One of the best parts of any Fuji Rock festival isn’t the food or nature or big-name acts on the bill but bouncing from stage to stage and discovering new, lesser-known bands. Sure, the quality of international headliners at Fuji Rock is usually great, but one thing the organizers have a special knack for is picking some of Japan’s best emerging artists and giving them the opportunity to take the next step in their careers. But with so many names on the timetable, it can be hard to know where to start, which is why we’ve made things easy for you and curated a playlist of 38 of our favorite Japanese bands to see at Fuji Rock this year — with special mentions for our top five below.

・THE NOVEMBERS

Alternative rock band, THE NOVEMBERS, will be making their third Fuji Rock appearance on the White Stage early on Friday night. Their Fuji Rock performance will mark the end of their current run of shows around Japan, where they’ve been playing some of their biggest venues to date. Known for elegantly mixing pop, heavy rock, new wave and visual kei influences, their Friday night set will be the perfect way to kick off your Fuji Rock experience with a bang. 

・Awich 

2022 will see Awich hit the Fuji Rock stage for the first time. After returning to the music scene in 2017, the Okinawan-born hip-hop artist made her major-label debut with the album Queendom in March of this year and she isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon. If you’re yet to experience Awich, check out her tracks “GILA GILA” and “Queendom” and catch us at the Red Marquee on Friday night. 

・No buses

No Buses have had a huge couple of years. They released their sophomore self-titled album in the middle of last year to acclaim from indie rock fans worldwide, quickly followed by a new single and a run of sold-out shows earlier this year. The five-piece band (named after the Arctic Monkeys track) will be making their debut Fuji Rock appearance at the Red Marquee ahead of their third album release which is slated for September.

・The fin.

Kobe’s The Fin. made their Fuji Rock debut at the Rookie a Go-Go tent in 2013 when the band was still a four-piece sporting acne spots. Since then they’ve played international festivals such as SXSW, relocated to London, become a two-piece project and heavily refined their sound. The fin.’s music, driven primarily by vocalist Yuto Uchino, now in his 30s, draws on late 80’s synth and shoegaze and modern indie and dream pop influences and their third Fuji Rock performance will take place at the Red Marquee early Saturday night. 

・OGRE YOU ASSHOLE

Fuji Rock veterans Ogre You Asshole will make their return to the festival at the Planet Groove stage late on Friday night. The four-piece from Nagano has been at the forefront of Japan’s psych-rock scene for just over 20 years now, regularly performing overseas and supporting acts such as Modest Mouse, Wolf Parade and Deerhunter domestically. Not afraid to let their pop influences shine through on their recordings, expect to see them evoke their psych and kraut-rock proclivities with extended instrumental segments and improvisational jams during their set.

Check out our playlist for the full list of artists to try and see this year with some honorable mentions to D.A.N., Niko Niko Tan Tan and Doping Panda.