Live Music in Japan

Recently, I’ve realized how much I truly miss going to see live music. My best friend always tells me about the amazing people she sees live, and I can’t help but get a little bit jealous. It used to be so easy to spend the night lost in the music of a band you love, but here…not so much. I grew up near Houston, a fairly large city, and went to school in Austin, the “live music capital of the world.” Austin is home to tons of live houses, Blues on the Green, ACL, and South by Southwest. Japan has big music festivals too, I just live no where near them. In Japan, I live in the country and most of the live music I see is in tiny bars or outdoors on tiny stages. Needless to say, my experience with live music in Japan is not really comparable to that of America, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been interesting!

I have only been to two stadium shows in Japan, and they were both for Korean artists (Big Bang and G Dragon). At big-name stadium shows, it’s nearly impossible to take pictures; you will be thrown out if someone sees you with a camera or phone. And people are really quiet. People cry and scream at pop shows in America. I’ve seen the videos. In Japan, people act very polite. Even people in the front rows just sway and sing in unison. It’s actually very strange. I’ve seen videos of huge rock shows in Japan, though. At least they crowd surf.

I haven’t seen any smaller venue professional shows yet. In America, I went to a lot of indie shows, and they were always so much fun. The bars and venues have room for people to stand in front of the stage and dance or sing at the artists or whatever. There’d probably be somewhere to sit near the bar or on a patio, but at shows I’ve been to, people stand most of the time. Or mosh or two-step or something. In Japan, at every music show I’ve been to, there are tables and chairs. People sit quietly and watch. They clap politely afterward. Sure, I haven’t been to see an artist I’m really into with a dedicated following besides Big Bang, but even at small shows in America, even at high school Battle of the Band’s, people get into it. Here, it seems, that’s left to the old people. That being said, I have had a lot of fun here. Even in this rural area, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to see live music…good live music. Kanoya, the city near my town, has a few monthly music events, my favorite of which being Takibi Live (takibi means bonfire). Professional and local musicians perform once a month at a riverside stage surrounded by fire. Best of all, it’s free.  Going to friends’ shows in America was always enjoyable, and that hasn’t changed. I rather enjoy seeing unknown bands and their relaxed jam sessions. I like hanging out with friends and not having to pay to see decent music all the time.  It makes this little part of the world comfortable and more like home.

Anyway, last weekend some friends of mine performed at Takibi Live and another monthly live held in a hall attached to an onsen. We had to wear slippers inside, but it was enjoyable! I took some videos! As you can see, the venue is fairly small, and no one’s really moving. That may just be because it’s so small though. Enjoy!




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