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Japanese Bands: Best Japanese Rock Bands of All Time

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Ray has been an online music writer for over four years. Having sung in multiple competitions as a youth, he has a passion for the art.

Japanese Bands: Best Japanese Rock Bands From Different Places of Japan

Japanese Bands: Best Japanese Rock Bands From Different Places of Japan

1. The Gazette

Genres: Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, NU Metal, Industrial Metal, Metalcore

Year Formed: 2002

Members: Ruki, Uruha, Aoi, Reita, Kai, Yune

Facts About The Gazette

  • The Gazette is a Japanese band from Kanagawa, Japan, currently signed under Sony Music Records.
  • The band is a visual kei metal Japanese band.
  • They are one of the most popular bands in the industry with numerous best-selling acts.
  • The band was originally a trio composing of Ruki, Reita, and Uruha.
  • The Gazette’s first single was entitled Wakaremichi.

Albums: Disorder (2004), Nil (2006), Stacked Rubbish (2007), Dim (2009), Toxic (2011), Division (2012), Beautiful Deformity (2013), Dogma (2015), Ninth (2018)

2. X-Japan

Genres: Rock, Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Power Metal, Glam Metal, Progressive Metal, Symphonic Metal

Year Formed: 1982

Members: Yoshiki, Toshi, Pata, Heath, Sugizo, Terry, Tomo, Atsushi, Eddie, Hally, Zen/Xenon, Jun/Shu, Hikaru, Kerry, Satoru, Isao, Taiji, Hide

Facts About X-Japan

  • X-Japan is a Japanese rock band from Tateyama, Chiba.
  • X-Japan’s main genre is Power Metal or Speed Metal with heavy symphonic elements.
  • Aside from The Gazette, X-Japan was also one of the first batches of Japanese acts to achieve mainstream Japanese music industry success.
  • Every album release of X-Japan is a breakthrough success since 1988.

Albums: Vanishing Vision (1988), Blue Blood (1989), Jealousy (1991), Art of Life (1993), Dahlia (1996)

3. Laruku

Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock, Post-Punk

Year Formed: 1991

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Members: Hyde, Ken, Tetsuya, Yukihiro, Hiro, Pero, Sakura

Facts About Laruku

  • Laruku is a popular Japanese quintessential rock band from Osaka, Japan.
  • Laruku, sometimes called the L'Arc-en-Ciel, was the first Japanese band to headline at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
  • Laruku ranked #58 on the Top 100 Japanese Pop Musicians by HMV Japan, a U.K. based music and film retailer.

Albums: Dune (1993), Tierra (1994), Heavenly (1995), True (1996), Heart (1998), Ark (1999), Ray (1999), Real (2000), Smile (2004), Awake (2005), Kiss (2007), Butterfly (2012), P'unk Is Not Dead (2012)

4. One Ok Rock

Genres: Alternative Rock, Power Pop, Post-Hardcore, Pop-Punk, Post-Grunge, Emo

Year Formed: 2005

Members: Takahiro Moriuchi, Toru Yamashita, Ryota Kohama, Tomoya Kanki, Alexander Reimon Onizawa, Yu Koyanagi

Facts About One Ok Rock

  • One Ok Rock is a Japanese band from Tokyo, Japan, who plays various music styles from alternative rock to pop-rock.
  • The group name comes from the time expression “one o’clock,” when the band practices their music on weekends.
  • One Ok Rock is one of the Japanese bands that produces both Japanese and English songs.
  • The band won the Eastern Breakthrough Male Band Award at the Classic Rock Roll of Honor Awards and the Best International Band at the Rock Sound Awards in 2017.
  • One Ok Rock won the Best Japanese Act Award at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2016.
  • Some of the most successful works of the band were “Answer is Near” (アンサイズニア), “The Beginning,” and “Be the Light.”

Albums: Zeitakubyō (2007), Beam of Light (2008), Kanjō Effect (2008), Niche Syndrome (2010), Zankyo Reference (2011), Jinsei×Boku= (2013), 35xxxv (2015), Ambitions (2017), Eye of the Storm (2019)

5. RC Succession

Genres: Blues Rock, Folk Rock, Glam Rock, Rhythm and Blues

Year Formed: 1968

Members: Kiyoshiro Imawano, Kazuo Kobayashi, Reichi Nakaido, Hirofumi Kasuga, Rei Atsumi, Kenchi Haren, Kozo Niida, Ginji Ogawa, Gee2Woo

Facts About RC Succession

  • RC Succession is one of the most influential Japanese bands formed in Tokyo, Japan.
  • RC Succession, one of Japan's longest-running bands, reached the 16th spot on HMV Japan's Top 100 Japanese Pop Artists in 2003.
  • RC Succession's 1988 cover album Covers peaked at #41 on the 100 Greatest Japanese Rock Albums of All Time.
  • The band members don't disclose their band name's true origin, but according to some, it is a mispronunciation of an in-joke among the band members.

