Feeling a little off these days? How about listening to a total headbanger jam? Tickle your ears with intense guitar riffs or jump along with the smashing drumbeats. Here are 15 (and some of the greatest) Japanese rock bands you need to listen to RIGHT NOW.
Japanese rock, or more popularly known as J-Rock has been shaking the world since time immemorial. Its eclectic, futuristic, and experimental sound attracted millions of fans from all parts of the world.
Get ready to rock, lose yourself or cry with these amazing J-rock superstars! 行こう！(Let’s go!)
ONE OK ROCK
Celebrated group ONE OK ROCK has left impressive footprints of representing J-Rock across the world. The band’s sound versatility from alternative, and emo, to pop-rock, made them one of the most renowned Japanese rock icons. Their astounding stage aura cannot be on par with just any other. Under this award-winning band are their remarkable collaborations with All Time Low, Sum41, 5SOS, My Chemical Romance, Avril Lavigne, and Ed Sheeran. One Ok Rock has recently been hailed as “Artist of the Year” by Spaceshower Music Awards 2020. Sugoi!
Debut: 2005 – Present | 15 years active
Must Listen: The Beginning, Wherever You Are, Nobody’s Home, Clock Strikes and Pierce
Known as a band that transcends to all ages. RADWIMPS is a chart mainstay in Japan, scoring multiple Oricon number 1s since debut. The platinum-certified band is known for its striking lyrics and experimental rock sound. Their frontman, Yojiro Noda also debuted as a solo artist under the name “illion” and released two albums. RADWIMPS gained more global recognition by providing the soundtrack of the highest-grossing anime film of all time, “Your Name”. *Cue in the ever magical, Sparkle*
Debut: 2005 (Major debut) to Present | 15 years active
Must Listen: Sparkle, Iron Bible, Setsuna Rensa, DADA and IKIJIBIKI (Ft. Taka of One Ok Rock)
BUMP OF CHICKEN
A legendary group that provided a multitude of music for video games, movies, TV shows, and anime in Japan. BUMP OF CHICKEN has successfully charted in the Oricon’s top ten for their every release. Their major influence in pop culture in Japan been evident ever since. From One Piece OST, Guitar Freaks, Drummania, Tales of Abyss, Doraemon Movie, and Final Fantasy Type- O to name a few. Definitely, yabai!
Debut: 1994 to Present | 26 years active
Must Listen: Ray, Tentai Kansoku, Zero, Good luck and Smile
One of the best-selling and most successful J-rock bands having 75 million record sales. Mr. Children claims its 30 consecutive number 1 hits. They also hold the record for the most number 1 albums in the Oricon charts. Impressive! Band fun fact: their fandom name is called Father & Mother. How witty is that?
Debut: 1992 (Major Debut) to Present | 28 years active
Must Listen: Himawari, Ashioto~Be Strong, Namonaki Uta, and Inori “Namida No Kidou”
Ever dreamt of visiting a maid’s café in Akihabara? How about listening to these maid café chic rockers? Band-Maid’s submissive theme is a total contrast with their hard-hitting rock songs. Due to their uniqueness and vocal colors, they were awarded as Best Musical Act of 2020 by Neo Awards. Masters are great!
Debut: 2013 to Present | 7 years active
Must Listen: Domination, Endless Story, Don’t You Tell Me, Freedom and The Non-fiction Days
Highschool buddies turned internationally-recognized all-female band. Scandal boasts a steady fanbase from US, France, Hong Kong, and more. Aside from their pretty faces, the band is also critically-acclaimed for their talents. All four members are lead vocals, with focused instruments. Scandal provided the hit soundtracks for the anime Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. In 2019, Scandal announced that they will be creating their own private label. We stan girl power!
Debut: 2006 to Present | 14 years active
Must Listen: Scandal Baby, Shunkan Sentimental, Namida No Regret and Doll
Japanese fusion rock band consisting of five members. UVERworld was known for its works such as the opening theme of the anime Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 2 and Bleach. Their official fan club is called New Sound Wave, while the band’s staff are called Neo Sound Crew. Uverworld’s music video “Gold”, was Japan’s first 3-D music video. Check it out!
Debut: 2000 to Present | 20 years active
Must Listen: Mixed Up, Kimi No Suki Na Uta, Core Pride and Impact
Previously known as Srv.Vinci, the band underwent major changes from label transfer and name. Thus, the conception of King Gnu. This breakout Japanese band has been making waves for their raw and stellar discography. King Gnu is a billboard japan chart-topper since their major debut in January last year. They recently bagged the Best New Asian Artist – Japan award during the 2019 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA). To top it off, they’ve also won the Best Japanese Act in the MTV Europe Music Awards in the same year. Uwa~!
