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Asagiri Jam brings summer to a ‘funky, vibey’ end

Asagiri Jam takes place at the foot of Mt. Fuji on Oct. 10 and 11
Asagiri Jam takes place at the foot of Mt. Fuji on Oct. 10 and 11

TOKYO (TR) – Japan’s music festival season draws to a close with next month’s Asagiri Jam, a relaxed event in Shizuoka Prefecture that runs under the moniker “It’s a beautiful day.”

While many consider the festival to be Fuji Rock’s smaller sibling, Johnnie Fingers of Smash, which promotes both, says the concept for the two events is completely different.

“It is very much an outdoor camping-only festival in the spirit of the early rock festivals of the late ’60s: Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or The Cambridge Folk Festival when these started off as local village festivals,” he tells The Tokyo Reporter. “The idea was for it to be funky, vibey but well-organized mini festival at the foot of Mt. Fuji, [on the] hill side, picturesque [and with] beautiful sunrises and sunsets.”

Away from the scenery, the music played on the festival’s two stages is less about the biggest bands of the year and more about providing campers with something to dance to. This year’s lineup includes New York dance-punk band !!!, Japanese post-rockers Special Others and respected indie artist Shugo Tokumaru.

For many, however, the most memorable thing about the festival happens on Sunday before the music starts. Thousands of campers gather by the main stage and do rajio taiso morning exercises in unison. Smash encourage it. “It was planned as a fun thing to do, a kinda ‘good morning’ campers,” Fingers says. “We play the music over the PA … so the audience view beautiful Mt. Fuji while exercising. The idea came from Masahiro Hidaka, Smash’s president.”

Food and drink at the festival are also of a noticeably high standard. Stores from around the local area are invited by Smash to come and sell their best stuff to campers. “We make a conscious effort to help and include local businesses and local food produce in the festival,” Fingers says. “[We] also support the local area as a tourist attraction, so the audience will return to visit not only in the festival time.”

Many appreciate the care that goes into the planning of the event. It is about more than the music. “The festival usually sells out before we announce the line up,” Fingers says.

Note: Asagiri Jam extends over October 10 and 11 in Shizuoka Prefecture.