Hey, music fans! Only about a week to go until Fuji Rock, Japan's largest outdoor music festival. If you are headed to the wilds of Niigata for three days of muddy musical madness, we've got some tips to make sure you party like a pro.
Fuji Rock Tent City -- Photo from Wikipedia by Jmills74
1. Get hotel or campground reservations
Even party animals need a few hours of sleep! Hotels are usually fully booked by this point, but if you are looking to snag a last-minute cancellation, remember that a shuttle bus runs between the festival site and JR Echigo-Yuzawa Station, stopping at Tashiro, Mitsumata and Asagai along the way. If you can't find a room in Naeba directly, you may have more luck further afield.
If you are camping, try to make it to the site on Thursday. Not only will you be able to snag a good place to pitch your tent, but you'll also be able to attend a fun pre-party Thursday night. The later you arrive, the more likely you'll be halfway up the mountain, far from the festival grounds and sleeping on a slippery incline.
2. Get Fuji Rock all-weather ready
Don't worry it won't rain the entire time! -- Photo from Flickr cc by Tokyo Times
Just embrace this fact: it's going to rain. FRF is notorious for bad weather. The first year, a typhoon nearly blew everyone off the mountain. That was at a different location, but still. Naeba is almost always rainy this time of year, but that doesn't have to ruin your fun or your phone. Just remember to bring these must-have items:
A Ziplock bag for your electronics. Sure, you want to be able to take pictures and coordinate with your friends, but you don't want to be constantly worrying about shorting out your phone either. Keeping it in a tightly sealed bag will ensure it stays dry and functional.
Wellies. Lots of rain + dirt paths + thousands of drunk people = a muddy morass. While it might be a bit clunky to stomp around in rubber boots, they will keep your feet dry and warm when things get soupy. Flip-flops, on the other hand, are liable to break when stuck in the mud. Plus, who knows what's actually in those puddles? At a music festival, public urination is rampant.
A raincoat or rain poncho, for obvious reasons. No umbrellas allowed at FRF.
Sunscreen. When rain isn't pouring down, the sun really beats down on the stage areas and nothing says newbie like a big ol' sunburn.
Look at those smart Fuji Rock people with chairs -- Photo from Wikipedia by Jmills74
3. Bring a camp chair
Even if you aren't camping, you're going to want one of these. The festival area really doesn't provide much seating and after the grass areas get good and muddy, you won't want to sit on the ground, even with a tarp. The walk between stages is long, so, a lightweight camp chair gives you a portable place to plant your buns and rest your barking dogs. Plus, you can choose one with a drink holder!
Plan ahead and save a few bottles BYOB to Fuji Rock -- Photo from Flickr cc by Kentaro Ohno
4. Do drinking prep
Speaking of drinks, beverages inside the festival grounds can get mighty pricey and require waiting in long lines. Save a bit of money by mixing your favorite cocktails in advance and bringing them along. No glass bottles or cans are allowed, but plastic bottles are A-OK.
Whether you are boozing or not, you'll want to stay hydrated. Bottles of water are available for sale, but organizers also provide free water and iced tea stations. However, you can only use them if you have a water bottle to fill and you can't just use an empty PET bottle, so bring along a refillable sports bottle or water canister.
5. Hit the town
We know you are a rock star, but even for the most seasoned party animal, three days is a long time to be going full throttle out in the elements. You'll feel better and enjoy the festival more if you take some time out to relax a bit. You can find chill-out areas on the grounds, but I recommend going into Naeba for a little downtime and to support local businesses. For 900 yen, you can take a bath at Yukisasa No Yu, a local hot spring that stays open 24 hours a day during the festival. Particularly if you are camping, this is a great place to know. I also like to go for a huge breakfast at Kura Dining at the Oyado Honjin hotel, where they offer an all-you-can-eat buffet until 2pm for 1,500 yen. Pro tip: the parking lot attendant across the street has discount coupons. Also, a couple of small shops and convenience stores sell drinks, food and other necessities cheaper than inside the festival gates.
OK, guys, you're ready! Have a blast and see you there! And while you're in the area why not check out more great travel spots?