Fuji Rock Festival!
Fuji Rock: A Guide On How To Make It Happen

Fuji Rock: A Guide On How To Make It Happen

The next Fuji Rock Festival will be on July 27, 28, and 29, 2019. For sure you’ve already decided that you don’t want to miss the next one regardless who’s playing. But you’ve still got some questions. Those questions are probably what led you here.

Fuji Rock Festival 2018
This guy   

If you’re thinking about giving up because all the sites you’re finding so far are in Japanese, I will tell you that Fuji Rock is totally doable knowing zero Japanese. You won’t also need to spend extra on a travel agency, a translator, or making a long distance call to Japan just to have your questions answered. I mean, sure, if you’re loaded. But the thrill is in the hunt, don’t you think?

Our first Fuji Rock 2018 was all thanks to the internet and first-hand tips from dear friends who have been to Japan (Mai, Dani, Mica) or are residing there (RB and Jen). I didn’t know anyone who had been to the festival, unfortunately – but I really wanted to go and lack of information wasn’t a valid reason not to go.

It took a crazy amount of due research, patience, and asking. You can do that, too. Or just read on for the cliff notes. Don’t worry, we got ‘dis!

First Things First: Visas and Flights

Fuji Rock Festival 2018
Narita International Airport, Japan

Visa (skip if you know your nationality doesn’t require this)

If you’re a Philippine citizen, you would need a visa to enter Japan. You’re probably wondering if you can state Fuji Rock Festival as your reason for travelling. Yes, you can. And you should. Since I was going to the festival with my boyfriend, Cali, I applied with him. We prepared the exact same travel itinerary outlining how many days we were going to be in and out of the festival and applied at the embassy on July 1, 2018, around 3 weeks prior our departure. We got our passports and visas within 4 working days.

Flights (skip if you have flexible travel plans)

The festival was from July 27-29. We arrived morning of July 26 and left evening of July 31. This gave us ample time to take the train to Echigo-yuzawa Station (Fuji Rock jump-off point) on July 26 and do a bit of Tokyo sight-seeing after the festival dates, all without feeling hurried. We chose to miss the Fuji Rock opening party on the night of July 26, because we preferred staying in and resting for an early run the next day (priorities!).  I heard there were fireworks. Your priorities might be different. If this is your first time in Japan, you’d probably want to stay longer than we did. It was my first time, but I had work and stuff – the whole adulting thing – so we jetted back home right after the festival.

Next: Train Tickets

Should you buy a JR East Rail Pass or a JR Single Ride Ticket?

Deep breath. Here we go.

Fuji Rock Festival 2018
The JR East Pass for the Nagana, Niigata area

Fuji Rock is held in the Niigata Prefecture, which is a bit ways off from the capital of Tokyo. It is accessible by car, bus, or train. Train was our chosen mode of transportation not only because it was cheap for the convenience it offered, but because we’ve been told taking the Japan Rail (“JR”) trains is a pretty freaking awesome experience by itself (it was!).

Klook.com is your friend

A month before Fuji Rock, we purchased a 5-day flexible JR East Rail Pass (Nagano, Niigata area) from Klook.com. There is a similarly named JR East Rail Pass for the Tohoku area – you do not want to get that pass, because – let us be clear – the festival is not there.

We picked up our Pass at the Narita Airport JR Office on the day of our arrival. The festival happens over a 3-day period so this 5-day pass was perfect for us to use to go to and from the festival and back to Tokyo. JSYK, downtown Tokyo is an hour away from Narita International Airport. The Pass includes free use of the Narita Express (N’Ex), the high-speed train connecting Narita International Airport to downtown Tokyo.

Fuji Rock Festival 2018
Aboard the Narita Express (N’Ex) bound to downtown Tokyo

The JR East Rail Pass is a 5-day flexible pass. This means that if you pick up your pass and activate it today, then today is your first of five day of use. Your second day of use is the next time you use it, not necessarily tomorrow. The only catch is that it is only valid for 15 days from first use. Not bad if you ask me. In our case, there were hardly any wasted days because the Pass wasn’t considered “used” while we were in the festival for 3 days.

