Top 10 Best Japanese Rock Drummers

This is a list of the best Japanese rock drummers, spanning from the early years of Japanese rock to the present. Only Japanese drummers who are part of a band, or were previously in a band, should be included on this list.
The Top Ten
1 Yuki - Versailles

This guy can turn the clash of cymbals into a melody line and knows the difference between crescendo and forte when it comes to those transitions in the middle of a song. Not many drummers even care about that. But other than his knowledge and skill, he has so much stamina! During those long songs at live performances, they are constantly transitioning and changing, yet he manages to maintain speed and keeps going no matter how long the song is. All the while, he has a big grin on his face when he's done! He often fist pumps in the air, even though his arms should be so tired they would feel like they're going to fall off. Skill, Experience, Stamina, Enthusiasm: He's got it all.

2 Yutaka Uke - The GazettE

Some of the others on this list are very good. They've had years more experience than Kai, and that's great and all, but Kai's got so much passion when he drums. Any video you see of him, his whole body moves with the music. He sings along while maintaining a perfect rhythm. His licks are really unique more often than not. Anyone can learn to kick the bass in 16ths, but having that strong ability and the variety to make it matter is why I think he's the best. Plus, he's just so damn nice. You can't NOT love him.

My vote goes to Kai. He is a really good drummer. No wonder he's in first place. He's not just simply drumming, but he has passion in drumming. He is really talented and amazing. Whenever they play on stage, you can see that he is totally enjoying what he's doing. He loves what he is doing, and that is the most important. It doesn't matter if other drummers entered the jrock industry earlier than him. We are not talking of experience here. It's about skills. There is no doubt why he's got first place. Kai is the best!

3 Shinya Terauchi - Dir en grey

Shinya is not only the best Japanese drummer but also the best drummer in the world, in my opinion. There's so much more to him than just a fancy drum set or his looks. He easily surpasses Yoshiki. Shinya is technical, fast (when he needs to be), and breaks boundaries between himself and other drummers. He is one of the most creative, diverse, and flexible in terms of fills, beats, etc. In a nutshell, if anyone else can do it, Shinya can do it 100 times better than anyone ever could.

Shinya is definitely the backbone of Dir en grey. His playing is so complex and full of meaning, and his drum kit just gets bigger and bigger every time I see them live. He said in an interview that he "uses every piece at some point", showing that he's a very accomplished drummer who definitely knows what he's doing. During live performances, you can see the intensity and passion in his playing, and the love he holds for drumming, which you don't really see in many drummers.

4 Yoshiki Hayashi - X JAPAN Yoshiki Hayashi is a Japanese musician, songwriter, composer and record producer. Better known by his stage name Yoshiki, he is best known as the leader and a co-founder of the heavy metal band X Japan, for which he is the drummer, pianist and main songwriter. The band achieved breakthrough success... read more

I did have second thoughts, despite being an X Japan enthusiast. I believe Shinya from Dir en grey possesses a broader range of skills and techniques than his drum hero, but Yoshiki essentially pioneered what we now recognize as the J-Rock / Visual Kei scene. I am more fond of the "old" Yoshiki, referring to the period from X's breakthrough in the underground music scene until about two years ago.

As an emotional and talented drummer, Yoshiki devotes himself entirely to his drums, playing with his heart. You can sense his emotions, usually sadness and pain, just by watching him play. Even with the TV muted, you feel "something" by observing him. He seems to battle through his emotions while drumming, and it's captivating.

Apart from drumming skills, which are subjectively evaluated, Yoshiki is a more talented and polished musician overall. He can compose music, write lyrics, play the piano (which is actually his "natural instrument"), arrange strings, and conduct. He has proven his versatility beyond just drumming, excelling in various areas. This is why I believe he is the number one drummer on this list.

5 Yukihiro Awaji - L'Arc~en~Ciel

Every time I think a song couldn't be any better, Yukihiro Awaji changes my mind with his unique timing. He's got mad skills! His hands move very quickly when he's drumming. I like that sound when he drums, it goes from step to step, slow to fast, and from a quiet sound to a heavy sound. He amazes me all the time when he's drumming.

My personal favorite drummer honestly. I love Laruku, and Yukihiro's drumming is absolutely amazing. He's got very complicated beats and creates some very nice music with Acid Android as well. In my opinion, he really is an amazing drummer and should be higher on this list.

6 Nao - Alice Nine

I think the fact that he puts in so much effort into learning the drums and playing them well is really amazing and admirable. The effort he puts in obviously pays off, evident from the distinct drum sounds in all of their songs. If you listen closely or watch their PVs properly, you can really see how skilled he is.

Nao has very nice and heavy drumming. I can always hear his drumming in songs. I always air drum to the drums because they're really audible and heavy. I really admire his drumming and hope I can be as good as him one day.

7 Rina Suzuki - SCANDAL

So cute and beautiful, but once she plays the drums, you'll be amazed by her skills as a drummer! She hits them so hard, with such vigor and energy, that you can feel the energy vibrate from her. Also, despite not knowing how to play the drums at first, she rose to become a brilliant drummer. This is very inspiring, especially to aspiring musicians. She's hard-working and talented, always wanting to improve her skills.

