The Purely Japanese Rock in the Rising Sun Rock Festival of Japan

Music festivals have gotten a bit mainstream in the recent decades that have passed. This isn’t a bad thing because these types of festivals give people from different places an opportunity to come together and enjoy music as one. To mention some examples of music festivals that are able to do just that, there are the likes of Malasimbo in the Philippines and Coachella in the United States. Japan also has its fair share of world-class music festivals like the Summer Sonic Festival and the Fuji Rock Festival but there is one that is unlike any of these two amazing events and that is the rock music festival known as the Rising Sun Rock Festival.

Nesnad [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

The Details of the Rising Sun Rock Festival and the History of the Rising Sun Rock Festival in Ezo 

Finding the details of this event online isn’t as easy just searching for the Wikipedia page of the topic or a Youtube video of the event. It can be quite tedious because it will certainly lead you to a lot of sites with IP addresses that have phrases like “”, “httpsi”, “imgur”, “jpg”, and even “idngr”. You don’t have to be a programming wizard to know that these codes are foreign so it is also most likely that you won’t be able to understand the information found on these sites anyway. Luckily, there are other ways to find specifics about this marvelous festival and all you have to do now is read on to find out what that is.

Nesnad [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

The Rising Sun Rock Festival is a music festival that focuses on the genre of rock. This alone makes it different from the other music festivals hosted in Japan and the people like it that way. It started in 1999 and it has become part of a tradition to some because it hasn’t missed a year since it started. In present times, this rock festival is officially held in Ishikari, Otaru which is a place found in Hokkaido Japan. Much like how FYI means “for your information” and GTGT means “got to go to” and due to its lengthy name, most people, as well as the organizers,  have started to refer to it in its abbreviated form which is RSR.

Festivals like this one usually start small and it is exactly the case for the RSR. Looking at it now, it has become one of the biggest festivals in Japan with multiple extravagant stages that are used by over 100 artists that participate in this annual event. Back then, when it was first held on August 21 in the year 1999, it was a completely different story. It was only a 1-day event and there were only 15 artists that were all, coincidentally, pair performers. This is not to say that the first RSR was a failure because 26,500 people still came to enjoy the vibes and the music of the event anyway and it was clear that it had a great potential to grow.

In 2000, the second RSR was held and it immediately had major upgrades from the first one. Aside from increasing the number of artists they got for the 1-day event, they were also able to establish an additional stage that they called the RSR Tent. With this additional, RSR 2000 gave the goers a choice to watch the live artist on either the Main Stage or the RSR Tent. This RSR Tent was intended to be a stage wherein the newbies of the industry can share their music a large massive crowd. There were also DJ’s that played in the RSR Tent which gave a bit more diversity to the sounds in the tent.

In the following year, particularly in the year 2001, the RSR got even better because it went from a 1-day festival to a 2-day festival. There were still 2 stages but the RSR Tent, which was changed to the Earth Tent, was only open on the first day of the event. The organizers also changed the name of their main stage to “Sun Stage” which was a nice touch of development on their part. This RSR was also when the Moon Circus was conceptualized. It wasn’t called the Moon Circus in the 2001 RSR yet but because of LOOPA NIGHT being held where the Earth Tent was on the second day of the event during midnight, it sparked an idea within the organizers to incorporate the whole thing to the next RSR and that is exactly what they did.

The Rising Sun Rock Festival in Ezo’s Development and Line-up of Things that Happened in These Respective Events

Nesnad [GFDL ( or CC BY 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

The move the organizers did to add the Moon Circus in the RSR in Ezo 2002 instantly doubled the number of people that went to their festival. From averaging around 25,000 to 30,000 people, the recorded attendance of 2002 was at a remarkable 65,000 people. Since then it the attendance for this festival has stayed in the 60,000 range and even reached a high of 80,000 people in the year of 2008 which was also the 10th year anniversary of the RSR event.

Throughout the years, more and more stages were also added as the number of participants grew and by the time that it had reached the RSR 2013, the stages that were being used in the festival, that were in addition to the Sun Stage and Earth Tent, were the stages of def garage, Bohemian Garden, Red Star Field, and the Rainbow Shangri-La. This particular RSR was the 15th time it was being held so to commemorate this milestone, they added a segment called “Friday Night Session” and it was practically an RSR Original ROCK ‘N ROLL Show. In addition to this rock segment, they also had an introduction for solar energy on the Bohemian Garden which was something you don’t usually see in this event.

