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The Best Japanese Bands

OK, so, as part of the “regenerating content” strategy of this website, I’ve been writing a quick introduction to Japanese bands (the good ones), similar to the one that used to be up here. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) it’s getting pretty durn long. So, it seemed like the best thing to do, as always when a problem gets large, was to break it down band-by-band. So, be on the lookout for a series of articles on the best Japanese bands! First up is probably Rip Slyme.

Music is probably a good thing for its own sake, but it’s a super-genius-great way to strengthen your Japanese. This is especially true of hip-hop, but, to be fair, any kind of music with Japanese lyrics will work, it’s just that hip-hop is especially powerful. When you learn to handle the speed and vocal acrobatics of rap, you can handle anything.

in any music, the three R’s: rhythm, rhyming and repetition, are great for learning vocabulary. Music also brings joy into your life in that it reminds you that language can be a great plaything; language is fun. It’s easy to lose sight of that sometimes.

A word on scope: I’m not going to try to be comprehensive and name-drop every possible Japanese band, because (1) there are too many and (2) a lot of famous ones, frankly, suck, and are tainting the image of Japanese music. So, we’re just going to focus on the good ones, the best ones; the ones that are warrant an exchange of money on your part.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the articles! As always, feel free to let me know what you think by email (khatzumoto at alljapaneseallthetime dot com) or by comment at the bottom of the page.

  18 comments for “The Best Japanese Bands

  1. NightCrier
    December 11, 2008 at 05:17

    I think Home Made Kazoku should be on the list as well there’re quite good

  2. valentina
    May 5, 2009 at 01:02

    I love to listen Japanese’s music, and for me the only j band that I really enjoy is RENTRER EN SOI! I listen their songs everyday, but still I don’t understand how to learn japanese from the lyrics of song… I mean, I ‘m not able to remember all the words used in the song… or I should learn at memory?

    I love to read your Alljapaneseallthetime, and if still I’m here to learn something by myself is only thanks your encouragement!
    Thank you!

  3. August 27, 2009 at 15:37

    I’m a fan of The Pillows. I got hooked to them when I saw FLCL (or Furi Kuri, sorry, I’m unsure as to which one is politically correct), and if I’m not mistaken they did at least 80% of the music for that great anime. After finding a Discography that I “borrowed” off my great friend, Mr. Enter Hiway ;D , I’ve realized that unfortunatly their music only starts to get really into the swing of things in Runner’s High, but after that it seems to be smooth sailing. I haven’t had enough time to check out their newer stuff, but if you like alternative-rock (I’m guessing that’s what they’re labeled), then I think you’ll like The Pillows. The only downside I can name of them is that some of their lyrics are eigo (English. Sorry, I’d at least try to spell it in hiragana, but it’s not working for some odd reason), but once you get past that it’s some pretty sweet stuff. Check them out, my friend may have a bay in the sea of Torrent (or at least that’s what he says *wink wink*) that may be able to hook you up.

  4. June 24, 2010 at 19:00

    if you’re into rap music, it’s definitely 「Tha blue herb」. A band from Sapporo who just RULEZ. they’re among the very few japanese rap band that doesn’t sounds like ジャニーズ with bling bling. I humbly apologize if you’re into ジャニーズ or bling bling (orz).
    for J-POP, it’s 「shiina ringo」 and 「tokyo jihen」.
    and for reggae… that’s a tougher one… 「dry & heavy」seems safe. produced in england and all.

  5. Ovais
    June 30, 2010 at 10:53

    Nightmare and gackt all the way.there songs are good and the vocals are clear so its easy to understand..

  6. Wakjob
    August 1, 2010 at 17:58

    Mr.Children – hands down.

  7. Will
    August 26, 2010 at 08:40

    I’m a great fan of anything rock.

