On July 20th, directly after my crazy backpacking trip in Hokkaido, I decided to take a plane from Sapporo to Komatsu airport, where I ventured off to the hot springs town known as Kaga for its yearly music festival. As a music enthusiast, this was a rare opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up!
About Kaga Onsen Festival
Kaga Music Festival is one of the biggest original music festivals in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, and has a total of 7 stages (some being lounges and some being club stages). The genre of the festival is mostly electronic, pop, and rock music, though I noticed that there were a number of indie artists that appeared at the after party this year, including one of my favorites from Kyoto City: in the blue shirt.
Though I was unable to attend the main festival due to time constraints, my experience at the after party made my trip here more than worth it. If you are looking for a festival that is unique to Japan and isn’t over-crowded like Fuji Rock or Summer Sonic, then this is definitely a solid choice. Kaga Music Festival has enough variety to keep you interested, but the music lineup doesn’t ever feel overwhelming and you can see almost everything you want. As an added bonus, there are many hot springs nearby that you can visit on the way home!
Getting to the Venue
To get to Kaga Music Festival, it is recommended to take a bullet train from Tokyo to Kanazawa then take a local train to Kaga Onsen Festival where you can catch a free bus to the main venue. You can alternatively fly to Komatsu airport and take a local train there like I did. This is a cheaper option, but the number of flights are limited due to how remote the area is.
Most of the accommodations by Kaga Onsen Station are quite expensive, so I booked a cheap room by the nearby Daishoji Station. After getting settled, I headed over to the main venue which was called Rurikoh, then walked to the after party located called Mori no Sumika Resort & Spa. The entrance fee at the door was 3000 yen with one drink.
Attending the After Party
The inside of the venue was absolutely stunning with flattering neon lights, a relatively large indoor stage, and an outdoor pool area you could go swimming in. The crowd here was mostly Japanese in their early 20s or 30s, but I saw a few foreigners walking outside the area. After checking out the venue, I immediately grabbed a vodka tonic and went to see the first performing artist.
The first artist was an electronic music producer called Yackle, and I caught their performance right as they were mixing a capsule song into a Nakata Yasutaka song, which was perfect timing because those are two of my personal favorites. This producer mixes a lot of different genres and makes their own edits so they are extremely fun to watch! Yackle has recently released an album called Frank Throw which features beautiful vocals and a mix of trap and bass music elements. This was my first time seeing one of there performances and it was an extremely fun experience.
in the blue shirt played his live set immediately after which consisted of a unique blend of vocal chops and remixes of his own songs, as well as other artists like Pasocom Ongaku Club:
This set was extremely exciting for me, because I haven’t seen in the blue shirt since Large Size in Kyoto which was nearly 5 months ago. Some of the people that attended that event recognized me here and pulled me to the front of the stage! I was extremely flattered to see that they remembered me and enjoyed dancing with everyone.
Recollect the Feeling
In April in the blue shirt released his latest album called Recollect the Feeling which is growing to become a respected indie release in the music scene. With its harmonic and compelling use of electronic samples that are intricately spliced in what appears to be its own language, this album definitely leaves a tremendous impact on the listener. Consisting of both English and Japanese lyrics, each song has an abstract yet nostalgic feel to it using indie electronic and triphop music styles, along with a variety of synths and instruments. Though some of the songs are short (under 2 minutes), when the album is played as a whole it takes your mind on an unforgettable journey through time. It’s still too early to say if I like this album more than Sensation of Blueness, but it is a polished release that I truly feel was worth waiting for.
On the latest album, I think “Casual Remark”, “Good Feeling”, and “Bamboo Leaf” are my favorites because they are great to listen to when exploring new places—I feel like I’m completely in my own aesthetic world when I listen to them. I believe his personal best work is “Cast Off” as it was the first song officially released and has the most consistent composition, but it’s really hard to choose because the album is best listen to as a whole. What’s amazing is most of these songs were played on his sets as WIPs/transitions since 2017 and it’s amazing to see them completed now.
Overall I’m really happy for this artist because they’ve managed to accomplish everything that is most important in album production: they’ve delivered a compelling album with quality merchandise, collaborated and done shows with other artists I really like, uploaded previews and mixes so we know what’s coming, continually have showed their progress, and seemingly created a new record label / collective called The Wonder Laundry. I’m so happy to have kept up with them through the whole entire release process and see them playing at big festivals now!
Of the other performing artists, I also recommend checking out PARKGOLF, Tomggg, and Avec Avec. All of them have unique electronic styles and are respected performers I have seen at various events in Japan. I spent the rest of the after party socializing with friends that I met and hanging out by the pool, but here are some of my favorite tracks that I recommend:
I will consider attending the main festival next year if more of my favorite artists continue to make appearances. I am excited to attend more unique music events similar to Kaga Onsen Festival this summer!