Top 10 Best Japanese Rock Bands

No limitations. Put your favorite Japanese rock band here and vote for them. Rock/Punk, Rock/Pop, Rock/Visual Kei and similar genres are accepted.
The Top Ten
1 X Japan X Japan is a Japanese heavy metal band from Chiba, formed in 1982 by drummer Yoshiki and lead vocalist Toshi.

I discovered X Japan when Roger Taylor, the legendary member of Queen, the band I've been a fan of since childhood, recorded a song with Yoshiki. I decided to listen to them, bought some X Japan records, and was blown away. I'm from Russia and barely knew English at that time, not to mention Japanese, so I didn't understand a word they sang. But the strength of emotion and musical expression was so powerful, it impressed me deeply. I became a fan. They changed my life forever.

It was many years ago. I'm still a huge fan, except now I know all the lyrics. I've tried to listen to many Japanese bands since then. Many of them are great, but X Japan is definitely the best.

2 Gazette

The GazettE is by far my favorite band simply because their music touches me and moves me. They have the ability to make me happy, accompany me when I'm sad, cool down my anger, and just be fun to rock out to. It's the combination of vocals and instrumentation that makes the songs so touching.

Every member is so talented. Uruha's and Aoi's guitars, Reita's bass, Ruki's voice, and Kai's drums are just awesome. Their live performances are always amazing and prove their talent and dedication to what they create and do.

3 Dir en grey Dir En Grey is a Japanese heavy metal band formed in 1997 and currently signed to Firewall Div., a sub-division of Free-Will.

"I think that we have the courage to do what others are scared to do. I mean, musically we go beyond the format established elsewhere. Our visuals and videos are meticulous, outrageous, and grotesque. The whole identity of the band is unique. This is our strength. We motivate each other. The idea is to grow together, develop together, and continue to inspire each other with what we each bring to the band. It's definitely a plus. Also, most bands try to be friendly to people, to the media. This is not our case. We are not here to please anybody, and we have the courage to do what we want to do on every level." - Die

Need to say anything else?


I too discovered Scandal in 2009. I found them by accident on YouTube via a Japanese TV show with "Perfume" as guests. These four girls were there too, chatting with Perfume. They seemed so lively, copying Perfume's dance routine, and I thought they were just a schoolgirl fan club of Perfume (I don't speak Japanese).

A day later, while looking at a promo video of girls from Japan playing guitars, I realized, "Hey, those are the schoolgirls from the Perfume interview show." I checked out a YouTube video by this band, Scandal. As soon as the live show opened for the Best/One-man Live tour, and they hit the stage, hit those big chords, with bass and drums pounding it out, and the crowd chanting along with encouragement, Haruna yelled out something, and they went into the "Space Ranger" riff... I was gone. I sat there, mesmerized, watching with my jaw on the floor for almost the entire song. Then, at the end of the song, they powered to the finish with the closing chant... What the heck! I was hooked! I sat there for hours playing everything I could find by them live. All songs from the One-man Live Tour clips were great too. Now, in 2012, they have conquered Budokan.

Unbelievable little "rock-girl ninjas" they are. Someone should make a film about them. They are sensational! There will be no band anywhere on the planet as cute and talented as Scandal... ever! If they make a movie about these girls in the years to come and release it in English, Spanish, and French, it would have to be a worldwide hit. To my friends who tell me they are a gimmick band, I just ask them, "Name one all-female rock band, anywhere in the world from any era, that can play complex pop/rock songs so well, sing well, and perform a great show to large crowds." You can't? That's because there isn't one. The only conclusion: Scandal is without a doubt the best girl band in the history of this planet!

5 L'Arc~en~Ciel L'Arc-en-Ciel is a Japanese rock band, founded in Osaka in 1991. With a reported 40 million records sold, they were the first Japanese act to headline at Madison Square Garden.

I've extremely struggled between GazettE, X, Malice Mizer, and L'Arc. To me, the first three bands impact me with their magnificent world settings and talents. But only L'Arc accompanied me during the hardest time of my life.

I think GazettE encourages people with Ruki's powerful words, but L'Arc does this in a soft way - they heal like four angels. 'Pieces' and 'Anata' saved me when I almost gave up. 'Niji' always reminds me of their legendary stories. They remind you what should be cherished in life with purely beautiful music.