Albums: Shoki no RC Succession (1972), Tanoshii Yube Ni (1972), Single Man (1976), Rhapsody (1980), Please (1980), Blue (1981), Beat Pops (1982), OK (1983), King of Live (1983), Feel So Bad (1984), Heart Ace (1985), the TEARS OF a CLOWN (1986), Marvy (1988), Covers (1988), Cobra No Nayami (1988), Baby a Go Go (1990)

6. Dadaroma

Genres: Metalcore

Year Formed: 2014

Members: Yoshiatsu, Takashi, Tomo, Ryohei

Facts About Dadaroma

  • Dadaroma is a Japanese visual kei band from Tokyo under Timely Records.
  • Dadaroma made a comeback in late 2018 with a new drummer after their break in mid-2018 due to Yusuke’s health issues.
  • The band disbanded on the 20th of May 2020.
  • Dadaroma produced one studio album and five mini-albums from 2015 to 2018.

Albums: Dadaism #1 (2015), Dadaism #2 (2016), Stanczyk (2016)

7. Dir En Grey

Genres: Progressive Metal, Alternative Metal, Death Metal, Gothic Metal, Nu Metal, Avant-garde Metal

Year Formed: 1997

Members: Kaoru, Kyo, Die, Shinya, Toshiya

Facts About Dir En Grey

  • Dir En Grey is a Japanese heavy metal band under Firewall Division formed from Osaka, Japan.
  • Dir En Grey maintained their dramatic image in their performances.
  • The band revealed that they don’t want to convey a black or white music image, so they picked grey.
  • They have produced a lot of stylistic changes in the genre throughout the years.

Albums: Gauze (1999), Macabre (2000), Kisou (2002), Vulgar (2003), Withering to Death (2005), The Marrow of a Bone (2007), Uroboros (2008), Dum Spiro Spero (2011), Arche (2014), The Insulated World (2018)

8. Deviloof

Genres: Deathcore, Metalcore, Rock Music

Year Formed: 2015

Members: Keisuke, Ray, Daiki, Ryuya, Seiya, Hiroto

Facts About Deviloof

  • Deviloof is a Japanese visual kei band that focuses on violent, brutal, and fast performances.
  • Deviloof is a Japanese band under 9th Records.
  • Deviloof is a visual kei band debuted in Osaka, Japan.
  • The band referred to themselves as the most brutal band due to their violent and powerful vocals.
  • Deviloof revealed that their band name means an omittance of devil’s proof.

Albums: Purge (2016), Devil’s Proof (2017)

9. Dimlim

Genres: Rock Music

Year Formed: 2017

Members: Sho, Retsu, Hiroshi, Issei, Ryuya, Tsubasa, Taishi

Facts About Dimlim

  • Dimlim is a Japanese visual kei rock band under the label DUM.
  • Dimlim’s biggest influences are Dir En Grey, The Gazette, Bring Me the Horizon, Erra, Periphery, and vocalist Kyo, a Japanese musician, lyricist, and poet.
  • Dimlim’s albums in 2017 and 2018 charted on the Oricon Chart.

Albums: Various (2017), Chedoara (2017), Misc (2020)

10. B’z

Genres: Hard Rock, Pop Rock, Blues Rock, New Wave, J-Pop

Year Formed: 1988

Members: Tak Matsumoto, Koshi Inaba

Facts About B’z

  • B’z is a Japanese rock duo consisting of Takahiro “Tak” Matsumoto and Koshi Inaba.
  • B’z is an energetic hard rock band known to produce hard rock and pop-rock ballads.
  • The band is one of the best-selling music artists in Japan and the world.
  • B’z produced numerous No. 1 singles and albums on the Oricon Music Charts.
  • The band sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
  • HMV Japan considered B’z as one of the most important Japanese pop acts in 2003.
  • The band got the Guinness World Record for Best-Selling Album Act in Japan in 2003.

