Japan has always been ahead of the curve, with technology, animation, and fashion. Once you start to get into the music side of things, its nothing short of an abundance of genres and artists to filter through. Most people have heard of BABYMETAL, AKB48, Hikaru Utada, and X Japan, but we are here give you something a little different that is pushing through the underground of Japanese sound right now.
( Grindcore, Power Violence )
Hailing from Tokyo, theres nothing like hardcore screamo vocals, thunderous drums, and a kawaii chic shredding up on guitars, perfect. There last album titled "Wounds" dropped in 2016.
( Trap, Hip-Hop producer )
The young producer extraordinaire has been consistently producing for artist in the area from trap to hip-hop. He’s definitely bringing in dope production from Wakayama, working with both Japanese and American artist. Check out production behind Young Tofu Boy on Tofu 2nd Ep, Young Zetton "Guerrilla", and most of Savage Lion's material.
Photo by Aki Ikejiri
( Electronic, Chiptune, Bit-pop )
You can definitely say that the cherry voiced singer TORIENA is the queen of chiptune, hands down. A lovely and soothing voice over the madeness of chaotic video game music is as cool as it gets. Some good singles and projects to listen to are "Not Idol", "DIet Coke", "Taxi Driver", and projects Pop Nega Pop, and Melancozmo.
The song "Notice" which TORIENA is featured on by House/Electronic producer Moe Shop is a straight up banger as well. Her tunes always give off good vibes and will get you in the mood to dance.
( Rock & Roll )
PDD for short, is a lively and energetic rock & roll outfit from Tokyo that is constantly touring the states. They might be playing closer than you think in a city near you. Songs you should check for "Cosmic Candy", "Inside is Out", and "Get it On". If you can catch them live it will be well worth it.
( Noise, Electronic )
Electro percussion duo IMA consist of sound artist Amma Ateria from Honk Kong and Nava Dunkelman from Japan. The duo composes passionate experimental soundscapes that could fit in many different films to make a pretty cool score. Check out their latest project The Flowers Die In Burning Fire" and their live performance called "Land and Sea" on their soundcloud from 2018.
( Post-Hardcore )
The screamo band has been around since 1992, and has been steady dropping material from then til now. From their first ep Breathing and Dying in this Place (1996) to The Fallen Crimson (2020) showing they are here to stay. With so much good material its crazy that this impressive six-piece hardcore outfit aren’t bigger than they are. Envy has shown so much growth in the past decade its insane . Every track from The Fallen Crimson is a banger. From the punch you in the face "Statement of Freedom" to the beautiful melodies and vocals of "Swaying leaves and scattering breath" to the poetic last track "A Step in the morning glow".
( Techno, Dance, Electronic )
Wata has created his own lane in the vast world of techno and electronic music. With such great production and djing, his music glows with vibrant energy giving nothing but head nodding beats and feels. Check out his projects Question and Answer and also Kioku.
( Math rock )
Tricot is an insanely excellent math rock band out of Kyoto. Intricate and progressive style guitars with graceful and exquisite vocals by lead singer and guitarist Ikumi "Ikkyu" Nakajima who also founded the band in 2010. They’ve toured quite a bit as well, with US bands Chon, Polyphia, and TTNG. Tricot has had great success and they’re still rising. Make sure you check out songs "Potage","Pool", and albums The, And, and 3.
( Hip-Hop )
Coma Chi brings that underground backpack rap with consciousness and lyrical dexterity. On top of being able to spit bars and the ability to story tell, she can sing as well and does it with easy. Her production is on point with funky bass lines, dancing keys, and significant live instrumentation. Projects you should look for are Jomon Green and DayBefore Blue. Also her latest single "The Dawn of Reiwa" is a breath of fresh air in today’s new world of hip-hop.
( Alternative Rock )
Bimbeers brings such a clean sound and catchy songwriting with their easygoing sound. With these four friends from Tokyo, they mesh so well together. Lead singer and guitarist Namahaage has a very distinctive voice from other singers in the J-rock arena. They bring a 70's California beach vibe, crossed with lounging garage rock. Make sure to check out songs, "Bus Stop", "The Solution", and "Life".
11. Otoboke Beaver
( Punk Rock )
Representing Kyoto, comes the uptempo punk rock party starters! Okotobe Beaver is always tour ready, hitting as many cities and countries possible every year. This is most certainly a band you have to see live. If you can’t make it out, there music is on all streaming platforms. Listen to "Dirty old far is waiting for my reaction", "I am not Maternal", and projects Okoshiyasu!! (2016) and ITEKOMA HITS (2019).