Trance: It has seeped deep into this city's ambience. Aside from the clubs, where you'll likely find four or five trance events every weekend, and the massive summertime outdoor festivals, it's always in the air, and unmistakable. Wander into any Roppongi watering hole or strip club; pop into any funky Harajuku boutique catering to girls who like to show off their navel tattoos; pass the racks of garish psychedelic and generic progressive-trance compilations at Tower or HMV; or slip into one of the increasing number of head shops, and you're sure to hear it -- an adrenaline-fueled sound of relentless rhythms and pulsating, shimmering synths.

What's remarkable is that -- with next to zero media- or music-industry support -- this music grew out of a petri dish of travelers, DJs, dancers and dopers to become ubiquitous. With music and parties by the fans, for the fans, trance was (is?) the largest D.I.Y. youth subculture in Japan since punk. And -- as always, when things happen through chance, love and naivete -- the vibe has been great.

Flashback to 1992: A secret Shimbashi place under the tracks. The event: Twilight Zone, one of Tokyo's first "warehouse" raves. Fliers have been handed out only to those who look clued-in, and the drinks on offer are chemically enhanced. The sound pulsating out of the speakers sounds familiar, like U.K. acid house, but strange: more driving, more intense, more out there. The crowd shut their eyes and ride the waves of alien, cosmic sound, lost in communal bliss. Trance in Japan is born.