The 16th RSR, which happened in the year of 2014, went on to be successful as usual. The same stages were used with the addition of the Red Star Café. This café had been there in the past RSRs but it wasn’t a considered a real performance stage because it was treated as more of a free-for-all kind of stage. However, during the 2014 RSR, they decided to make the live performances that happen there full-blown and this attracted even more artists to come and play for the festival. This RSR also included some environmental education as they went with the theme called “Cycle” which focused on recycling garbage. They also slid certain segments to educate people about the power of solar power as well as certain green projects like the wood splitting project that was going on that year. All this happened during the Friday Night Session again and despite what others may think, with the mini-lectures incorporated into the flow of the artists playing, it turned out to be amazing. It would also be useful to know that the RSR is really invested in renewable energy which is why they had the Bohemian Garden Stage fully powered by the Solar Budokan found right beside the garden.

The years of 2015 and 2016 were the years that cemented the RSR as a part of the local culture in the Otaru area. In 2015, the organizers made the Red Star Field Stage bigger than usual because they had to make space for huge group performances. These groups were the local Ishikari Municipal Hanagawa Minami Junior High School brass band and the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. The orchestra definitely brought in a new kind of rock to the festival but the highlight shined more on the local school’s brass band because it got the community of Otaru involved in the RSR festival. In the following year of 2016, they would further deepen their ties with the locals as they let the Ishikari junior high and high school students handle the decorating of the entire festival venue. They called it the “Ishikari Art Project” and although all they did was decorate the place, it also opened the students’ eyes to the possibility of a career in music because of their exposure to the environment of the RSR.

A Review of Rising Sun Rock Festival

Andreas Lawen, Fotandi [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

Searching for the line-ups for the RSR can be quite fun because their website is an interactive one. Looking back at how they presented their line-up during the 2017 RSR, the site was very “gallery-like” as it labeled which artists were playing along with where they were to play and on which date. In addition to these details, the site also showed which ones were available to the campers and it also showed if a specific artist left a message for their fans. This message from the artists was uploaded on Youtube and then linked to the website which is why a lot of people found it fun and interactive.

The website was great but what made it even better was the amazing line-up that played in that 2017 RSR. Bands and acts like The Oral Cigarettes, The Queen Bee, Nothing’s Carved in Stone, The Back Horn, Saucy Dog, and Aomori Tesai graced the stages and you knew that the people loved it because the RSR 2017 was, unfortunately, one wherein the weather did not cooperate with the event. With this said, the people could have easily decided to stay in their camps or to just go back home but because of the music that these artists had to share, the crowd, without any hesitation, stayed and went on to party at the RSR 2017.

In a way, the bad weather was a good thing because that means that if the weather is good for the 2018 RSR, it becomes immediately better than the 2017 and the 2017 one was a great one. This is safe to assume because the line-up for the 2018 RSR has been released and from the looks of it, even if it does rain again, the people will once again surely stay. To give you an idea of why this is so, bands and artists like the Guitar Worl and Orange Range have already confirmed their spot for the festival. If that isn’t enough to convince you, you should also know that Scoobie Do, Super Beaver, The Bawdies, Ego-Wrappin, Akira Koaku, and many more great musicians are part of this line-up which you can see online if you search for it specifically.

Going to the venue and finding a place to stay is very easy in this area of Japan so having a guide isn’t really necessary. If you want to lessen your hassle of traveling back and forth from the venue for day 1 and day 2, you can also opt to camp like what most goers do. You will just need to buy a ticket to camp there and you should be good to go. The organizers of the event also provide rentals for the camps so you need not bring your own and this makes the packing you have to do for this event a lot simpler. With all this said about the RSR, you can be sure that you’ll have fun while also giving back to mother earth because of this festivals promotion and involvement with green projects. If you see that you like the line-up for this year, be sure to book as soon as possible because you just might run out of a ticket if you wait too long. This event is scheduled to happen on August 10, 11 of this year and although it is quite a long time away, remember that thousands of people go to this great event and the number of goers has just been increasing throughout the years.