Fuji Rock Festival 2011 - Tips and Highlights

It is impossible to describe in a single blog post the balance of harmony and chaos which is Fuji Rock. The setting amongst the mountains and rivers in Naeba is ridiculously beautiful, the multiple stage set up, not to mention hundreds of food and drink stalls, is awe-inspiring, and of course, the music is unmissable. I therefore will share just a few tips and highlights for those who want to venture on the Fuji Rock adventure in years to come.

Before heading to Fuji Rock I did some research on how to get there and where to stay, and was a little disturbed by people's comments that I would be lining up for hours to get on buses, and having to camp kilometers up on one of Naeba's slopes. Being sufficiently freaked out, my friend and I decided to take a Thursday night Shinkansen to avoid the crowds and get a decent camping spot. This was really the beginning to a flawlessly smooth weekend away. Leaving Tokyo Station around 7:30pm, after some initial tent-set-up confusion we were settled and ready for the first drink of the weekend by 10:30.

It is possible to stay at nearby hotels and b&b's, and despite at times wishing I had a proper bed, and more so a proper bathroom, I highly recommend camping within the festival grounds. There is a thick air of excitement around the campsite, and you are also a lot closer to the action of the festival. Each day in fact, I took a quick power nap around 4pm in the tent to prepare myself for the night ahead. Whilst the portable toilets and showers leave little to be desired, the campsite does have a good onsen where for a small fee you can wash yourself efficiently and revive your sore legs in the steaming hot bath.

But of course, you do not go to Fuji Rock just to camp. You go for the music. Each year Fuji Rock draws huge international acts; this year headlining were Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and the Chemical Brothers. Their elaborate stage shows were fantastic, but what really excited me were the smaller indie bands and international acts from places like Congo and Sudan (which generally played in the Red Marquee and Orange Court). It was at these shows that people would get out of their portable seats, stop politely clapping and swaying to the music, and start going crazy. One late-night act, Congotronics vs Rockers , really exemplified this to me. There is something drug-like to the African beat which forced everyone to scream and jump around for the whole two hour set.

And after two hours of jumping around there is nothing better than to get a vodka with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and a tasty cheeseburger from one of the international food stands, relax by the river and take in the atmosphere. Around the many stages, amongst the forest and within the river are various art and light installations which come alive at night. Huge eyes adorned one of the tallest trees, and 10 pointed fluro stars hung from the canopies, amongst the disco balls which glittered from within the forest.

My final tip is bring wet weather gear. It rained almost the full three days we were at the festival, and I survived in my flimsy poncho and cheap Muji rain boots, but learnt a good lesson from the Fuji Rock veterans around me; bring proper wet weather gear. Likewise, if camping, it's good to be prepared for the wet weather with some tarps, and preferably a mattress which is raised off the ground.

Whether you are a music fanatic, or just someone who loves to be outdoors and try new things, there is really no better way to spend a 3-day weekend in summer.

Tent city - better than any hotel in town

A river installation of colourful, friendly-faced rocks

Australian band - The Middle East

Spectacular light show, and bouncy balls at Coldplay

Some Doraemon's enjoying the one hour of sunshine

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great article! I went last year, was a tad more lucky with the weather fortunately. Wrote a blog post about it at www.rowwdy.wordpress.com

Post a Comment