Hey awesome Metal Insider readers! I’m Anthony Maisano. Last summer, I was an intern for Metal Insider, and a frequent contributor to the site. Currently, I am studying abroad in Fukuoka, Japan. Like almost every other country in the world, Japan too has its metal scene. I wanted to see if I could find out what kind of metal interests people have here in Japan during my stay.
Now, finding a metal fan in Japan is often even harder than it is in the United States. In the United States, you can usually pick out a guy with long hair, or someone wearing an Iron Maiden, Slayer, or Pantera T-shirt, but, in Japanese culture, it is not very common for a Japanese person to wear T-shirts with much in the way of graphics, and most don’t really grow their hair long. I have only been able to find one Japanese person wearing a Dream Theater shirt in one of my classes. Other than that, all of my observations come from speaking to Japanese people about music, and asking them if they have metal interests.
Before I dive right into what I found in Japanese people specifically, I want to take a minute to talk about the other non-American metal cultures I was able to experience. I live in an international dormitory here in Fukuoka that has students from over ten different countries in the world. I became friends with an Italian student, who noticed my T-shirt of Rainbow’s amazing Rising album. He is a huge Deep Purple fan, and we talked for a while about Purple and Rainbow. I found out a new Danish friend of mine is a colossal fan of doom metal, much like myself, and we bonded over Candlemass a bit. I am also friends with a French student who has a passion for hardcore bands such as Rise of the North Star. There is a British teacher at my school who saw my Judas Priest T-shirt, and talked to me about Priest and Saxon.
In terms of my findings for the Japanese population, I found that power metal is by far the most popular sub-genre. At least on the surface of what I was able to find. Even if Japanese people had not heard of many metal bands, many knew of a group called Galneryus, who have been making catchy, and very technical Japanese power metal since 2002. The group currently has nine studio albums, with the ninth just having been release in May of this year. It is a double album called The IronHearted Flag.
In addition, there was a black metal concert headlined here in Fukuoka by a group called Marduk (Swedish). I was not able to attend the show personally, but videos suggest that the show had some serious fans of the group, and an overall great intensity and energy, which indicates to me that there is probably a pretty heavy black metal underground scene here in Japan. The show was supported by Taake (Norwegian).
I believe that there will be much more that I can find when I am able to meet more people here in Japan. I will be sure to have an update after finding out where more metal interests lie here in Japan. Japanese metal exports come in all varieties, if you’re looking for more. There’s some more great, epic Japanese power metal like Versailles, amazing Japanese thrash like Fastkill, weird Japanese stuff like SIGH, and finally, some what the fuck stuff like Babymetal. Yeah. Babymetal.