For the first time in the 2020s, Japan’s summer music festival calendar looks normal.
During the first few years of the COVID-19 pandemic, large-scale gatherings were postponed or canceled, delivering a major blow to the country’s music industry. And when events started making their return, something felt off. Hampered by lower capacities and rules like “no cheering,” the communal thrills such festivals usually bring were missing. That, though, was a necessity — a health precaution as well as a way to keep the media eager to spot any festival slipups at bay.
Thankfully, the happy vibes — and a sense of freedom — are back in 2023, with relaxed regulations and dozens of regional and genre-specific live-music events happening over the next three months. It’s safe to call this the true return of summer music festivals, with a surplus of options to fill up the season.