Electronic Dance Music in Japan: A Journal

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a fan of Electronic Dance Music, then you’ll want to check out this journal detailing the genre’s popularity in Japan. You’ll learn about the different clubs and events that are held, as well as the people who enjoy this type of music.


Since the early 2010s, electronic dance music (EDM) has been gaining popularity in Japan. In particular, the “EDM boom” that started around 2012 saw a significant increase in the number of Japanese EDM festivals, clubs, and EDM-centric events. The popularity of EDM in Japan is often attributed to the success of the “Tokyo Dreams” concert series, which featured international EDM artists such as Tiësto, Skrillex, anddeadmau5.

Despite its growing popularity, EDM remains a relatively niche genre in Japan. This is due in part to the fact that most Japanese EDM fans are college students or young adults who are not yet old enough to vote or smoke. As a result, EDM has yet to establish a strong foothold in the Japanese mainstream music scene.

This journal aims to document the current state of EDM in Japan. It will cover topics such as the history of Japanese EDM, the rise of “EDM culture” in Japan, and the challenges faced by the genre in Japan.

History of electronic dance music in Japan

While electronic dance music has its origins in the West, the genre has exploded in popularity in Japan in recent years. In this journal, we will explore the history of electronic dance music in Japan, from its early beginnings to its present-day incarnation. We will also examine the reasons for its popularity and the ways in which it has been embraced by the Japanese people.

Early electronic music in Japan

The first electronic music in Japan was developed in the early 1900s by Japanese composers such as Hisashi Tsuge, who were influenced by Western composers such as Claude Debussy and Ferruccio Busoni. These early works were not well-known outside of Japan, but they laid the foundation for later Japanese electronic music.

In the 1950s, Japanese composers such as Takeshi Matsumoto and Yasuhiro Otomo began experimenting with electronic music. These composers were influenced by Western electronic music composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. Matsumoto’s work “Electronic Piece No. 1” (1958) was one of the first pieces of electronic music to be performed in Japan. It was followed by “Electronic Piece No. 2” (1959) and “Electronic Piece No. 3” (1960).

In the 1960s, Japanese electronic music began to gain international attention. Composer Isao Tomitaiens was one of the first Japanese artists to achieve success outside of Japan with his debut album “The Electronic Field” (1964). Tomitaiens’ work helped pave the way for other Japanese electronic music artists such as Kenichi Matsubara, mind and Chico Hamaguchi who began releasing albums in the 1970s.

The rise of club culture in Japan

In the early 1980s, Japan was at the forefront of global club culture. Tokyo’s legendary clubs such as The Yellow and Wild Side were the birthplace of new styles of music and dance, and were frequented by international celebrities such as Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince.

The 1990s saw a rise in popularity of electronic dance music (EDM) in Japan, with pioneers such as Ken Ishii and Tetsuya Komuro helping to popularise the genre. The late 1990s also saw the start of the ‘superclub’ era in Japan, with huge clubs such as ageHa and Womb opening their doors to tens of thousands of clubbers every weekend.

Today, Japan is home to a thriving EDM scene, with world-famous DJs such as Alison Wonderland, Carl Cox and Skrillex regularly playing at clubs across the country.

The influence of Western electronic dance music

The history of electronic dance music in Japan is often said to have begun with the import of Western EDM in the late 1980s and early 1990s. However, it is worth noting that prior to this, there was already a thriving scene of experimental electronic music in Japan, often referred to as Japanese new wave or Japanese synth-pop. This scene was fueled by the popularity of Western new wave and synth-pop acts such as Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Visage, as well as Japanese acts such as Wink and Plastics.

It was not until the late 1980s and early 1990s that true EDM began making its way into Japan. Thanks to the work of pioneering DJs such as Ken Ishii and Tetsuya Komuro, Japanese clubgoers were exposed to the likes of Frankie Knuckles, Jeff Mills, and Orbital. The popularity of these DJs led to the opening of Japan’s first dedicated EDM club, Cross Fade in Shibuya, in 1994. Cross Fade would go on to become one of the most influential clubs in Japan’s EDM history, helping to launch the careers of many DJs and producers who are still active today.

In the years since Cross Fade’s debut, EDM has continued to grow in popularity in Japan. Today, there is a vibrant House and techno scene in Tokyo, with many world-renowned DJs and producers regularly performing at clubs across the city.

The current state of electronic dance music in Japan

In recent years, electronic dance music has become extremely popular in Japan. Numerous music festivals are now being held in various cities across the country, and the number of EDM fans is on the rise. However, the current state of EDM in Japan is not without its problems. Let’s take a look at the current state of electronic dance music in Japan.

The popularity of Japanese electronic dance music

In recent years, electronic dance music (EDM) has exploded in popularity in Japan. Clubs and festivals dedicated to the genre are now common, and EDM artists from around the world are regularly headlining shows in the country.

This growth has been driven in part by the increasing popularity of international EDM festivals such as Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland, which have helped to raise awareness of the genre among Japanese fans. In addition, a number of Japanese EDM artists have achieved success both at home and abroad, further boosting the genre’s profile.

As EDM continues to grow in popularity, it is likely that more Japanese fans will be exposed to the genre and that more clubs and festivals dedicated to EDM will be established in the country. This growth is sure to provide an boost to the already thriving Japanese music scene.

The influence of Japanese electronic dance music

Since the 1990s, electronic dance music (EDM) has been growing in popularity around the world. In recent years, Japan has also become a major player in the EDM scene, with numerous clubs and festivals dedicated to the genre.

However, Japanese EDM is not just a clone of Western styles; it has its own unique sound and culture. Japanese producers often incorporate traditional instruments and structures into their music, giving it a distinctive flavor.

In recent years, Japanese EDM has begun to make an impact on the global stage. In 2015, DJ Kentaro won the Red Bull Music 3Style Championship, becoming the first Asian artist to ever take home the title. Kentaro’s victory showcased the strength of Japanese DJs to the world, and proved that Japanese EDM is a force to be reckoned with.

As EDM continues to grow in popularity around the globe, Japan will likely play an increasingly important role in shaping its sound and culture.


It is safe to say that electronic dance music enjoy a fair amount of popularity in Japan. This is evident from the number of clubs and festivals that are held in the country, as well as the number of Japanese EDM artists who have found success both at home and abroad. While the scene is still relatively small compared to other genres, it is clear that EDM has a devoted following in Japan.

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