I was lucky to attend many fantastic music festivals in Japan. With some crazy JETs, I flew to Miyako in June 2014 for the famous “Miyako Island Rock Festival”. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the festival featured an impressive line-up of rock bands that included two popular Okinawan bands, かりゆし58 and Mongol800, and various mainland bands like 10-Feet, Ketsumeishi (ケツメイシ) and Shōnan no Kaze (湘南乃風). Thanks to the kind hospitality of the Miyako JETs and company of wonderful JETs/JTEs, I successfully ticked off my “JET-Bucket List’s Item #3”.
I also attended the “Peaceful Love Rock Festival” in July 2014. Even though it was a smaller festival compared to the “Miyako Island Rock Festival”, it showcased bands like かりゆし58, HY and Def Tech.
I ended my summer music festival tour of 2014 with one of the biggest music festivals in Japan: Summer Sonic. Mayday was the main reason why I flew to Osaka for the festival. Mayday performed a short act in the late morning. As not many Japanese people know much about Mayday, the crowd was small and I could get really close to the stage. It rained during the performance. Instead of dampening the atmosphere, the rain enhanced the mood especially when Ashin sang “拥抱”. For the rest of the day, I watched amazing performances by Ellie Goulding (so pretty), the Hiatus (so my love affair with Takeshi Hosomi started here), Avril Lavigne (so out of tune) and Queen and Adam Lambert (so epic – that’s what rock is all about)! By the end of the day, we were so soaked but inspired by great music!
Since I have accumulated some valuable experiences by recently attending some summer music festivals in Japan (and with my “Mayday” World Tour accolades), I hope to “pay it forward” and offer some useful tips to fellow music-lovers who are interested in music festivals.
Survival Guide to Summer Music Festivals (Okinawan Style)
Most importantly, please keep your tickets in a safe place and remember to bring them with you to the festival. It is not a good idea to lose them or accidentally throw them into your trash bin accidentally just before the festival.
Sunblock is not optional. It is essential to ensure basic survival. One puny bottle of sunblock with inferior SPF content will endanger your life. Prepare truckloads of powerful sunblock with at least SPF 50+ if you do not want to end up like this sunburnt victim (Evidence: The super sunburnt arm in the middle of this picture).
Basic types of headwear like caps or hats are essential to shield your fragile face from the brutal attacks by Mr. Sun. Even unfashionable hats like these will save your life.
In any of Japan’s Music Festivals, the trusty towel serves multiple purposes. Firstly, you may want to cover your entire face with the towel if you do not want to be disfigured by Mr Sun.
Secondly, Japanese fans love to swing their towels violently during the concert. It seems that they enjoy showering other concertgoers with lint rather than waving the usual “concert-staple” light sticks.
It is crucial to be equipped with footwear that is comfortable and cool. I stick to my “easy to kick off” Havaianas because my toes can breathe and listen to the music. However, if you foresee running around to chase your idols, or being surrounded by violent fans, it may be more advisable to put on covered footwear.
6. Extra garments
If the festival is at or near the beach, you should have your swimwear ready, or just wear nice undergarments. Then you will be empowered to strip and cool off in any available water bodies like these folks.
It is also nice to have an extra shirt so you can change out of your smelly, perspiration-drenched clothes at the end of the festival.
7. Wet wipes
You will be so smelly, sticky, and just plain gross at the end of the festival. A touch of wet wipe on your skin will be pure magic.
For most festivals, you are not allowed to bring food and drinks into the venue. However, the security usually does not conduct thorough bag checks due to the huge crowds. Thus, you can always smuggle whatever you desire if you pack your bag strategically. Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day – especially with iced cold beer and you can be as “cool” as these macho men.
If you wish to bring back beautiful memories of the festival, you should collect photographic evidence with a reliable camera with superior zoom and night shoot functions. A selfie stick will be useful if you like to capture independent and weird angle shots!
Finally, please check the festival’s schedule before you embark on your adventure. As it is common for many different artists to be playing throughout the day, plan wisely and decide which performances you want to watch. The big bands will normally be the last few acts of the day. Unless your favourite band is playing early in the afternoon, it is suicidal to go to the festival too early when Mr. Sun reigns supremacy.
So hope you are ready for your summer music festivals! Pray for good weather! If not you may have to bring umbrella/raincoat instead of sunblock!
An earlier version of this article was published at Ryukyu Star.