Actually, I love many J-rock bands, and I admire GazettE, X, and M+M the same way as L'Arc, but L'Arc is special in my life.

6 One Ok Rock One OK Rock, is a Japanese rock band, formed in Tokyo, Japan in 2005. The band currently consists of Takahiro Moriuchi, Toru Yamashita, Ryota Kohama, and Tomoya Kanki.

I love this band for three reasons.

First, their songs transcend various genres, and they sound amazingly and incredibly good.

Second, their talent and live performances are unmatched. I have never watched live concerts as energetic, upbeat, and emotional as theirs.

Lastly, the members' bonds with each other are extraordinary. They treat each other like family. You can see it in their documentaries and Primal Footmark. Even just by seeing them perform live, observing how they love what they are doing and how harmonious they are with each other while enjoying themselves onstage, you know they are meant to do this. They are meant to be THE ONE OK ROCK.

7 Asian Kung-Fu Generation

Asian Kung-Fu Generation may not be the most well-known band, since they're a bit older, but what they bring to the table is phenomenal. Their live shows are absolutely amazing, and their vocalist is one of the best in the game. I really prefer their music style over many bands because the emotion within their lead singer's voice doesn't sound overexaggerated or fake. The emotion of each and every band member is live and there.

I also look up to them because their recording style is very raw, unlike many modern-day bands that process their parts individually and fix sounds through editing. Their songs such as "Haruka Kanata" and "After Dark" are extremely emotional - just listen to those jaw-dropping vocals - and have exceptional musical ideas integrated regarding the chords used. Almost all their songs are extremely catchy as well. Many of the up-and-coming bands in Japan look up to them, such as Kana-Boon.

Unlike many bands out there, they sell through their music rather than plastic surgery looks and well-done makeup jobs. I really respect them for that. So many bands these days use their appearances to gain a following. They are truly a rare gem within the music industry.

8 Maximum The Hormone Maximum the Hormone (Japanese: マキシマム ザ ホルモン, Hepburn: Makishimamu Za Horumon) is a Japanese heavy metal band from Hachiōji, Tokyo. Their lineup has consisted of vocalist Daisuke-han, drummer Nao, guitarist Maximum the Ryo-kun, and bassist Ue-chan since 1999. Each member alternates... read more

Maximum the Hormone is amazing! Dir en Grey was my favorite band. And then along came MAX! I love how everyone in the band sings. Daisuke-kun with his screaming, Maximum the Ryo with his awesome guitar playing and melodic vocals (sometimes funny-sounding too!), Newo with her metal drumming and her "pop" sounding vocals, and (my personal favorite) Ue-chan with his crazy, god-like bass playing - and he does sing every now and then.

They are just so fun to listen to. This is the one band that I can headbang to and smile about! The other bands on the list are good too, but Maximum the Hormone has just influenced me to make music too!

9 Versailles

Versailles definitely has a unique style and beat. Their songs cover a wide range of emotions, and their clothing is always surprising and entertaining. Kamijo's voice is incredibly beautiful and deep, possessing just the right tone. Versailles' lyrics are also masterfully written, and it's obvious they've been penned with passion. My favorite two songs from Versailles, Episode and Serenade, are especially beautiful in their simplicity. Hizaki, Jasmine You, Teru, and Yuki are also very talented in playing the guitar and drums, respectively. Though Jasmine You will always be missed, both in presence and skills.

10 Nightmare

Well, I've listened to every song Nightmare has put out there, and I've got to say these guys show improvement throughout their careers. As a former band guitarist myself, I appreciate witnessing a band like this one improve over the years. With typical American rock, it seems as if we keep the same style and don't even dare to change up or experiment with different vocalizations.

Like, I know someone is going to be mad, but Nickelback and Five Finger Death Punch have songs that sound exactly the same. That's because there is no attempt whatsoever to change up. So, good job, Nightmare, for showing you guys aren't just some one-trick pony. I look forward to more hits.

The Contenders
11 SID

SID has always been the greatest help for me. They're my inspiration, my life, and my support. Without them, I don't know what I would be. Perhaps I wouldn't even be in this world to write this here. I respect them for their great music and their personalities. I've never respected anyone as much as I do each member.