    Alt Rock

    The Pillows – If the Beatles and Pixies genetic codes were fused into a clone and said clone grew up on a healthy diet of sushi and awesome then this would be the Pillows(yes they are that Amazing) Check out ‘Perfect Girl’, ‘Hybrid Rainbow’, ‘Last Dinosaur’, ‘Scarecrow, and ‘Funny Bunny’ for an idea of their sound.

    Radwimps – (like Linkin Park but much better) check out ‘最大公約数’ ‘Futarigoto’ ‘おしゃかしゃま’, ‘有心論’

    Snowkel – Pretty good contemporary rock ‘Namikaze Satellite’ , ‘Solar Wind’ ‘Ōki na Mizutamari’, ‘Tenki yoohoo’

    Eastern Youth –Screaming shaky vocals, somewhat technical. ‘Suro-mo-shon’ ‘Natsu no hi no gogo’ ‘雨曝しなら濡れるがいいさ’

    Mellow Rock

    Unicorn – Specifically the song ‘Wonderful Days’ all their other stuff is more Alt Rock ‘Maybe Blue’

    Kururi – Grand Theft Auto FTW!!!! ‘highway’

    Remioromen – ‘3月9日’ ‘花鳥風月’

    Pop Rock

    Flumpool – catchy guitar riffs and melodies, shaky chipmunk lead singer, stringed instruments ‘Hana ni Nare’

    Ellegarden – Sound like Simpleplan but more sophisticated; pretty catchy stuff. Most of their songs are in English except for the following two(tell me if you know any other songs by them exclusively in Japanese please!) ‘Missing’ ,‘Monster’

    Punk Rock

    Mongol 800 – like something out of a Tony Hawk soundtrack, Pachelbel’s Cannon riffs – ‘Chiisana Koi no Uta’ ‘あなたに’

    Blue Hearts – Related to the Ramones, testosterone overload. ‘linda linda’ , ‘owaranai uta’ ‘train train‘ ‘人にやさしく’

    Does – ‘donten’ ‘shura’

    Saboten – ‘Scenario’ ‘aosora he’ ‘otana ni natte’

    Metal(and any other subgenres)/Heavy rock

    マキシマム ザ ホルモン – screaming, decent vocal harmonies, heavy guitar, no guitar solos ‘恋のメガラバ’, ‘ぶっ生き返す!!’

    One Ok Rock – ‘光芒’, ‘恋ノアイボウ心ノクピド’

    Girl Bands(cuz they’re special!)

    Noodles – Bitter sweet vocal melodies, 60’s rock sound nothing too out there. Just plain good. ‘love my life’ ‘skin’

    Go!Go!7188 – Unique vocals, punkish/ 60’s crunchy sounding lead guitar. ‘C7’ ‘Kinkyori Renai’ ‘こいのうた’ ‘aoi’

    Shakalabbits – a worthy skapunk band, cool guitar solos, ‘Mushroom cat number plate’

    Judy and Mary – high pitched voice a bit annoying at first but definitely worth getting used to.’motto’, ‘sobakosu’,

    If you really liked any of these songs I have plenty more in the form of Youtube playlists. Check them out here.
    Japanese Bands 1

    Japanese Bands 2

    AJATT Music

    And for those of you who have been struggling with the very limited Rock Scene in China, here is my Chinese Rock Band playlist(if you know any more Good chinese ROCK bands, please tell me bout em’ kay?

    Oh yeah, if anyone knows of any good Pinyin Optical Character Recognition Software tell me here at t


    • Mickey
      August 7, 2012 at 12:51

      Oh my gosh, thank you sooo much! This was soo absolutely helpful! Ive been searching for rock, thinking I would never be able to listen to anything but pop ever again…this helped me soo much (I was/am a huuge rise against 30 seconds to mars fan, and really wanted something up that alley…..couldn’t find it, but have now thanks to your playlists and suggestions!! :))

  8. May 18, 2011 at 14:10

    Thanks for all these comments. I’m gonna check out a lot of these bands.

    One I recommend is Asian Kung Fun Generation–They’re fun and upbeat. Great for karaoke!

