I can’t even tell people WHY, it just is.
I really didn’t find much in the way of music stuff in Japan while I was there, but I can recommend some stuff that has stuck with me in the years since.
the scale of Tokyo is overwhelming, but I’d recommend seeking parks and some smaller neighborhoods if the big stuff winds up feeling too big. I loved shimokitazawa and yoyogi park. even the big stuff is clean and orderly in a way that will feel foreign and futuristic, but I loved the small stuff the most.
Osaka was my favorite city. if you eat meat, I had some really great moments with the chef at Nikuteria Carnebaka. go out one night at eat fried stuff and drink. go up Mount Koya and walk through Okunoin (can’t really stress this enough, it was probably my favorite part of a month-long trip).
also, if possible, get outside the cities. half of my time there was spent in onsens in small mountain towns and that, more than the city stuff, is what has me itching to return to the country.
This, too. I’ve been in Nara for 8 years now, and I love life in the ancient capital: lots of history, 1300-year-old shrines, temples, and a nice slower pace: the city is not too big and not too small and very close to some deep nature. I love cycling, hiking, field recording so it’s great for wandering on old trails and routes in the mountains and through the small towns. The big plus is Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe are an hour’s train ride away, so it’s a good day trip city if you want to come and see the big buddha, the deer park, and such.
Also this. Lots of friends (and friends of friends) ask for recommendations when they come, and I always say the same thing if it’s your first time: just do the tourist thing, soak it all up and if the big cities are your thing, enjoy the wonderful flashing strobe-like chaos! Hit all the spots you can that are on your list and depending on your priorities and if time allows you can go off the beaten path, or save the more involved or out-of-the-way spots for your next trip.
I’m going only by the ones I know, have played at, or have heard of -I’m sure there are more so anyone, feel free to chime in if they haven’t been mentioned already up in this here thread!
Environment 0g - played there a bunch of times, all sorts of weirdness happens.
Hokage - Does “Naniwa Ambient” monthly event.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the legendary noise/hardcore/anything-goes basement that is Namba Bears.
Hmmm… there’s also Loser…and Compufunk…and Conpass…and Hopken…
Space Eauuu is a lovely gallery/performance space. Good coffee too! Nice people.
If you haven’t seen the RA Guides, here’s some good viewing:
Oh, and of course I can’t hit post without plugging Naiyabingi! It’s Muzan Editions’ fave venue in Nara, a rustic vegan/ital eatery halfway up Mt. Ikoma that hosts our quarterly “山の音/Yama No Oto/Sound of Mountains” live ambient events.
The best meal I’ve had (in probably my whole life) was a selection of tofu prepared at one of the temples up Mount Koya. Luckily for me, my travel companion hated tofu so I got to eat her’s too!
I also talk frequently about this 2003 meal I had up in the mountains as well as one of my favorites of my life…basically an all-vegan set of 20+ small dishes, the majority of which were varieties tofu. Do you have any idea what the name of the temple was? It’s a total lost memory for me…
EDIT: with some light googling, I think I found it! might be Ekoin Temple?
I think that was the same temple I stayed at as well. I didn’t take down the name, but it looks like it from my memories from 13 years ago. It was a spontaneous booking and I think the only temple that had a room available. So glad I went. Not so glad to wake up at 5am for the morning ceremonies.