They have such kind hearts that everyone should learn from. And they support their fans as much as we support them. SID is a great band, the greatest band, I would say. They make the greatest music. Most importantly, they are not a monotonous band. They have various types of music and lyrics. You cannot predict any upcoming single, and they always surprise you. They are the truest and most talented artists.

So yes, I'll vote for SID.

12 UVERworld

Very unique, open, uplifting, hard-hitting sound, all due to UVERworld's diverse instrumentation and vocal elements (sax, synth, bass, electric and rhythm guitar, beatboxing, rapping, crazy drums, and Takuya's lovely singing voice). Every UVERworld album is incredible, and each song really fills up the sound space - they really transport me to some other world when I listen to them.

I love that UVERworld continues to experiment with each release and always aims to outdo anything it's done before, yet still manages to make it work. I've really enjoyed watching and listening to UVERworld grow, and I think they really deserve all the success they've achieved thus far.

13 Fear, and Loathing In Las Vegas

I didn't think techno and screamo went together when I first heard them, but after forcing myself to listen to them for a while, I found that I love this band. My music taste has changed insanely since I started listening to this band. This is my favorite group, and I can honestly say that I love every one of their songs.

Do you know how rare it is to not dislike a single song that a group has made? Falilv rocks. Go check them out!

I hate screamo, but Falilv is my all-time favorite band! They've nailed how to use electronics with heavy metal and how to make screamo a lot less emo. Every single member feels important, not just a background guy. Every member has a distinct look and a distinct role, which I find very respectable.

I haven't yet heard a song of theirs that I dislike. These guys are very talented and are only growing in popularity!

14 Stereo Pony

Okay. In terms of consistent, audience-rousing energy and power, SCANDAL most often has Stereopony beat. But, in terms of balancing the composition of their own music and performance, they are definitely among the top 10. Because of this, Stereopony may hold the most talent in terms of an all-girls band instrumentally.

Moreover, they have perhaps been the most successful in integrating American musical talent into the world of Japanese art. Stereopony has shown time and again that they are dedicated to such a cause and have visited the U.S. repeatedly, even merging permanently so far with their favorite American artist, Avril Lavigne's guitarist Evan.

They may not have gained the most popularity in contrast to SCANDAL, but they are definitely one of the strongest, if not the strongest, Japanese female bands. So, let's raise their rank, guys.

15 Ling Tosite Sigure

A three-person Japanese rock band that is utterly beautiful. Both singers have incredibly unique voices and play their instruments wonderfully. The music that they write and perform is like poetry.

They combine many different rhythms, singing styles, and lyrics to create masterpieces. They are my absolute favorite. Listen if you want your heart broken.

Personally, my favorite band ever. I have never heard a single song from them that I didn't like. A great combination of emotion and technique.

I'm not surprised it's so low on this list, though, as not many people will appreciate the sheer uniqueness of the vocals. Also, their live performances are awesome.

16 Abingdon Boys School

Those who do not have any idea about music can easily be educated if they listen to it carefully. But if they don't understand this because of all the extreme things these guys are doing, then you better stop listening to rock. Abingdon Boys School combines guitars that play at the same scale and level, at the same beat but with different touches.

The keyboard not only supports the guitars but also adds new effects, and bassist IKUO, my third god, is awesome at everything. The drums make it perfectly clear that this band is awesome. And then, vocalist TAKANORI totally makes this band immortal in music.

17 Girugamesh

I love Girugamesh so much that I can't ever get bored of them. That's why I can't come up with any idea that would explain why they are at the bottom of the top 20. I bet you think the same as I do: Girugamesh deserves a much higher placement for who they are.

I know many fans stopped following them because they were disappointed with Girugamesh's new music style, but please reconsider, like I did. Their music isn't just metal. It always develops into an unexpectedly great sound. The fact that each member is getting older, but they keep renewing their music like it was freshly made, makes them unique.

They may not be as outstanding as they used to be in those old glory days (2005-2009), but they are still unique as ever. They are never perfect, like the other bands that were voted to be on top, but their nonstop hard work and effort make them lovable and highly appreciated by us. Moreover, they hold remarkably impressive live performances both in Japan and all over the world. Not only that, their attitude towards fans and other artists/bands shows how well they understand their position. For Girugamesh to take pride in themselves, they have already been on top. I am grateful to anyone who reads this comment and becomes more considerate toward Girugamesh. We love Girugamesh.

