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The Fuji Rock Festival 2001 was held July 27,28 & 29th, at the Naeba Resort in the mountains of Northwest Japan, and it was a blast!! I was very happy to be able to attend with my wife this year. More than 100 bands and artists from around the world performed on six or seven stages and there was even a weird Circus from England. I couldn't cover the whole festival (it's very big) but we roamed around with 60,000 or so other (mainly Japanese) music fans. Headliners from the West included Neil Young, Eminem, Oasis, Patti Smith Group, DJ Tricky, Wilco Johnson, and many many more. Here are some views of the Festival.  

 

Elizabeth and I were dancing like monkeys at the Fuji Rock Fest 2001!!

 

The Festival is produced by Masa Hidaka and his company Smash Productions, but it is his ready smile and big, friendly personality that gives the Festival it's inspiration.

Tens of thousands of people camped out on the hillside during the Festival, but when they left on Monday, it was amazing how clean the area was, compared to other Festivals I've been to. Most people even carried little portable ashtrays so they didn't even leave a butt.

A clear stream ran through the Festival site and people would stop between shows to relax and wash up. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, with beautiful blue sky days and clear warm nights.

The main stage was very large with an average audience of about 40,000 people out front. There were also two other large stages and several smaller ones as well as a dance shed and a punk club space.

The Festival started with a ceremony dedicating the event to Joey Ramone. Masa asked Arturo Vega, the Ramones Art Director to bring one of his original Ramones stage backgrounds. Arturo also read a letter from the band. Joey's friend Lenny Kaye was there with the Patti Smith Group so he joined us onstage and said "Joey gave of himself to the world with love, so the world loves Joey" Then I read a letter to the fans from Joey's mother. It was a moving tribute followed by a rousing loud punk set by Japanese favorites Kemuri.

Eminen drew a noticeably younger crowd for his Sunday nite show.

The Patti Smith Group played a fast rocking set that had the audience on their feet cheering for more. Patti had such a good time she is hoping she can come back and play a long set on the "Field of Dreams" stage next year.

 

There was a large assortment of foods available from every kind of Japanese food to an international food court with savory French, English, Chinese, Italian and even Ethiopian treats, and it was all excellent!

Soloman brought some of his favorite recipes from his Tokyo based Ethiopian restaurant to the Festival. He served many meals all day long, and with his very friendly personality he kept his kitchen and bar open all night long as Masa's clubhouse. We had many a good laugh with him.

Even though there were 60.000 or more people around, the festival never seemed crowded, and we found many hidden corners to relax in. This cafe, in the Avalon Field section, next to the path to the Field of Dreams, served a selection of snacks and some special strong sake from Okinawa which we enjoyed several times.

In the evening many of the food stands had a DJ booth on top to attract a crowd. Unlike American festivals, alcohol was freely available at most of the stands and many people had a good time without abusing it. All during the festival people were getting drinks and something to eat as they danced to the music.

French record producer Marc Zermatti was at the festival, as he has been since it started five years ago. He is always looking for new groups but has a Frenchman's cynicism that has him criticizing everything all day and night, which was very amusing.

Jason Mayhall. head of Masa's Smash Productions London Office had lots of fun at the festival and on Saturday night he was DJ at the Smash barstand as the Smash staff and friends danced till dawn. In the inset photo he's seen in a more sober moment with his lovely wife Yuki.

Wilco Johnson played a set of Blues and was joined for his encore by Japanese Superockers Sheena and Makoto (of Sheena and the Rokkets)

Back in Tokyo the following week we went with Sheena and Makoto to see Rock & Roll Legend Bo Diddley at the Blue Note Club for a rousing set of the classics played by the originator!

While we were in Tokyo it was the night of the Tanabana festival, and my friend Dimond Yukai was a featured singer at the annual fireworks show at the Tokyo Stadium. It is a festival celebrating romance in mid-summer and it was great to see Yukai perform. We had a delicious dinner feast with him and his friends after the show. That's Yukai in the middle of the photo giving a thumbs up.

Before we left Tokyo, we had a chance to meet with the punk band Lolita !8, one of the best and hardest working punk bands in Japan

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