topic; gender and sexuality. Openly displaying more femininity than the average man since The Cure’s first shows, by 1982 Mr. Smith donned lipstick for all concerts and photo shoots. Even throngs of loyal fans assumed he was bisexual. However, ever-defiant of preconceptions, and consistently breaking new ground by default, Robert Smith would clearly state in interviews that he was monogamously married to a woman he loved; his high school sweetheart, Mary Poole. Once again, decades ahead of popular discourse, he indirectly gave millions permission to be themselves in both gender and sex. 

    As the band prepares to release a brand new album this autumn – reportedly steeped in “doom and gloom” – to celebrate its fortieth anniversary, its performance at Fuji Rock flows into a twenty-three date marathon of concerts, consisting mostly of appearances at legendary festivals like Glastonbury and Austin City Limits. Some may question the relevance of these ageing pioneers, in a country where visual kei and makeup on men is already seen as passé. However, for a land still struggling with gender equality, LGBTQ rights and epidemic depression, The Cure is a prescription we all need. 

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    Fujirock Outdoor Theater

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    Each year at Fujirock, there is an outdoor theater playing a selection of films under the stars.

    The screen is placed in the Tokoro Tengoku area, near the bridge that crosses the stream leading to the White Stage.

    You can catch films shown here on both Friday and Saturday night. Set up your camp chair and enjoy your favorite film in the cool mountain air.  READ MORE

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    A Magic Carpet Ride

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    Connecting the main festival grounds below with two small but not-to-be-missed mountaintop stages is a Japanese feat of engineering.

    The Dragondola, which was built in 2001 to connect Naeba and Kagura/Mitsumata Ski Resorts during the winter season, is a 5.5 kilometer long gondola taking about 20-minutes from end-to-end. Touted as the worlds longest gondola lift line, it traverses a number of peaks and deep valleys, offering both panoramic views of the festival grounds with deep blue lakes seen in the distance, the later swooping low across cool mountain streams before continuing onto the summit.


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    Know Your Fuji Rock Stages!


    If you don’t know it already, Fuji Rock is big.  We all already know about the Green Stage, where the headliner action takes place.  But if it is your first time to the fest here is a handy little guide to some of the other stages.  Try your best to visit them all!


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    ‘Zenyasai’ Thursday Night Pre-Festivities


    For those familiar with the entire Fuji Rock experience, you don’t need to be told not to miss the pre-festival kickoff that happens on the Thursday night before the festival.

    Not only is it free and open to anyone, even without festival passes, Thursday night is your chance to get amped up for the days to come and kick off the festival in true fashion.


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    It’s Going to be a Brilliant Time

    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.