Albums: B’z (1988), Off the Lock (1989), Break Through (1990), Risky (1990), In the Life (1991), Run (1992), The 7th Blues (1994), Loose (1995), Survive (1997), Brotherhood (1999), Eleven (2000), Green (2002), Big Machine (2003), The Circle (2005), Monster (2006), Action (2007), Magic (2009), C’mon (2011), Epic Day (2015), Dinosaur (2017), New Love (2019)

11. Boowy

Genres: Power Pop, Post-Punk, New Wave, Punk Rock

Year Formed: 1981

Members: Kyosuke Himuro, Tomoyasu Hotei, Tsunematsu Matsui, Makoto Takahashi, Mamoru Kimura, Kazuaki Fukasawa, Atsushi Moroboshi

Facts About Boowy

  • Boowy is a legendary Japanese rock band from Gunma, Japan.
  • Boowy was the very first male artist to have three #1 albums on the Oricon Music Chart in a single year.
  • Boowy was hailed the Artist of the Year at the 1989 Japan Gold Disc Awards.
  • HMV Japan ranked Boowy at #22 on the 100 Most Important Japanese Pop Acts in 2003.

Albums: Moral (1982), Instant Love (1983), Just a Hero (1986), Beat Emotion (1986), Psychopath (1987)

12. Malice Mizer

Genres: Gothic Rock, Neoclassical Darkwave, Synthpop, Art Rock

Year Formed: 1992

Members: Mana, Közi, Yu~ki, Gaz, Tetsu, Gackt, Kami, Klaha

Facts About Alice Mizer

  • Malice Mizer is a Japanese visual kei rock band known for their classical French and Gothic influences.
  • Malice Mizer became popular with their live performances because of their lavish historical costumes and extravagant stage set-ups.
  • Malice Mizer is one of the big four visual kei bands in Japan.

Albums: Memoire (1994), Voyage Sans Retour (1996), Merveilles (1998), Bara no Seidou (2000)

13. Hide

Genres: Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal, Industrial Rock

Year Formed: 1964

Co-members: Kazuhiko Inada, Toshiya Matsukawa, Hiroshi Watanabe, Satoshi Miyawaki, Kazuhito Iwaike

Facts About Hide

  • Hideto Matsumoto, better known as Hide, is a Japanese musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer from Kanagawa, Japan.
  • Hideto Matsumoto was the lead guitarist of the Japanese rock band X-Japan. He started his full-time solo career from 1993 onwards.
  • Hide sold millions of albums during his X-Japan career and solo career.

Albums: Hide Your Face (1994), Psyence (1996), Ja, Zoo (1998)

14. The Pillows

Genres: Alternative Rock, J-Pop

Year Formed: 1989

Members: Sawao Yamanaka, Yoshiaki Manabe, Shinichirou Sato

Facts About The Pillows

  • The Pillows is a Japanese alternative rock band from Hokkaido, Japan.
  • The Pillows is one of the best known Japanese groups abroad.
  • The band is popular with their soundtrack to the FLCL OVA series, a Japanese animated series.

Albums: Moon Gold (1991), White Incarnation (1992), Kool Spice (1994), Living Field (1995), Please Mr. Lostman (1997), Little Busters (1998), Runners High (1999), Happy Bivouac (1999), Smile (2001), Thank You, My Twilight (2002), Penalty Life (2003), Good Dreams (2004), My Foot (2006), Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up! (2007), Pied Piper (2008), OOPArts (2009), Horn Again (2011), Trial (2012), Moondust (2014), Stroll and Roll (2016), Nook in the Brain (2017), Rebroadcast (2018), FooL on CooL generation (2018)

15. D’espairsRay

Genres: Industrial Metal, Nu Metal, Alternative Metal, Gothic Metal

Year Formed: 1999

Members: Hizumi, Karyu, Zero, Tsukasa

Facts About D’espairsRay

  • D’espairsRay is a Japanese visual kei rock band, also known as the Animalmania.
  • Some of the countries D’espairsRay toured were Europe and North America.
  • The band disbanded in December 2010 due to Hizumi’s throat troubles.

Albums: Coll: set (2005), Mirror (2007), Redeemer (2009), Monsters (2010)

16. Luna Sea

Genres: Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Punk Rock

Year Formed: 1986

Members: J, Inoran, Sugizo, Shinya, Ryuichi

Facts About Luna Sea

  • Luna Sea, also known as Lunacy, is a Japanese band from Kanagawa, Japan.
  • Luna Sea is one of the most successful Japanese bands in the visual kei movement, popular with their costumes and make-up.
  • They placed at #90 on HMV Japan’s list of 100 Most Important Japanese Pop Acts in 2003.
  • The band’s tenth album Cross became Luna Sea’s first top album on Billboard, Japan.