18 hide w/ Spread Beaver

Hide (since he did not capitalize his name) was and always will be the best rocker for me. He was caring and amazing, and his voice was just awesome. Hide, though gone now, will never, ever be forgotten because he is the best there is.

He even had a museum built for him. Hide will always be in my heart, my thoughts, and my music player.

Hide's solo projects were amazing, given that they weren't like the work he did with X Japan. They had to be the most successful out of all the other members' solo projects. His guitar playing is truly unique, and even today, people still remember him as a legend.

19 Alice Nine

From Shou's vocals to the instrumentals of Tora, Saga, Hiroto, and Nao, Alice Nine is definitely a band to watch. They have the most beautiful melodies I've ever heard. Their compositions are both deeply moving and amazing to listen to.

This band places a high emphasis on their music, and the fact that each member contributes to the overall song composition is a key factor. I think they deserve a much higher rank because, judging by their music, their lyrics, and their passion, they're certainly the greatest visual kei band I've ever encountered.

20 SuG

They are the happiest and cutest J-rock band I have ever seen. Unlike other J-rock bands, which often have a darker image, they always have a bright and colorful image. They have happy songs with positive meanings, like Toy Soldier, which makes us feel happy when we listen to it.

Besides happy songs, they also compose songs like Misora that touch you when you listen to them. They always work hard and care for their fans. They are the best J-rock band I have ever seen and heard.

21 Luna Sea

They do deserve more credit, for this band was what Elvis Presley was to the rock genre. They were the great pioneer and forefather of Visual Kei and Japanese rock as a whole. Yet, this list is flawed in the sense that it says "best," not "most influential," "most popular," or even "most influential now," which are much more easily agreed upon. I also enjoy listening to other artists more, such as Versailles and the GazettE.

That was a test to see how triggered the fans can get. But seriously, these fans. I haven't seen such pretentiousness in a J-rock fanbase before. I don't know why, either. Most grown adults who like classic bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith don't look down on people who like other bands that draw inspiration. Oh, wait a second. Adults.

22 Flow

They aren't my favorite Japanese rock band, but they deserve to be known for more than just their anime songs. That's how I discovered them, but I dug deeper and bought half of their studio albums. I did this only because the other half weren't conveniently available to Americans.

The point is, music is music, and FLOW does music well.

FLOW is a one-of-a-kind band. Each song has a quirkiness to it with amazing lyrics that help me understand them. There are many different songs by them, and you're sure to find a song you can relate to.

They have done many memorable anime openings as well, such as Code Geass' first opening COLORS, Naruto Shippuden Opening 6 Sign, Naruto opening 4 GO!, and Dragon Ball Z Movie 14: Kami to Kami's HERO Kibou no Uta. They are definitely close to #1 in my books, no doubt about it.

23 Mucc

This position is inappropriate for thinking of a band like MUCC. MUCC is not just a band but a project that has stood since they were kids. Miya, the leader, has great knowledge of music, a sad past but indomitable will, and always creates touching melodies. Tatsurou is the singer that moves me and makes me understand how much life is important. Their lyrics are the proof. The energy of Satoshi, the "loyalty" of Yukke, and their appearances - so funny and original at the same time - make them a unique band in their genre, not classifiable as visual kei. MUCC is not about mere appearance, cool outfits, or fanservice. MUCC is music.

24 Beat Crusaders

Madly catchy songs! Every song has a different feel and is very creative. Songs like Ghost and Let's Escape Tonight are awesome and can't be found anywhere else.

Beat Crusaders totally own compared to the others. Hit in America and Tonight are super sweet songs. You just can't beat the Crusaders.

Why isn't this in the top 10? This doesn't make any sense. Really, I don't get it.

25 FLiP

In Niche Syndrome, the band is already pretty good. Their music is quite different from your mainstream, popular J-Rock band. It feels more like Alt. Rock. Other than Wonderland, their other songs don't feel so 'anime.' And I also recommend their album Love Toxicity. Not that Niche Syndrome was bad, but they seriously got a whole lot better in their latest album!

Anyway, if you like an all-female band with dark-themed, less anime-ish kind of J-Rock, I guarantee you'll easily put them at the top of your playlist.

Kind of wish they'd change their name, though. The name FLiP isn't exactly easy to Google for.

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