Japanese indie, rock, and electronic music

10 great experimental rock bands from Japan

May 25 2008

The experimental rock genre is a place where the possibilities are almost limitless. Thanks to the universal language of the mostly instrumental music, bands jam across the globe and in Japan, there is an exceptionally vibrant scene.

Here’s a list of 10 great experimental rock bands from Japan, in no particular order. Whilst all can be classified under the ‘experimental’ umbrella, most play post-rock or math rock to varying degrees.


miaou is the trio of Tatsuki Hamasaki and sisters Mayumi and Hiromi Hasegawa. They formed in 1999. Their use of guitars, synths, Rhodes piano, and computers provide for their distinct and melodic sound.
Official Website
Official MySpace


toe is a dynamic quartet that’s music often delves into the realm of math rock. Thanks to releases like the book about my idle plot on a vague anxiety, toe stands as one of Japan’s most acclaimed instrumental groups.
Official Website
Official MySpace


mono are a Tokyo-based post-rock group that have found popularity on an international stage. Despite their name, their music is incredibly deep, consisting of layered guitars, strings, and more.
Official Website
Official MySpace

Sequence Pulse

Sequence Pulse are an experimental quartet with a lush, laidback sound where smooth synths often accompanying crisp guitars and more. They have released three full-length albums to date.
Official Website
Official MySpace

World’s End Girlfriend

World’s End Girlfriend is the work of one Katsuhiko Maeda. Maeda has experimented with all types of music since he was a child and although now more focused, World’s End Girlfriend is like his one big experiment.
Official Website
Official MySpace


Since their formation in 2004, té (pronounced ‘tay’) has made quite an impact in the world of post-rock. Their highly-anticipated debut album released in ’05 placed 10th on the Tower Record Japan charts.
Official Website
Official MySpace


LITE is a math rock quartet formed in Tokyo in 2003. A couple of their albums including their debut filmlets have been distributed in Europe and they toured in the UK in late 2007.
Official Website
Official MySpace


sleepy.ab are a shoegaze/dream pop band originally from Hokkaido. The “ab” in their name fittingly stands for “abstract”. Their standard use of vocals helps set them apart from those above.
Official Website
Official MySpace


eksperimentoj is a band that first got together in 2000. Their “sound art”, as they call it, is a unique synthesis of genres and influences. “eksperimentoj” means “experiments” in Esperanto.
Official Website
Official MySpace


downy is a dynamic group that have since disbanded. That being said, their experimental sound continue to have an impact. Former guitarist/vocalist Robin Aoki formed Dhal with Eugene Wakamikoto (of eksperimentoj) in 2003.
Unofficial MySpace

Got any favorites? If so, please share.


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  • rollo

    9 years ago (#)

    MONO’s playing in Singapore & Malaysia on the 3rd and 5th July resp.

    toe’s coming over in August too..

    come check them out if you’re in the region.



  • azz

    9 years ago (#)

    Wow. What a strange use of the term “experimental”…. and “best”

  • Mookie

    9 years ago (#)

    BORIS! Greatest experimental rock band ever, nevermind that they’re japanese. Try out Feedbacker, Pink, Rainbow, and their new one Smile…. such a fantastic discography

  • Twitted by owen_s

    8 years ago (#)

    […] This post was Twitted by owen_s – Real-url.org […]

  • Kyoto Joe

    7 years ago (#)

    I’m looking for some info on a really good (at least to me) album I bought while I was in Kyoto last winter (Jan-March 2010) but left in a Vietnamese taxi before I got home from my travels. I thought either the name of the band or the title of the album was Lama because that was the only English word on the cover, but I haven’t been able to find anything at all about any Japanese band or album by that name. The cover art was of a young girl in a kimono with some abstract/surrealist background art. The music wasn’t really comparable to anything else I’ve heard, even in these bands. I guess maybe if you took a little from miaou, té, and The Books, the last of which isn’t a Japanese band, but it a band that’s experimental maybe with slightly indie as well (not like the White Stripes, The Strokes, and the other mediocre indie bands; good ones like Beirut, Arcade Fire, and Asobi Seksu), and I would say this band I’m looking for also sounded slightly more indie to me. As a whole I’d call it a medium-low energy, fairly relaxing album with some definite Asian sounds to their songs. I don’t really know how else to describe it. Anyway, if anyone has any info on what band this might be I’d really appreciate the help. Thanks.

  • Zach

    5 years ago (#)

    what the heck? Where’s Te???

  • Billy Zurovec

    5 years ago (#)

    i really love intstrumental music since it is very soothing and relaxing. `

    Our own homepage

  • Gimm

    5 years ago (#)

    Good but not best
    Not even experimental
    From My point of view as Japanese

  • mregg

    4 years ago (#)

    Have to listen WORSA band

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