It’s fitting that Tokyo music journalist and photographer Koichi Hanafusa is editor-in-chief of Fujirockers.org—the Fuji Rock Festival’s official fan site. He has been a staunch supporter of the fest since its birth. And without him, Fuji Rock might never have even been conceived.
Enamored with music since his early teens, as a high-school student Hanafusa volunteered at Osaka’s long-running Haru Ichiban festival, before promoting gigs at university.
Keen to learn the language, Hanafusa moved to England in 1980 for two years.
“There were only a few Japanese people in the town I was living and and none of them were pretty ladies, so I didn’t need to speak any Japanese,” he quips, with his trademark humor.
While in England, Hanafusa consumed every music event he could, including the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts—which blew him away.
“That was a turning point in my life,” explains Hanafusa. “After that, I wanted to tell everyone I knew about the experiences I had there.”
After returning to Japan, Hanafusa’s heart remained in England—specifically on a certain piece of farmland in the West Country.
“In 1984, I told my boss, ‘My mom is sick. Can I have a few days off?’ My mom was fine. I wanted time off to go to Glastonbury again.”
That visit completed Hanafusa’s transformation into a music journalist. He started writing about the festival for every Japanese publication that would publish him.
That same year he met Masa Hidaka, from local promoter Smash. Impressed by Hanafusa’s tales, Hidaka asked Hanafusa to take him to the famed event.
“I heard Masa had thought, ‘Shit, I want to do something like this.’ People told me he started looking for a site for Fuji Rock after we came back from Glastonbury.”
For his part, Hanafusa would go on to write books, produce records, and host a weekly music segment on TV show Funky Tomato. He and Hidaka were sometime collaborators on gigs and DJ parties.
At the first Fuji Rock in 1997, Hanafusa reported live from the festival and posted stories and photos on the festival site.
“There were three of us doing the work. We wanted to share our experiences with those who couldn’t make it or were going to arrive later.”
As Fuji Rock grew, Hanafusa created Fujirockers.org, a site promoting the festival’s culture all year round, and Fuji Rock Express, which publishes reviews and reports during the event. It also acts as an archive for all previous festival info.
Now Fujirockers.org and Fuji Rock Express have more than 50 Japanese- and English-speaking staff sharing insights and info leading up to the fest, and giving folks the lowdown on what’s going on around Fuji Rock’s massive grounds.
Hanafusa hopes the sites might inspire people in Japan and overseas to experience Fuji Rock for themselves.
“People should come enjoy the fresh air, nice people, lovely vibes, great music, and delicious food,” Hanafusa says. “It’s boring to just check your bloody computer monitor all weekend long. Come be a part of this with us.”
- Koichi Hanafusa also runs www.smashingmag.com, one of Japan’s top bilingual music sites