About This Festival
Set amidst a pristine mountain forest in one of Japan’s biggest ski resorts, rock out to the sounds of headline international bands and the best of the Japanese music scene. The Fuji Rock Festival is an annual music festival held at the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. The three-day event, organized by Smash Japan, is the largest outdoor music event in the country with 100,000-150,000 festival goers in attendance. The crowd is mostly made up of carefree and respectful Japanese festivalgoers, although there is now a stronger international showing.
Touted as Japan's first outdoor rock festival, the initial event was held in 1997 at the Tenjinyama Ski Resort near Mount Fuji. Promoted as a two-day event, a typhoon struck on the first day. The decision was made to cancel the event on day two over safety concerns when some patrons suffered hypothermia. While there were no serious injuries, the organizers were criticized for being poorly prepared for bad weather.
The following year the festival was relocated to Tokyo's waterfront. In a twist of fate, the event was held in the searing mid-summer heat so it was decided to move it back to a cooler mountain climate. In 1999, the festival found its home at the Naeba Ski Resort, however the festival retains its original name.
There are several stages scattered throughout the venue. The Green Stage, with a capacity of 40,000+ is the main outdoor stage and hosts a majority of the headline bands. Equipped with large screens, you will get a good view from all positions. With a capacity of 5,000, the Red Marquee is Fuji Rock's only indoor stage. This stage comes alive at night, with dance acts and DJs from around the world, playing until dawn. Other stages include the White Stage, Orange Court, and Field of Heaven.
Looking for a little more interaction? At the Stoned Circle (how about that name?) they have drumming lessons. Facilitators help willing participants to learn regardless of their age, experience, or musical skills.
Nature in Abundance
With the help of locals and volunteers, a forest boardwalk trail was constructed in 2002. Dotted with hammock sites and quirky sideshows, the trail takes you back and forth between the main stages. The boardwalk makes it possible for wheelchair users to enjoy a stroll through the woods. Be sure to explore the more secluded areas of the festival; you may come across an impromptu gig by a great Japanese band tucked away in the forest and there’s a natural hot spring spa where you can relieve your dance weary limbs.
One of the main attractions at the festival is the Dragondola cable-car (the longest gondola lift in the world), which carries festival attendees 5kms (3 mi) up to the top of the mountain overlooking the entire site.
If you're feeling famished and want a tasty dish to give you a bit of pep, make your way to Oasis and tuck into an array of cuisines from around the world. From African to Hawaiian and of course local Japanese delights, you will be tempted by aromas of noodles, curries and tempura washed down with a sake (rice wine) for good measure.
Families at Fuji Rock will enjoy the playground and moms can take advantage of the Nursing Space. Children can also play to their hearts' content at Kidsland, set outdoors.
The Cleanest Festival in the World
The Japanese take incredible pride in their work, no matter the task. The festival's stated aim is to be "The cleanest festival in the world" and an enormous effort is put into recycling. The staff and security are friendly and helpful—heck, even the toilets are pleasant, with toilet rolls made from recycled paper cups discarded the previous year. Rubbish bags you receive at the entrance gate are made from recycled plastic bottles, also from last year's festival. Booths set up by non-governmental organizations that encourage audience members to see and think about social issues. Electricity is produced from biodiesel and solar power to reduce carbon emissions.
A temporary campsite gets erected on a nearby golf course, complete with toilets, showers and food stalls. At a cost of 3,000 Yen for the entire weekend, this is a popular choice and the camp swells with upwards of 19,000 campers. Complete with toilets, showers and food stalls, you are best to arrive early as the ground is rather sloped and flat spots are taken quickly. Onsite camping means that you avoid having to bus in each day from outlying resorts and chalets, resulting in more time for partying.