Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Sunday, 27 July 2008 10:35 UK

Japan's Glastonbury takes UK theme

Fuji Rock fan
This year's Fuji Rock festival has a British theme

By Brady Haran and Kylie Pentelow
BBC News, Fuji Rock Festival, Naeba, Japan

With Union flags fluttering at every turn, unpredictable weather and a line-up filled with UK bands, it seems like a typical British music festival.

Hard-Fi's Richard Archer
Hard-Fi are among the bands at this weekend's festival
But it's not - it is the 12th annual Fuji Rock Festival, held at Japan's Naeba resort, about 200km from Tokyo.

This year's festival has a British theme, celebrating the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the UK and Japan.

Union flags have been flying across the site, and many Japanese fans have got into the spirit with British-themed outfits over the three-day festival.

British acts including The Courteeners, Hard-Fi, Primal Scream and headliners Underworld shared the main stage with Japanese performers on Saturday.

But while the event is unashamedly based on Glastonbury, Fuji Rock is a totally different experience.

"It might be inspired by Glastonbury, but done in a Japanese way," says the festival's international organiser, Johnnie Fingers.

Fingers' real name is John Moylett, but he is better known to many as a founding member of The Boomtown Rats. He has been working in the Japanese music scene for 15 years, and has been part of the Fuji Rock team for six of them.

'Fuji experience'

Johnnie Fingers
Japanese people are surrounded by advertising and sponsorship, so we have tried to make this feel like a weekend away in the countryside
Organiser Johnnie Fingers
"We call it the Fuji experience. It is like Glastonbury, but has been perfected in that Japanese way," he says.

"The biggest difference is that is so clean. Everybody cleans up their own mess.

"It is also so secure and safe. People leave things out without worrying about theft."

Fingers adds Fuji Rock - named after the mountain which played host to the first festival in 1997 - has set itself apart by keeping sponsorship to a minimum, concentrating on the festival's spectacular setting in a steep mountain valley.

"Japanese people are so used to being surrounded by advertising and sponsorship, so we have tried to make this feel like a weekend away in the countryside," he explains.

The festival attracts a mainly Japanese crowd, with about 90% of revellers being local.

Local hero

Others make the journey from Singapore and China, while there is a small but vocal contingent of European, American and Australian fans.

Underworld's Karl Hyde
Underworld headlined Saturday night at the festival
Over half the bands are from the UK and US, with Primal Scream due back on the main stage again on Sunday, this time as headliners themselves.

They were a last-minute replacement for local folk music hero Imawano Kiyoshiro, whose long-awaited comeback from throat cancer was delayed due to further health problems.

A final question for Johnnie Fingers - has he persuaded any of his old Boomtown Rats bandmates to visit Fuji Rock yet?

He shakes his head: "Not yet. Bob Geldof was over here recently and we had dinner. It was the first time I'd seen him in 20 years - but he mainly wanted to talk about the G8."




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