Review of “Fuji Rock”

News review by Sebastian Sim


Fuji Rock: Japan’s clean, green and safe 16-year spectacle by Danielle Demetriou

In her article, Demetriou writes about Fuji Rock, the largest annual music festival in Japan held in Naeba in Niigata prefecture. She describes it as a “quintessentially Japanese event, renowned as one of the cleanest, greenest and safest music festivals in the world.” These features entice performing artistes, both local and international, and revellers all over the world to participate in the festival each year.

According to a director of Smash, the music promotion company responsible for Fuji Rock, the festival is “possibly the cleanest festival in the world”, and its ‘green concept” is a central theme. Various “green” initiatives include:

  1. A zero-rubbish policy, where rubbish created is sorted into five categories before being recycled;
  2. Other recycling efforts, including toilet paper made from cups and cigarette packaging and jackets worn by staff made from recycled plastic bottles, among others; and
  3. Minimal corporate intervention and prohibition of sponsorship banners near performing stages, in a bid to present an “untouched countryside”.

The director interviewed in the article mentioned that “being a Japanese festival, the event is not typical of Western festival style”, and if we recall Demetriou’s statement about Fuji Rock being “quintessentially Japan…”, there is a sense that both of them view Japan as a nation actively involved in ecologically-friendly practices and protective of its environment. In other words, there is a suggestion of Japan being a “green” nation.

It seems, therefore, that the article, despite focusing on Fuji Rock, makes a certain representation of Japan and the environment. It is essentially presenting to the reader a Japanese nation which is clean, “green” and unique compared to its Western counterparts. Such implicit representation, in my view, may well construct an inaccurate perception of Japan in the mind of a reader who possesses limited and uncritical knowledge of Japan.


Demetriou, D., 2013. Fuji Rock: Japan’s clean, green and safe 16-year spectacle [online]. The National. Available from: [Accessed 18 August 2013].

One thought on “Review of “Fuji Rock”

  1. As you say, this article implicitly constructs a Japan that is “green” or “eco-friendly” through its emphasis on recycling and keeping the landscape free from corporate advertisements. Calling the event “quintessentially Japanese” implies that all similar festivals are equally “green.” However, the author does not give examples of other festivals for the reader to know if this is true. It is more likely the case that Fuji Rock is the most sensitive to the environment, which is precisely why it is worth featuring in an article.

    Sebastian does a nice job of pointing out that readers of this particular news source might have a “limited and uncritical knowledge of Japan.” It will be interesting to see how many more news items this semester offer single examples of phenomena that their authors claim represent all of Japan, thereby giving readers a false impression of how “green” Japan is.

    That said, the festival is remarkable for its efforts. One question I would have asked the event organizers is how much its recycling efforts are self-designed and how many are legally required by the host municipality.

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