Which train station do I get off at?

Assuming you want to arrive a day before the festival and leave a day after the festival, these are the trains you need to take:

  1. Train from Tokyo Station (or wherever you’re originating from) to Echigo-yuzawa Station on July 26
  2. Train from Echigo-yuzawa Station to Tokyo Station (or wherever your next destination is after the festival) on July 30
Fuji Rock Festival 2018
Welcome banners at the Echigo-yuzawa Station

Echigo-yuzawa is only one of the jump-off places to Fuji Rock Festival. I say “one of” because there are actually other places to stay. However, we won’t get into that here. I’ll assume that like most you would want to book a hostel at Yuzawa, the town where the Echigo-yuzawa Station stands. Even if you plan to camp in the festival grounds, you need to stop at Echigo-yuzawa Station, because the shuttle that will take you to the festival starts there. Capische?

With or without a JR East Rail Pass, you have to reserve your train tickets. How do you reserve a ticket?

You need to reserve your actual train tickets, with or without a pass. Two ways you can do it. One, you can do it online at least a month before you arrive in Japan – with or without a Pass. Two, when you arrive in Japan – again, with or without a Pass.

Having a JR East Rail Pass does not guarantee you a seat inside the lovely train on your preferred times, because life is not like that. You need to go to any Japan Rail train station office in this list and approach a JR Officer. First, you would show the JR Officer your Pass, then tell them that you need a ticket to the train stations listed above (scroll up). Because the train to Echigo-yuzawa is covered by the Pass, you need not pay for anything else. You’re just getting the ticket to ensure your seat.

You can reserve the tickets on your departure day itself, but I think that’s pushing it. The smarter thing to do is reserve both tickets a month before you arrive in Japan. Then, pick up your JR Rail Pass and pick up your reserved tickets on your first day in Japan.

So I can survive without a JR East Rail Pass, then?

That’s correct. The key thing you’re foregoing without this Pass is convenience. Sure, you would save about 15% if you purchased single train tickets instead of getting a Pass, but 15% to me is negligible compared to the convenience of having a Rail Pass.

Without a JR East Rail Pass (Total cost: Y13,500):

  • Train to Echigo-yuzawa (Y4,500)
  • Train to Tokyo (Y4,500)
  • Look for the right vendo. Figure out how to use vendo (not so hard, but initially confusing). Pressure from guy behind in line if it’s rush hour. Use ticket machine to enter. With all your luggage and/or camping gear, this is just going to be insane.
  • Some vendos only accept cash
  • Pre-book and reserve tickets up to 1 month before date
  • Train from/to airport (Total cost: Y4,000)
  • Downtown Tokyo JR train tickets for sight-seeing (Total cost: Y500~)

With a JR East Rail Pass (Total cost: Y17,000)

  • Train to Echigo-yuzawa included
  • Train to Tokyo included
  • Look for the JR Express lane and show your pass to a human being (JR Officer) to whom you can eve ask questions to
  • Accepts credit card
  • Pre-book and reserve tickets up to 1 month before date
  • Train from/to airport included
  • Downtown Tokyo JR train tickets for sight-seeing included
Fuji Rock Festival 2018
Me in front of Tokyo Station. Can’t tell from the looks of it, but this station serves about 500,000 passengers daily!

Would the JR Officer understand English?


Do the ticket machines offer English translation?


Can I take the train to Echigo-yuzawa/Fuji Rock on the first day of the concert?

Yes, you can, but I would say don’t do it for your sanity. I’ll explain why in my next post.

For now – ask away!

Next: More tips on train timing, booking hostels, exchanging Fuji Rock tickets, and festival survival nitty-gritty (liquor, food, bathroom, clothing).


Fuji Rock Festival 2018
He did not think this through

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *