Popular Genres of Electronic Music in Japan

As you clubbing around Tokyo, chances are you’ll hear an assortment of upfront house music or EDM. However, there’s another scene which embraces more melodic sounds – offering an attractive contrast to bass-heavy genres.

Yasutaka Nakata (producer for Perfume and Kiyaripamiyupamiyu), under his personal project CAPSULE, creates heavy electro-house music inspired by Japanese culture as well as Touhou PC shoot-em-up games.


Techno is an electronic music genre characterized by rapid beats and heavy use of synthesizers. With its combination of ancient Japanese sounds and contemporary electronic landscapes, J-Techno makes an interesting addition to any musical palette – it deserves your consideration whether you’re an avid techno fan or just keen on exploring different realms musically.

J-Techno was initially inspired by European electronic music, yet quickly found its own style and identity. Its initial years saw intense drumming accompanied by unconventional synthesizer sounds; bands such as X Japan, Buck-Tick Luna Sea and Malice Mizer later popularized this style and helped launch visual kei movements that gained national and international acclaim.

J-Techno was at its zenith by the late ’90s. Artists such as Shinichi Atobe and Fumiya Tanaka established themselves as cutting edge producers, pioneering experimental music that combined razor sharp percussion with long buildups in experimental compositions that often carried political or cultural commentary.

Early 2000s saw J-Techno merge with other genres of pop and dance music to form the genre known as techno-kayo, which uniquely combined mainstream and experimental forms of music into one unique soundscape. Techno-kayo fuses traditional Japanese instruments, lyrics, and electronic dance music for an energetic yet dreamy experience.

Susumu Yokota, commonly known as Ebi, stands out for embracing other genres within Japanese techno. His 1994 release Zen fused ambient and house music with German techno to produce an auditory trip that transcended genre boundaries.

Ken Ishii is one of the stand-out producers from Japan’s J-Techno scene, known for his intelligent yet danceable J-Techno music since the early ’90s. Drawing inspiration from global sources like Detroit techno melodies and European banger sound design, but always sounding uniquely his own; his signature TR-909 drums and swirling hypnotic synths distinguish his music. Additionally, he stands as one of the few J-Techno artists to find success on Europe’s dance music scene!


Although techno was initially born in America and popularized across Europe, Japan has brought its own distinct flavor to it. Japan’s top producers and DJs like Ken Ishii, Yasutaka Nakata (CAPSULE), Polysics and Qrion have created distinctive Japanese-influenced variations on its core sounds; whether that means adding distinctive TR-909 drums, melodies or sound design into the mix.

In the 1970s, synth-pop bands and new wave groups were highly sought-after among young Japanese rock fans. Groups like C-C-B, Tokyo JAP and Akiko Yano became staples on the Japanese music scene with hits like “iPhone Bubbling,” which cleverly looped the iconic iPhone message alert sound. Furthermore, this period also witnessed visual kei bands such as X Japan, Luna Sea and Malice Mizer, who combined elements of rock with pop and electronica into one genre of their own style of rock music.

Nippon Hoso Kyokai, the Japanese broadcasting corporation, began experimenting with electronic music at this time. They established their own studio and hired composers such as Makato Moroi, Michiko Toyama, and Joji Yuasa to work on tape compositions; Yuasa’s piece “Aoi no Ue,” a musical drama for voice and tape, became immensely popular.

Motoi Sakuraba and Yuzo Koshiro’s musical talent has helped expand this genre with the rise of video gaming, providing soundtracks for popular titles like Tales of Symphonia, Dark Souls, Eternal Sonata Golden Sun Dragon Quest. Furthermore their works have received praise from progressive and trance titans Armin van Buuren Ilan Bluestone BT among others.

However, while stringent government regulations have affected Japan’s club culture in recent years, its electronic artists continue to thrive underground. Artists like YMO, Cornelius and Alunageorge push the limits of techno with experimental sounds while techno DJs such as Katsuya Miyake, Lemna and Wata Igarashi keep dancefloors moving with their powerful beats. And with fueiho laws being lifted in 2015, there looks like being bright prospects ahead for this scene.


J-Pop is a genre of Japanese popular music combining contemporary Western influences with traditional Japanese instruments to produce highly diverse results, from energetic pop songs to emotional ballads. Additionally, the use of traditional Japanese instruments adds depth and authenticity to this genre; for example Goose House’s “Hikarunara” uses soft vocals accompanied by acoustic instruments to create an emotive experience; ORbIT’s “Hana” seamlessly blends electronic elements with traditional Japanese instruments for an exciting and dynamic soundscape.

Pink Lady and Namie Amuro became household names during the 1990s thanks to Japanese pop music’s rising popularity; these artists would often wear revealing outfits and choreographed dance routines designed to attract female audiences. Their music also took influence from Western pop music; some would even cover popular American songs – this style of music known as kayokyoku (lyrics singing music).

Ayumi Hamasaki, commonly referred to by her stage name Ayumi, is widely considered the Queen of J-Pop music. Since bursting onto the scene in the early 1990s, many have coined her “Japanese Madonna.” Ayumi ranks amongst one of the best-selling artists ever; her albums have sold millions.

Idol culture is an integral component of Japanese pop culture. Idols, commonly young performers in their teens or early twenties, perform songs for fans while serving as role models characterized by cute feminine images known as kawaii. Furthermore, idols play an essential social function by adhering to morally and ethically appropriate behavior and setting an example.

Rising pop artists of the 2000s ushered in an exciting period in Japanese music. Experimentation with more modern genres such as hip hop and R&B helped introduce Japanese music to an international audience; J-Pop has become a worldwide phenomenon, boasting both loyal fan bases and growing market shares worldwide; its diverse cultural influences make it an indispensable component of global music industries.


Japan’s music scene offers something for every musical taste imaginable, whether that’s rock, metal or something entirely different. Japanese bands are becoming increasingly popular both domestically and abroad due to their distinct aesthetics; globalization platforms like Spotify have helped promote new bands while Babymetal and international superstar X Japan use these aesthetics effectively to gain attention and boost popularity.

Bow Wow and Loudness spearheaded the initial wave of Japanese metal bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s, adapting western hard rock sounds into unique Japanese metal styles. By playing live outside Japan in the 80s, this phenomenon became even more well known to Western fans.

Some Japanese bands later combined elements from various genres to form Group Sounds. This genre combined Appalachian folk music, psychedelic rock and mod sounds into its music while using clothing and fashion to express individual personalities – the Tempters, Tigers and Golden Cups being some of the more notable Group Sounds bands.

An additional factor influencing Japanese metal was the emergence of all-female bands. These all-female bands used their gender advantage to forge an entirely new genre of music. Many all-female metal bands became immensely popular; yet all departed from traditional sounds of metal music; some even changed names in order to survive. BABYMETAL remains one of the best-known all-female metal acts; however there are other female groups such as Dazzle Vision that made waves as well. Dazzle Vision lead singer Maiko could effortlessly switch between death growls and melodic warbles; making her one truly remarkable among her contemporaries.