Albums: Luna Sea (1991), Image (1992), Eden (1993), Mother (1994), Style (1996), Shine (1998), Lunacy (2000), A Will (2013), Luv (2017), Cross (2019)

17. Buck Tick

Genres: Alternative Rock, Industrial Rock, Gothic Rock, Post-Punk, Punk Rock

Year Formed: 1983

Members: Atsushi Sakurai, Hisashi Imai, Hidehiko Hoshino, Yutaka Higuchi, Toll Yagami, Araki

Facts About Buck Tick

  • Buck Tick is a Japanese rock band from Fujioka, Gunma Japan, formed in 1983.
  • In their 30 years in the business, Buck Tick produced various musical genres, including punk rock, gothic rock, and industrial rock.
  • Within three decades, Buck Tick produced 22 chart-topping albums.
  • Buck Tick is one of the founders of the visual kei movement in Japan.

Albums: Hurry Up Mode (1987), Sexual XXXXX! (1987), Seventh Heaven (1988), Taboo (1989), Aku no Hana (1990), Kurutta Taiyou (1991), Darker Than Darkness -Style 93- (1993), Six/Nine (1995), Cosmos (1996), Sexy Stream Liner (1997), One Life, One Death (2000), Kyokutou I Love You (2002), Mona Lisa Overdrive (2003), Juusankai Wa Gekkou (2005), Tenshi no Revolver (2007), Memento Mori (2009), Razzle Dazzle (2010), Yume Miru Uchuu (2012), Arui wa Anarchy (2014), Atom Miraiha No.9 (2016), No.0 (2018), Abracadabra (2020)

18. Spitz

Genres: Rock, Power Pop

Year Formed: 1987

Members: Masamune Kusanol, Tetsuya Miwa, Akihiro Tamura, Tatsuo Sakiyama

Facts About Spitz

  • Spitz is a Japanese rock band from Tokyo, Japan, formed in 1987.
  • Spitz produced 16 studio albums and sold more than 20.8 million copies worldwide in 2013.
  • Some of the band’s popular songs are “Robinson,” “Cherry,” and “Soramotoberuhazu.”

Albums: Spitz (1991), Namae o Tsukete Yaru (1991), Hoshi no Kakera (1992), Crispy! (1993), Sora no Tobikata (1994), Hachimitsu (1995), Indigo Chiheisen (1996), Fake Fur (1998), Hayabusa (2000), Mikazuki Rock (2002), Souvenir (2005), SazanamiCD (2007), Togemaru (2010), Chiisana Ikimono (2013), Mikke (2019)

19. Lynch

Genres: Metalcore, Alternative Metal, Nu Metal

Year Formed: 2004

Members: Hazuki, Reo, Asanao, Yusuke, Akinori

Facts About Lynch

  • Lynch is one of the visual kei Japanese bands formed in 2004.
  • The band revealed that their music concept is “uniting heavy music with beautiful melodies.”
  • Lynch’s official fans club name is Shadows.
  • Lynch is a metal band from Nagoya, Japan, under King Records.

Albums: greedy dead souls (2005), THE AVOIDED SUN (2007), THE BURIED (2007), SHADOWS (2009), I BELIEVE IN ME (2011), INFERIORITY COMPLEX (2012), GALLOWS (2014), D.A.R.K. -In the name of evil- (2015), AVANTGARDE (2016), XIII (2018), ULTIMA (2020)

20. Jiluka

Genres: Metal Rock

Year Formed: 2013

Members: Ricko, Sena, Boogie, Zyean

Facts About Jiluka

  • Jiluka is a Japanese band from Tokyo, Japan, formed under DPR Japan in 2013.
  • The band initially disbanded when the drummer Jail departed.
  • “Screamer” is the band’s most popular single, released in February 2015.

Albums: Brave Agonistic Letters Under Segregation (2015), Destrieb (2015)

21. Nazare

Genres: Heavy Metal

Year Formed: 2018

Members: Mio, Yoh, Uta, Issei

Facts About Nazare

  • Nazare is a Japanese visual kei band formed in 2018.
  • Nazare’s music promotes heavy metal music with overwhelming visuals and audio resonating from their songs.
  • Some of Nazare’s popular tracks are “IDEAL,” “Nemophila,” and “Koufukuron.”

