What Makes The Japanese Music Scene So Special?
From a love of different flavour Kit Kats right through to a museum dedicated to their version of a Pot Noodle, Japan has a really cosmopolitan culture. As well as their love of varied foods, they have a real love of technology and are often keen to keep up with the latest technological offerings. This can mean anything from being served by robots in some restaurants to serving yourself from street vending machines! They also really love playing online games, with websites such as casimaru.com being a popular place for online gamers. On top of that, they have a fun and vibrant music scene, unique from the rest of the world and one that doesn't seem to be slowing down in popularity anytime soon – but what makes the Japanese music scene so special?
Live music venues are an important part of Japan's vibrant urban nightlife (photo: downtown Osaka at night).
The Sale of CDs is Still Massively Popular
Throughout much of the modern world, music has become all about instant downloads and online streaming. Even movies now tend to be streamed rather than watched on an actual DVD that you own. However, this trend has not really carried through to Japan, where the sale of CD's is still popular. This is an interesting phenomenon when you consider how advanced cities like Tokyo are with much of their technology, but right up until 2017 music shops made up around 85% of all music sales. When you also consider that it is illegal to sell a CD for less than $25, there is some definite money to be made within the music industry.
They Love Investing in Sound Systems
Being able to listen to music of high quality is important to the people of Japan, whether this is at home or experiencing music at live events. Tokyo has a massively popular music scene with all sorts of clubs (or "live houses"), cafes and bars located within close vicinity of each other – all of which offer live music and various music events. Lots of these will have invested big money into making sure their music systems are up to scratch, especially VENT which is a world-famous nightclub that famously had its own sound system designed for the club.
They Love Mixing Things Up
Japan has some really famous songs – Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen by Pikotaro in 2016 being one of the more recent popular additions. What they also really like to do is combine music genres to make something completely unique and fun. Idol Metal is one that has proved massively popular over recent years – a combination of cheesy pop music and thrash metal. It might sound like a strange combination but bands such as BabyMetal have proved massively popular, completing international tours showcasing their own version of Idol Metal.
They Immerse Themselves in the Music
It's been a long time since much of the world has had popular record stores, but Japan remains the exception. With stores such as Tower Records still going strong, not only are CD sales still thriving but everything else around music is, too. Japan is a culture not afraid to dress up and have fun – so things like music memorabilia and accessories are still really popular. People love to dress up in their favourite band t-shirts and attend things like karaoke events dedicated to their favourite music artists. You'll even find snacks, home accessories and an abundance of fashion items dedicated to music stars that are popular in Japan.
The Japanese culture might be different from the rest of the world, but it's a culture that embraces fun and entertainment. The music scene in Japan is like no other, and this shows no signs of changing any time soon.