  9. クリーブ
    November 18, 2011 at 17:03

    Bump are my top recommendation.  Pop rock – upbeat stuff, sad love songs, melodic tunes.  The singer has a really beautiful, clear voice, and everything they do is well arranged.  The have a sense of humour, too, check out their bonus tracks! Funny stuff!
    I recommend The Living Dead.  Imo best tune is  続.くだらない唄.  It’s as the vocalist messes up halfway through and just shrugs it off and continues (on a live recording).  Good stuff!

  10. Sean
    November 20, 2011 at 02:43

    You can’t talk about Japanese bands without mentioning X Japan!

  11. sly
    November 28, 2011 at 15:17

    i like Bleach/Bleachmobile/Bleach03 but i bet you can’t understand the lyrics even if you was born in 沖縄

    December 6, 2011 at 22:22

    I love madly garnet crow they are the best band in the world

    August 27, 2012 at 14:34

    Since J-rock and J-pop are seperate things her are my top ten for both

    Top 10 J-Rock Bands
    1. X-Japan
    2. Dir En Grey
    3.HIDE (With Spread Bever and Zilch)
    4. Luna Sea
    5. L’arc en ciel
    6. Buck-Tick
    7.The Gazette
    8.Maxium The Horemon
    9.Alice 9
    10. MUCC

    And top ten J-Pop bands
    1.Hironobu Kageyama
    2.Off Course
    3. Ayumi Hamasaki
    4. Nsna Mizuki
    5. Mami Kawada
    6. AKB48
    7. Access
    8. Ryuichi Kawamura
    9.Chihara Minori
    10. Yui Horie

  14. Wander
    July 1, 2013 at 13:43

    A lot of Japanese music ( mostly J-pop ) really puts me off. However even before I started learning Japanese I found out about a couple bands, probably two of my favorite bands now. Boris ボリス is a great experimental band, they probably have something for everyone. From J-pop , noise, to sludge, they have a very diverse sound. Another great band is MONO 物(?), although sadly I don’t think they have any tracks with vocals. That might hurt immersion a little bit.

  15. chama reddevil
    May 24, 2014 at 21:10

    I just know and like SPYAIR,

  16. H4
    July 24, 2014 at 14:24

    Most of my favs are rock/pop-rock, apart from Kreva (rapper). I’ll give you a sample:

    Scandal, pop-rock all girl band who work super hard but make super fun music:

    Sheena Ringo, awesome genius singer songwriter and multiple instrumentalist who makes some sort of powerpop-rock sometimes jazzy too:

    Tokyo Jihen, jazz/rock band fronted by Sheena Ringo:

    School Food Punishment… I don’t know how to describe it really… nice, not weird, just not very conducive to words:

    Yui, sweet singer songwriter who always puts emotion into her songs:—Rain-%2528eng-sub%2529/3eeb5c4c994f3a649d18ec9356815f26—TOKYO-%2528eng-sub%2529/d5a4b6b8132e7acd9f582541065269b0

    Kreva, nice rapper, generally relaxed but has some higher energy songs too:

    Baby Metal, insane mixute of cute idols and metal:

    Longlist: UVERworld, Arashi, Supercell, Sekai no Owari, Namie Amuro, Ken Hirai, Koda Kumi, Andymori and Nightmare.

  17. gabi
    March 13, 2018 at 23:06

    I really love those>
    1.X Japan all the way,simply the best
    2.LUNA SEA-because musically their songs are not from this world
    3.L Arc en Ciel-their music is the most beautiful thing I ever heard in my life,beautiful like a rainbow
    4.The Gazette-listen them live,Rukis voice is simply flawless
    5.BZ-they roooooock
    6.Dir en Grey-some of their songs like The final,Dozing green,Conceived sorrow,Dead tree,Rinkaku are not from planet Earth
    7.Alice Nine aka A9-good music good vocal
    8..Glay,Asian Kung Fu Generation,Porno Graffiti also so so good

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