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ROCK IN JAPAN

Soundtrack of the summer: Puffy

by David Hickey

No festival this summer will attract more punters through its turnstiles than Rock In Japan. And no band is likely to get the crowds more animated over this all-Japanese music fest’s three days than female duo Puffy. Now in their 30s, Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura have been plying their punkish, made-for-karaoke J-pop since 1997, and earlier this year they released the career-spanning comp “Hit & Fun.” So, for their RiJ set expect the hits — and nothing but the hits. Also expect Puffy’s “sensei,” Tamio Okuda, to play alongside them, since the svengali writer/producer behind many of the duo’s biggest sellers plays RiJ on the opening day.

Also check out: Shutoku Mukai’s wonk-pop outfit Zazen Boys is as subversive as RiJ gets. Last year, Mukai played solo, largely ditching the guitars and letting the synths run wild on the Sound of Forest stage. With his full band, things should be more rockin’ this time around. Don’t miss snot-blowing, cross-dressing comedy-chanson singer Yoshiaki Umegaki, either.

The setting: Despite crowds upwards of 47,000 on each of the three days, don’t expect to queue for a beer or the toilet — RiJ has staff and amenities aplenty, making it comfortable enough to attract middle-age blokes and families. It’s also usually got perfect weather, making the easy stroll from stage to stage actually enjoyable rather than drudgery.