A big part of Japanese music's wild overseas image is defined by groundbreaking artists from the Kansai area.

Encompassing Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, as well as nearby Nara and Wakayama, Kansai's scene has exerted a powerful influence over international perceptions of Japanese music, particularly when it comes to punk, experimental and noise. In the 1980s and '90s, Boredoms, Acid Mothers Temple and Shonen Knife all blazed trails for the country's underground overseas. The Alchemy Records noise label, run by Jojo Hiroshige of noise pioneers Hijokaidan, was also influential. All of these acts hail from Osaka or made it their home.

Arriving with sparse knowledge of Kansai's current music scene, I found the sheer volume (in both senses) of what was going on musically was initially dizzying and relentless. Fortunately, I found myself repeatedly running into Maki Kanou and Makoto Wakisaka of postpunk duo Trespass, whose impeccable musical taste helped navigate me through a blizzard of information from the cities' dozens of live venues.