Summer Sonic japanLouder Than War’s Far East correspondent gives us the low down on two of Japan’s upcoming festivals, Sonic Mania And Summer Sonic Festival. All photos on here © SUMMER SONIC 2013 & SONICMANIA 2013. All Rights Reserved.

When it comes to the UK Festival’s with their lottery style ticketing, the gamble with the weather and the decline in audience behaviour, getting your festival fix overseas is increasingly becoming the go to solution.  Low-cost airlines have forged a now well-worn path to Europe’s musical delights so that looking further afield for an experience above and beyond the usual is now a reachable and trauma free alternative.

With a little planning taking in Japan’s premier music festivals, Fuji Rock, Sonic Mania & Summer Sonic, is an achievable goal. In one trip you can start off your adventures in the mountains of Neaba, sightseeing your way around the dynamic and always unique capital Tokyo and enjoy a holiday culminating in a long weekend at an urban musical oasis.

Sonic Mania and Summer Sonic Festival book established names alongside young contenders and offer both outdoor and indoor performances. The established venues they use offer an easy, comfortable and entertaining experience: while the municipal location makes for the perfect festival holiday for those not wishing to pack a tent in their suitcases. Sonic Manic and Summer Sonia are traditionally held between the first and second week of August. The first of these is an all night musical feast of live acts and DJ sets with a dance vibe, the next day the delights continue with Summer Sonic, a well organised yet energetic and vibrant two-day festival of the best in rock, pop and indie acts.

Sonic Mania And Summer Sonic Festival 2013 Tokyo – Festival Previews

Take a less than thirty minute train journey from Tokyo Station to Kaihin Makuhari Station where you’ll find home to Sonic Mania and Summer Sonic: QVC Marine Field and Makuhari Messe is a short walk from the station. While accommodation in walking distance of the venues can be expensive and is often booked a year in advance, hostels and hotels of all varieties just a short train ride away are abundant enough that space can be found even very close to festival dates. This year I am staying at a two star rated business hotel two train stops from Kaihin Makihari Station, I have a small simple private room and bathroom for four nights for less than £130 ~ this cost could be halved if I’d chosen to stay in a hostel with a dormitory. Even the low cost and most basic accommodation in Japan will be secure, clean and many offer buffet style breakfast, which is a welcome addition when you’re travelling on a budget.

Tickets for Sonic Mania and Summer Sonic are offered as separate purchases, you can even buy a single ticket for each day of Summer Sonic. While at the present time it is not possible for people outside of Japan to buy tickets details of how to do so will soon be announced on the Summer Sonic English Guideline Page how-to buy and where as soon as arrangements have been made. The total cost for tickets for one person to both Sonic Mania and two days at Summer Sonic is about £240.

Summer Sonic boast an extensive and variety filled options not just for your ears but for all your senses. As well as a food hall at Makuhari Messe there is a courtyard over flowing with options outside of the Marine Field venue, you can cool down with a kakigōri a huge cup of shaved ice flavoured with fruit syrups or fill up on a bowl of yakisoba (fried buckwheat noodles) and of course there is the ubiquitous burgers and French fries as well as plenty of beers, shots and soda’s. Your body can have its aches and pains massaged away or you can indulge your inner child with face painting, there are vendors selling arts, craft and clothing as well as performances from dancers, painters and entertainers.

Sonic Mania And Summer Sonic Festival 2013 Tokyo – Festival PreviewsThis year Sonic Mania hosts The Stone Roses, Pet Shop Boys, Klaxons, Ed Banger Records, Alvin Risk, Steve Aoki and much more as yet we are awaiting a timetable but it’s certainly looking to be a night of nonstop revelry. Summer Sonic Festival has an ecliptic and fascinating mix this year, the timetables have been released and it’s been an enjoyable task planning where to be and who to see. The full line up is too extensive to list in full (timetable here) so picking out the interesting, intriguing and noteworthy highlights. Saturday there’ll be a loose fit party on the sand at the Beach Stage with Jagwar Ma, a bit of hot footing about to catch Fidlar and Chvrches opening the Rainbow and Sonic stages, the Mountain Stage has a very British flavour with among others Alt-J, Jake Bugg, Stereophonics and Liam’s Beady Eye headlining. The main arena holds the Marine Stage: this year it’s pulled on its skinny black jeans and gone ‘ROCK’ the bill includes Bullet for My Valentine, Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park and Metallica. Sunday see’s 2011 Summer Sonic Marine Stage support act Zebrahead bringing the funky punk metal when they headline the Rainbow Stage. The Sonic Stage boasts the ever wonderful Palma Violets, Johnny Marr and Two Door Cinema Club. There is bound to be quite the boogie-fest going on at the Mountain Stage with Cyndi Lauper, Earth Wind and Fire and the Pet Shop Boys. While the Marine stage still has an exciting ‘yet to be announced’ gap between The Smashing Pumpkins and headliners Muse.

