I HAD to go to Fuji Rock Festival last year to see my favourite band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers! The first song of theirs I heard was Scar Tissue when I was in grade 8, and I was immediately hooked. Thus began my foray into the history of the band and all their music. I challenge anyone to out-fan me.
I am, however, not much of a concert-goer. At all. I’ve been to a total of one concert in my whole life. It was, you guess it, the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Vancouver during their By The Way tour. I have no interest to see anyone else in concert.
When I was in Korea, I contemplated flying to Japan for a weekend to watch them at Summer Sonic in 2011, but it would have been too difficult and expensive. So I always told myself if they ever come to Japan while I’m here, I HAVE to see them. Well, come 2016, this was about to happen.
My husband came home from work one day and told me that he heard from a coworker that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing at Fuji Rock Festival. What? No? Really? What? Really? REALLY? What? I want to go. I need to go.
It was fitting that they played this time because they played at the very first Fuji Rock Festival in 1986, and here they were playing again 30 years later. Just put out a new album too.
It’s like the stars aligned to make this beautiful moment in history.
However, the concert site in Niigata is not so close to Nagoya. We would have to rent a car for a few days, find a place to sleep, not to mention the price of tickets. But it was an entire music festival, so we could turn it into an experience. And that’s just what we did.
Here is my guide to Fuji Rock Festival
Dates: Fuji Rock Festival is held at the end of July. In 2017, it is July 28, 29, 30 (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).
Location: It is on the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture.
Despite the name, it is is not on or anywhere near Mt. Fuji.
Ticket prices range from ¥17,000-19,000 for one day to ¥39,800-43,000 for three days. Price difference depends on how early you buy your tickets. Children under 15 are free, but I don’t recall seeing many young people. We bought one day tickets for the last day, Sunday.
We bought our tickets at Family Mart from the ticket machine. There are several ways to purchase tickets in Japan and from overseas, so check the ticket website for detailed information on buying and regulations.
Camping costs ¥3000 and official parking costs ¥3000 per day. We did neither of these.
The ski resort can be accessed by train from Tokyo, so I think it can be done as a day trip. You can also come by car, and there are three official parking lots – the ones that cost ¥3000. There are also unofficial parking lots that you can search for and reserve independently. This is what my husband and I did. It was a gravel lot, was only ¥2000, and a ten-minute walk to the site.
You can also rent a car for 48 hours from Nagoya. This is what we did, and I drove the whole six/seven hours there, stopping at Matsumoto Castle on the way for some bonus sightseeing. It was for real a lot of fun to drive again.
We didn’t camp though, so we needed to find a place to sleep for Saturday and Sunday night. We pulled into a highway rest area and slept in the car. It was free. The first night was not terribly uncomfortable, but we only slept for a few hours the second night. We had to get the car back by 10 AM Monday morning. My husband drove this time.
If costs are not a concern, I recommend finding a hotel rather than sleep in the car at a highway rest area.
Since Fuji Rock Festival is a three-day event, there is a camp site.
Remember though, it is at a ski resort, so that means the camp ground is basically the side of a mountain. There are not many flat areas, so you will have to set up camp on an incline. I can’t say much else about camping because we didn’t do this. But I there are showers and honey buckets.
What to bring
This depends how many days you are going to stay and whether you are camping. There are a lot of food stalls, so you can easily buy all your meals. But I’m sure you can make your meals if you camp and bring everything you need. There is water available and drink vending machines.
If you burn easily, like me, bring sunscreen and a hat. I normally don’t wear hats, but I bought one for this trip. I just wore regular clothes that I would wear in summer in Japan. We prepared for rain, but luckily there were no downpours. Oh, umbrellas are NOT allowed because they are an obstruction for other viewers.
Also wear comfortable shoes because the venue is huge, and you will walk a lot. You will probably want to bring folding chairs and some sort of blanket to sit on. We didn’t bring these, so we bought a couple chairs from a store in town.
I contemplated wearing my Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt that I already had, but decided against it. When I got there, I wished I had it, so I ended up buying two more. You can buy shirt of other things for the bands that are playing.
Things I personally recommend bringing:
- rain poncho
- folding/camping chair – with cup holder is best
- picnic mat/blanket
- starter water bottle and snacks
- cash for food, water, souvenirs, etc.
- long sleeve shirt for nighttime – it’s in the mountains, so can get cold
- toothbrushing things
- small towel
- comfortable shoes
- extra socks – it can get dusty
There are three main stages, the Green Stage, the White Stage, and the Red Marquee. The Green Stage is the main stage. This is where the Red Hot Chili Peppers played. There are also a few other smaller stages and display centres, even a kids zone.
We arrived first thing in the morning, and there were already people waiting at the front of the stage. As much as I love the band, I wasn’t about to wait in front of the stage for 12 hours just so I could be close. Did these people out-fan me? There were lots of other things to explore.
It’s Japan, so things are very organized and orderly. Even when the crowds are so huge and people are getting excited (and drunk) I still found most people to be generally polite.
There are trash and recycle bins, so please respect the environment. There were also volunteers walking around collecting trash, which I thought was nice. You should expect to wait in line for a toilet. They move decently quickly though.
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the main event, the whole reason I went to Fuji Rock Festival, the Red Hot Chili Peppers:
My husband and I did this trip from Nagoya in 48 hours.
We picked up a rental car on Saturday morning, slept overnight on the highway, arrived at the venue on Sunday morning, festival-ed, left Sunday night, slept a few hours at another highway rest stop, and made it back to Nagoya around 10 AM Monday morning.
With the cost of tickets, car rental, gas, highway fees, food and drinks, and new clothes, it was an expensive weekend. It costs around $1000 CAD for the two of us. Just so I see the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Some might not agree with me, but I think it was a weekend and money well-spent. Besides seeing my favourite band, we had a Japanese road trip, saw a new castle, had lots of new experiences, and went to the famous Fuji Rock Festival.
Complete information about Fuji Rock Festival here on the website.