Reputed to be one of the most environmentally-friendly music festivals in the world, Fuji Rock Festival 2018 seemed to me, a Sustainability Science student, a most appropriate festival to attend. Fuji Rock is an annual long-running summer festival that takes place in the beautiful mountains of Niigata, Japan. The 2018 iteration was as much about its amazing musical line-up, which featured diverse acts such as Bob Dylan, Kendrick Lamar, and Vampire Weekend, as it was about harmony between people and nature. The etiquette prevalent throughout much of Japan on separating your trash and recycling is just as strong despite the music festival being located in the off-road mountains of the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture. Throughout the festival grounds, you can find differentiated trash containers, and constant reminders on the Fuji Rock “OSAHO” – the etiquette encouraged to preserve the sanctity of the natural environment:
This combination of music, culture, and nature made Fuji Rock Festival 2018, as the first music festival I have ever attended in Japan, perhaps one of the most beautiful (culturally and environmentally) introductions to the festival scene. Several points of note are:
There are a few kinds of accommodations offered to festival-goers and what you choose depends on your budget, your transportation mode, the time of booking, the festival experience you want, and how many people you are attending the festival with. For example, festival camping, which was what we chose, is the cheapest option at ¥3,000 per person for all nights. Other more expensive options include hotels and more premium camping sites. Given that the only option we tried was camping, I cannot speak to the quality of experience of the other accommodations. However, I strongly feel that camping amidst Niigata’s picturesque landscape is an experience like no other. There is nothing like waking up to the faint strands of Oasis’ Champagne Supernova at 5am in the morning as the last festival act ends, and sun rises over the Niigata mountains. Furthermore, there are free bathrooms and showers available to all campers, so there is no worry on that front.
For such a large event located in the mountains, accessibility was a surprising non-issue. Of course, this depends on where you start your journey from. From Tokyo however, there are a number of different options with different price points. For those willing to spend a little more, there are buses and bundled options that can take you directly from train stations like Shinjuku to the JR station (Echigo-Yuzawa) closest to the festival grounds. Cheaper options include discount tickets like the Seishun 18 Kippu, which although takes approximately 4 hours from Tokyo to JR Echigo-Yuzawa, comes up to approximately ¥2,500 per person per day, depending on how you divide the tickets. From there, there is a shuttle bus that takes you to and from the festival entrance. The shuttle bus departs at very frequent intervals, so despite the large number of people in the queue for the bus, we did not spend a long time waiting.
The weather in the mountains of Naeba Ski Resort during the summer is notoriously fickle – one moment will be bright and sunny, and the next will be rainy and gray. Due to the elevation, the temperature also differs between daytime and nighttime. The changeable weather was perhaps the most emphasized aspect of Fuji Rock we uncovered while doing research in preparation for the trip, and we were consequently well-armed with raincoats and other wet weather gear. This is especially important if you are planning on camping – tarps and a sturdy tent are necessary if you do not want wind and rain water to dampen your experience of the night! Furthermore, if you, like us, are very enthusiastic about dancing and jumping along with the music, you might want to spend some time thinking about the logistics of your wet weather gear and outfit combination. The best combination should be able to take you walking amongst the different stages, from morning till night, and in any weather condition!
After all that jumping and singing and walking about, food was the one thing we need to keep our energies up. Fuji Rock 2018 does not disappoint in that regard – not only were food stands dotted across the entire festival ground, making accessibility easy, but the variety of foods was more than sufficient. We were spoilt for choice – from the well-known Ippudo ramen to long potato fries to Thai curry.
Featured image from Author; taken at Fuji Rock Festival 2018