70 Japanese Bands That Aren’t J-pop

At a first glance at Japanese music it would seem that the only thing you listen to in Japan is J-pop. Despite the fact that this genre is the one that dominates the top ten charts in Japan, there are Japanese bands of all kinds of genres. Here is a list of Japanese bands of other genres that are not j-pop

Japanese reggae and dub bands

This musical genre gained momentum when the Jamaican singer Bob marley He visited Japan in 1979. During his trip he planned to go to a concert by the band Flower Travellin ‘. Yet it had disappeared. However, he got to know a drummer named Pecker with whom he achieved a collaboration between Japanese and Jamaican artists.

Among the most famous singers of this genre is Crush who by the way has made hours of recording on Japanese pronunciation in Japanese Lingual Lift. When he’s not recording pronunciation exercises, he can be found recording songs, like this one:

A famous band of the genre dub is Dry & Heavy. This band was formed in 1991 and since then it has had great popularity. It has appeared at numerous rock and reggae festivals in Japan, and has even appeared at festivals in Europe.

Other bands that I recommend from these genres are:

  • Papa U-Gee
  • YoYo-C
  • Jagatara


Enka It is a style of music similar to a ballad, with very sentimental lyrics and the closest thing to traditional Japanese music. Just as France had the chansons and the United States blues, in Japan this genre predominated during the First World War.

Of the most famous artists of the genre enka this Shizuko kasagi, whose most famous song is kaimono boogie (買 い 物 ブ ギ), the “shopping boogie”, which talks about the chores of a housewife when she has to prepare a meal.

Another famous singer is Meiko kaji, also known for being an actress and playing the roles of outlaw women. Meiko Kaji caught the attention of Western audiences when two of her songs appeared in the Quentin Tarantino, kill Bill.


Other artists within the genre are:

  • Hachiro Kasuga
  • Michiya Mihashi
  • Keiko Fuji
  • Hideo murata


Japanese ska appeared in the 1980s and is what is known as the “third wave of ska.” This combines the traditional sound of Jamaican Club with metal, punk, folk, funk and country. Interest in this genre declined in the 1990s, but there are still some Japanese bands around.

There are those who associate the dance style of ska with that of the festivals of bon odori (盆 踊 り) or to the rhythm of Okinawan music.

Formed in 1985, Tokyo Paradise Orchestra is the best known ska band. Despite their decline in popularity within the genre, they continue to release new albums and tour regularly.

Another band that was formed in 1985 and is also from ska is Ska Flames. He also continues to play today.

Another ska band is Cool Wise Men

Hip hop

Believe it or not, Japan has hip hop bands. Quoting this article on the hip hop in japan, “The most difficult thing for Americans and Japanese to understand is the difficulty when trying to translate the rhythm of English into a restrictive language, where all sentences end in verb.” Still, the Japanese have managed and succeeded in this genre.

One of the first hits in Japanese within the genre was Rip slyme.

Another important Japanese musician in many respects is Dj wall. His style is the closest to East Coast American.

One of the oldest Japanese hip hop bands is Rhymester. It was formed in 1989 and continues to release albums to this day. As time goes by they have become more commercial. However, they continue to be one of the most important bands of this genre in Japan.

Other Japanese hip hop bands are:

  • Kick the Can Crew
  • Shing02
  • Scha dara parr
  • Takagi kan
  • Nujabes

Rockabilly, surf and garage

Rockabilly is not a genre that one would associate with Japan, but it has a strong presence in the country, including a subculture. This genre began to become popular in Japan after the tour of Stray cats in 1980 on a tour of just two weeks.

This video of the Swedish band Peter, Bjorn and John illustrates the subculture around the rockabilly genre in Japan.

A band that may be familiar to you by Kill bill and by Fast and Furious, Tokyo Challenge, is The 5. 6. 7. 8’s. In the first movie, the band even appears in one of the scenes. A female trio, this band has been playing surf and rockabilly since the 1980s. It is still popular in the world.

Finally, the band Guitar Wolf is representative of the gender trash. For those who like heavy genres. Also, his music appears in the movie Wild zero:

In the next article I’ll talk about other genres, like electronic music, metal, jazz, classical music and video game music.

Second installment of 70 music bands that are not j-pop. In the previous article I talked about reggae, dub, enka, ska, hip hop, rockabilly, surf and garage. Now I will mention Japanese bands from electronic music, metal, jazz and classical music.

Japanese electronic music bands

Japan contributed to the development of electronic music during the 20th century, not only musically, but also technologically. Currently Japan is still one of the largest stages of this genre in the world.

One of the most representative bands of this genre in the world is Yellow magic Orchestra. Formed in 1977, this band contributed to the development of the synthpop, ambient house, electronica, electro, j-pop, house, techno and hip hop.

Aural Vampire is a duo of darkwave formed by Exo-chika and Raveman. If you like genres like him gothic synthpop, this band is for you:

Other Japanese bands of the genre:

  • Fantastic Plastic Machine
  • Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Fragrance
  • Denki groove
  • I’ve Sound
  • Pizzicato Five


Metal in Japan is currently not as present as in the past, being displaced by other genres such as punk or rock. However there are still Japanese bands that continue to perform, and the genre visual kei it’s definitely a different experience than metal from the west.

Dir En Gray is a band founded in 1997, and one of the most successful of the genre in Japan. Over time they have changed their image and style, so they have music for all tastes.

Another band that is of the progressive genre is Gonin-ish. It is a band that has had its relative success and is still active.

Other bands of the genre:

  • Onmyo-Za
  • Head Phones President
  • Gonin-ish
  • Seikima-II
  • Sex Machineguns


The jazz genre arrived in Japan during the period of the American intervention. Jazz players like Miles Davis or Ray Charles they were successful playing concerts in Japan. Since then, the genre has developed, leading to bands like The Seatbelts.

This band was created with the aim of recording the soundtrack of the anime series Cowboy Bebop. They came up with the name of the band because they said performers had to wear seat belts to perform in sessions.

Another band that falls between the genre of jazz and electronic music is Jazztronik. His music combines jazz and house and it is one of the most original Japanese bands of both genres.

Other bands:

  • Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra
  • Masabumi Kikuchi Trio

Classical music

Although classical music reached Japan in the late 18th century, it quickly managed to get to the forefront of the genre. Today it is one of the most important markets for Western classical music, but it also has a place for local composers.

The first composer I’m going to talk about is Toru takemitsu. He was a self-taught musician, writer of essays on aesthetics and music theory. In his music he combines elements of Eastern and Western philosophy. He composed 700 works of music and composed for more than 90 films, including Woman in the dunes Y Ran by Akira Kurosawa when we have the information.

Another lesser-known composer, but his music is still beautiful, is that of Komei Abe. Abe was heavily influenced by his teacher Klaus Pringsheim, a student of Gustav Mahler. It falls within the neoclassical genre of music.

Other composers of classical japanese music They are:

  • Saburo moroi
  • Yasushi Akutagawa
  • Rentaro Taki