Albums: Nemophilia (2020), Jinqai (2019), Jinqai Beyond (2019)

22. Razor

Genres: Metalcore

Year Formed: 2016

Members: Ryoga, Tsurugi, Kouryu, Iza, Nikky, Tetsuya

Facts About Razor

  • Razor is a Japanese visual kei band formed in 2016 in Tokyo, Japan.
  • The band performed their first live performance at Zepp Tokyo.
  • The band’s members are an assembly from different Japanese bands such as Born and Sadie.
  • Ryoga revealed that the band’s name originates from the type of music they are releasing, comparing it to a razor.

Albums: Red Invisible (2016), The Core (2017), Knot Invisible (2018), Sennen no Shirabe (2019), Okite (2020)

23. Acme

Genres: Metal Core, Alternative Rock

Year Formed: 2017

Members: Shogo, Chisa, Rikito, Hal

Facts About Acme

  • Acme is a Japanese visual kei band popular with their fancy traditional Japanese outfits and make-up. They believe that this dressing-up reflects every individual’s character.
  • Acme had their first overseas performance at Anime Milwaukee 2019, held at the Wisconsin Center.
  • One of Acme’s most popular singles is “Wonderful World,” gaining over one million plays on Spotify.

Albums: Senkou (2017), We Are Visual Kei (2020)

24. Asian Kung-Fu Generation

Genres: Alternative Rock Indie Rock, Pop Punk, Power Pop

Year Formed: 1996

Members: Masafumi Gotoh, Kensuke Kita, Takahiro Yamada, Kiyoshi Ijichi

Facts About Asian Kung-Fu Generation

  • Asian Kung-Fu Generation is one of the most successful Japanese bands formed in Yokohama, Japan, in 1996.
  • The unique about this group is that they started as a college band until they released their own singles and albums sung in English.
  • The band won the Best Anime Theme Song at the 2007 American Anime Awards for their song entitled “Rewrite.”
  • The band snatched the Revisited Award at the 2017 CD Shop Awards.
  • Asian Kung-Fu Generation won the New Artist of the Year Award and Rock & Pop Album of the Year at the Japan Gold Disc Awards in 2004 and 2005.

Albums: Kimi Tsunagi Five M (2003), Sol-fa (2004), Fanclub (2006), World World World (2008), Surf Bungaku Kamakura (2008), Magic Disk (2010), Landmark (2012), Wonder Future (2015), Sol-fa 2016 (2016), Hometown (2018)

25. Moi dix Mois

Genres: Gothic Metal, Symphonic Metal, Industrial Metal,

Year Formed: 2002

Members: Mana, Seth, Sugiya, Hayato, Ryux, Juka, Kazuno, Tohru, K†

Facts About Moi Dix Mois

  • Moi Dix Mois is one of the best gothic Japanese bands founded by Mana in 2002.
  • The French translation for the band’s name is “Me Ten Months.”
  • The band experienced multiple lineup changes with guitarist and songwriter, the only constant member.

Albums: Dix Infernal (2003), Nocturnal Opera (2004), Beyond the Gate (2006), Dixanadu (2007), D+Sect (2010)

Continuation List of the Best Japanese Bands

Best Japanese Bands of All Time

Japanese BandsYear FormedGenres

26. Plastic Tree


Alternative Rock, Shoegaze, Dream Pop, Garage Rock, Noise Pop

27. Kagrra


Rock, Traditional Music

28. 12012


Alternative Metal, Hard Rock, Pop Rock, Progressive Metal, Metalcore, NU Metal, Hardcore Punk

29. GLAY


Pop Rock, Power Pop, Progressive Rock

30. Janna Da Arc


Pop Rock, Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Progressive Rock

31. Ellegarden


Pop Punk, Punk Rock, Alternative Rock

32. Rentrer En Soi


Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock, Gothic Rock, Metalcore

33. The Back Horn


Indie Rock, Alternative Rock, Post-Grunge

34. Pierrot


Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Gothic Rock, Industrial Rock

35. D


Symphonic Metal, Progressive Metal, Folk Metal, Melodic Metalcore, Gothic Metal, Hard Rock

36. Maximum the Hormone


Avant-Garde Metal, NU Metal, Hardcore Punk, Metalcore, Alternative Metal, Funk Metal

37. Mono


Post-Rock, Contemporary Classical

38. Bull Zeichen 88



39. Sim


Alternative Metal, NU Metal, Post-Hardcore, Metalcore, Ska Punk, Reggae Rock

40. AA=


Japanese Pop

41. Mucc


Alternative Metal, NU Metal, Industrial Metal, Metalcore, Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Dance-Rock, Pop Rock, Punk Rock

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Ray

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