Debut: 2015 to Present | 5 years active
Must Listen: Hakujitsu, Tokyo Rendezvous, Teenager Forever and Humor
Historic J-rock act, L’Arc~en~Ciel features a stunning 40 million records sales on their profile. Despite issues surrounding the band, the members continued and strive for success. Shortly after, the majority of their releases topped the Oricon charts. Following their notable achievement in Japan, they extended their promotion to the US market in early 2000. Europe debut followed a year after. Even now, L’Arc~en~Ciel proves to be a strong force in the Japanese rock scene.
Debut: 1991 to Present | 29 years active
Must Listen: Winter Fall, Caress of Venus, Hitomi No Jyuunin and Bless
MAN WITH A MISSION
Hard rock band Man with A Mission is known for its eccentric concept and intriguing backstory. Each member wears distinctive wolf masks on all performances and music videos. Said to be artificially made android, created by a mad scientist, they were frozen in Antarctica for a long time while listening to all kinds of music. They were then able to escape and started a music career in Japan. Nani?! Their songs have been used for numerous anime, live-action movies, and video games.
Debut: 2010 to Present | 10 years active
Must Listen: Fly Again, Don’t Loose Yourself, Emotions, and Get Off of My Way
MRS. GREEN APPLE
CoEd band Mrs. Green Apple originated from Tokyo, Japan. Their first album, “Twelve” immediately placed 10th on the Oricon charts. Instantly placing in the top 10 of the Oricon charts is considered a great feat for a Japanese rock band. Mrs. Green Apple provided the ending theme for the anime series, Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc V. The band’s sound is as refreshing and good as their name echoes.
Debut: 2015 to Present | 5 years active
Must Listen: Inferno, Cheers, Ao To Natsu, and WanteD
If you’re torn between idols and bands, Baby Metal is the answer to your struggle. Effectively combining the idol charm, and the band’s metal instrumentation. Baby Metal has been considered a success since their 2014 debut. The members were originally a sub-unit of an idol group Sakura Gakuin. Baby Metal became an official independent artist in 2013. Their second album, “Metal Resistance” received an overwhelming response from the international scene. Thus, they went on several tours around and outside Asia, furthermore proving their exceptional band appeal. Kawaii but deadly, ne?
Debut: 2014 (Major Debut) to Present | 6 years active
Must Listen: Akatsuki, Road to Resistance, Headbanger, and Megitsune
MY FIRST STORY
Also known as MFS, hailed from Shibuya. Upon debut, My First Story recorded remarkable sales for their first and second album. It gathered massive attention from the public, scoring them gigs in some of the biggest music festivals in Japan. My First Story launched their fandom in 2016 called “Storyteller”. The band toured all 47 prefectures of Japan for their “We’re Just Waiting 4 You” Tour in the same year.
Debut: 2011 (Major Debut) to Present | 9 years active
Must Listen: The Story is My Life, Alone, Neurose and Second Limit
Originally known as “Champagne”, the band went to promote with the name for seven years. In 2018, they renamed to “Alexandros” due to the request of the Bureau of Champagne in Japan. Since formation, the band’s releases have constantly topped various Japanese music charts. Awards also came pouring to the band as Best Rock Artist, People’s Choice, and Best Group Artist from 2016 to 2019. Did they pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate? Hmmm.
Debut: 2010 to Present | 10 years active
Must Listen: Wataridori, Girl A, Swan and Snow Sound
Official HIGE DANdism, also known by the name “Higedan”, is Japan’s premiered pop and rock band to date. Formed in 2012, the band is now considered one of the fastest rising stars in Japan. The piano-pop band holds a striking record of 23 weeks in the billboard Japan top 10. Higedan’s sound can be described as rock with heavy influences on R&B and soul. Their song “Pretender” accumulated 100 million total streams in just a short span. “Pretender” also won Song of the Year for both Space Shower Music Awards 2019 and MTV Video Music Awards Japan. Indeed, chou sugoi!
Debut: 2012 to Present | 8 years active
Must Listen: Pretender, No Doubt, Stand By You and Shukumei
Yatta! That’s it! Give these Japanese rock bands a listen if you need a playlist revamp or just in the mood to widen your music horizon.
Whatever vibe you are in, whether you sing it from the shower or blast it off in the living room, we won’t mind.
Did you enjoy it? Honto?
Is your favorite band included in the list? Leave your comments below or share your feels!