This year’s Sonic Mania will be held on August 9th at Makuhari Messe International Convention Complex and Summer Sonic August 10th and 11th at QVC Marine Field & Makuhari Messe in the Mihama-ku ward of Chiba City, Japan. Check the Summer Sonic and Sonic Mania websites for further details about access, tickets and appearing artists. Louder Than War will be there and look forward to bringing you details of all the performances, excitement and gossip from Sonic Mania and Summer Sonic 2013.

All words by Katie Clare. You can read more from Katie on LTW here.

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Our Tokyo correspondent


  1. Hi Katie, I will be going to my first ever Summer Sonic concert at Tokyo on 11 August and I do not quite understand the performers timetable. For example, Muse is the first act listed for the Marine Stage and Pet Shop Boys is the first act listed for the Mountain Stage. Does that mean Muse and Pet Shop Boys will be performing at the same time and I have to choose which act to see and I can only see one of them. Also, what time does the first performance for the day start and roughly what time will the last concert for the day end. Thanks for your advice.

    • Awesome Summer sonic is so much fun, hot very hot but that’s a Japan summer for you! Okay the time tables with times are not available until you collect on the day however yes it is probably that Muse and Pet Shop Boys will be performing approximately at the same time. Stages open and close at different times, also there are in different locations to get from the Marine Stage to Sonic Stage for example requires either a very very brisk 15 minute walk or you can catch a free transfer bus. Opening time varies for each stage – however I think the first acts on some stages is noon. Each night and each stage has a different closing time. I hope this help if you need any other help don’t hesitate to drop us a message ~ K

  2. Hi Katie, I will be going to the 2 day SS festival but at this moment am feeling quite unsure of purchasing the tickets online on the SS website (‘Rakuten Tickets’) as the information doesn’t seem to be clear. Perhaps, you could elaborate more on the purchasing of ticket processes online for the benefit of other overseas festival goers like myself? Thank you

    • Hello Ery,
      Sorry for not including this in the piece at the time we uploaded the article Creativeman had not made a decision of how to allow overseas buyers purchase tickets and as I live in Japan I don’t use the Rakuten Ticket system, I have now returned from my holiday and looked into the system and spoke to a past user and hope this little bit of information will help. Rakuten is the largest online web-shop in Japan and has a dedicated English based system for overseas customer to purchase from Japanese stores/websites.
      Following the link from the Summer Sonic English page to the Rakuten Summer Sonic Purchase Page as you said you are going for the two days chose the Ticket in advance 2 day ticket ( – you will need to decide if you wish to purchase a right or left of stage wrist band this only applies to the Marine stage (making sure you are clicking on correctly Osaka or Tokyo) Make payment as advised (I am told tickets will be collectable at the Makuhari Messe on the first day of the event) in the past you could choose for them to be delivered but I am told this is not longer an option. Hope this helps.

  3. Hi katie, Good day.
    I will be heading down to summersonic for metallica with da wife. Just wanna check with you, does Summersonic always end on time for the concert goers to at least catch the last train back to the city? We’ll be staying near to the imperial palace. Thanks in advance for your advice!

    • Hi Les,Hope you get to read this is good time. The main 3 headliners have usually all finish before 10pm. It can take a really long time to exit the area area depending where you are and just how quick everyone else is moving, the walk to the station is a good 15 minutes. Using the Keiyo Line from Kaihin-Makuhari station you can go directly to Tokyo and the last train on the Saturday is 12:13am – depending where you are staying there should be no issue. At the very least if you can get to Tokyo Station and you do miss an short onward journey on another train a taxi from there will not be so much (From Summer Sonic a taxi would be very expensive), No worries ~ anytime.

  4. Hi Katie! I know that your post is about a year old, you might not even remember the information I’m going to ask about, but I had to try. Anyway. Last year I went to Summer Sonic for a day and had such a good time that this year I decided to go to both days of Summer Sonic AND Sonic Mania. I am very excited about this! There’s one thing, though. Although I know that Sonic Mania is an all-night event, I’m pretty sure I will not want to stay the whole time. I’m also fairly certain that my hotel is well outside of walking distance from the venue. If I get tired enough I want to return to my hotel, when do trains stop and start running to/from the venue, and how do other people get back to their hotels? Do they just not leave, use taxi, or what…?

  5. Lauren – I’m going to Summer Sonic for the first time this year and I’m having a panic about where to stay! I really want to see Mogwai, Little Dragon and Antemasque on the Midnight Sonic stage but I can’t work out if that stage continues past midnight (as the name would suggest…) and if so how I get back to Tokyo after (I’d like to stay in Chiba but it looks like I’ve left it too late to get accommodation?). I’m finding it really hard to find the information I need. Sonic Mania is going to be awesome, 2manydjs! Are you staying in Tokyo or did you manage to get somewhere nearer the site?


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