Summer means a lot of things in Japan: stifling heat and humidity, fireworks and the Bon holidays, nagashi-sōmen noodles and chilled barley tea. For music fans though, the season brings a different kind of to-do list: booking cheap train tickets in advance, stocking up on essential supplies — and searching for your tent's instruction manual. Summer music festivals are an institution in Japan, and when you're hibernating six months from now, it'll be the memories of the season's highlights that will warm you up as much as any kotatsu.

Of course, the reality of the festival experience can be less than warm and wonderful, too — as you may realize after an hour fumbling in the rain, desperately trying to coax your tent into adopting a third dimension whilst your legs swell to twice their size (who said they were bringing the bug spray?). There are some things you just can't plan for, but stick to our guide and you shouldn't go too far wrong, music-wise.

Freedommune Zero (Makuhari Messe, Chiba Prefecture; July 13): Despite having announced only four acts so far, Freedommune Zero is already looking likely to be the most eclectic festival of the summer. As well as a DJ set from Dommune boss Naohiro Ukawa, experimental act Boredoms will present "7×13 Boadrum." After previous percussion-heavy concerts "77 Boadrum" (2007) and "88 Boadrum" (2008), featuring as many drummers as implied in each title, you don't need more than an elementary grasp of math to conclude that one of this year's requirements will be a large stage. There are also confirmed appearances from Penny Rimbaud — activist, writer, and founder of anarcho-punk band Crass — and 91-year-old writer-turned-nun Jakucho Setouchi, who will deliver a Buddhist sermon.