Not just because she is pretty, it's because she puts her heart into every beat she gives on her drums. Her style is unique, and no one can match the passion she has. She wants to cry because she is happy. She wants to thank all the people around her because she loves us. That's the Rina Suzuki I know. A very lovely and talented person.


SUJK has very impressive skill because he can drum while spinning his stick, and the tempo remains good. His double pedal work is amazing! He can maintain a stable drumming condition while the tempo sometimes goes up and sometimes down. All hail SUJK!

The best drummer I've seen so far! His drum solos are terrific! His skills, his motion, his passion for drums! You can see all of them. His every move is full of emotion. I love him!

You had to see how he plays the drum! Spins the drumstick without losing the tempo. He already had his special character! SUJK sensei was great!

9 Tetsu Kikuchi - D'ERLANGER
10 Tomoya - One Ok Rock

Tomoya is so amazing! I admire his talents so much! He's such a great person and knows how to interact with his fans. He can play a drum out of anything, and it will still sound beautiful. They all form a perfect band that will never make you bored. Tomoya is such a weird but unique person. People love him for that. He'll always stand out in the crowd. His drumming sounds so amazing. I swear I cannot stop listening to it. It makes me want to move and bob to the music. I really want Tomoya to be in 1st or 2nd place. He's so amazing!

The Contenders
11 Yuuya Shirato - SID

Not only is he an amazing drummer, but he also gives life to a band as brilliant as SID. Often, bands lack a sense of union amongst their members, and even if their music is great, the chemistry between them is no good. This definitely doesn't apply to SID. There's an amazing bond between the four members of this band. They're not just individuals, they're a true group, and Yuuya is a fundamental piece of this union. The music they make is amazing and creative, and he gives SID the soul they have. He's an incredible drummer and person! Go, Yuuya!

12 Shuji Suematsu - Janne Da Arc

I like him, his drum, and his style. I hope Shuji, Yasu, You, Ka-yu, and Kiyo will reunite and make Janne Da Arc top again.

13 Masafumi Minato - DEAD END

His drum fills are just out of this world. He's one of the most influential drummers in Japan. His tempo is amazing, and his live performance is just as good as his studio recordings. He's got everything a drummer needs.

His technique, speed, fills, and ghost notes are outstanding. His creative drum lines can be simple and complex at the same time. You'll be surprised at how you can rediscover the 4/4 time signature.

14 Shinya Yamada - LUNA SEA

I'm surprised this man is not listed among the top ten. If I had just watched the spinning drum sets, I don't think I would have admired him. There is so much more to drumming than just power, speed, and anything else mentioned in the comments here. He switches from drumsticks to mallets in his efforts to express, teases with the manipulation of volume, develops different themes through background recordings (the tribal theme in Tokyo Dome Reboot was just beautiful), and puts so much emotion into his art. Add to that playing in a suit, which makes movement and range of motion more difficult if the drummer chooses to go crazy. Even with the craziness he seems to want before J comes in, he still puts so much dignity into the art of drumming. This man should be occupying that number 1 spot.

15 Kami - Malice Mizer

There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about the way Kami played the drums. I can't say the same for any other drummer. His style filled Malice Mizer with life. Mana was the mind, Gackt was the voice, Yu~ki and Kozi were the hands, and Kami was the heart. His complex rhythms complemented every song as he made the drums sing. He is truly missed and will always be remembered. Thanks for the beautiful memories, Kami.

Kami is one of the few drummers who can deliver what I call "melodic percussion." Listen to his duet with Gackt on piano. Truly one of a kind. He will always live in his fans' hearts.

16 Toll Yagami - BUCK TICK

I find his drumming really interesting and almost flawless. After years of experience, he developed his own unique style. However, this doesn't mean he's not versatile. On the contrary, his drumming works well on every album and in every song, and the band has gone through lots of changes.

Experienced, long-time drummer of the band BUCK-TICK. He can play any kind of beats on any kind of music. Since the band is always changing styles and such, he has possibly gone through a lot of changes as well in his drumming, always improving. He is that amazing.

17 Yasunori Sakurazawa - SONS OF ALL P*****

Sakura is still doing a great job today. He was inspired by bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and The Police. To me, he is epic in the Japanese music world. I recommend learning more about him. He's a winner in many other aspects of his life.

18 Hideki Aoyama - JAM Project
19 Shinpei - SuG

An excellent drummer who shows not only his own skill but also complements his band altogether.

Shinpei is incredibly well-trained. He has all the flexibility to play any style of music he wants and the musical ear to tailor his style to perfectly suit any song presented to him. As a result, SuG's sound has significantly improved since they added his talent to their lineup. An amazingly adept young artist, Shinpei has managed to pull SuG out of three years of stagnation left behind by their undeniably charming but unfortunately average original drummer.

20 Kiyoshi Ijichi - Asian Kung Fu Generation

Super solid and great feel. Supports the song in perfect ways, and you know he could do way more, but he keeps playing as a musician more than a drummer. Mad respect.

He is a great solid velocity drummer!

Check out "Blue Train" by Asian Kung-Fu Generation. Kiyoshi rocks. Amazing.

21 Munetaka Higuchi - LOUDNESS
22 Ruka - Nightmare

He delivers what few other drummers can. I'm sure if he was part of Gazette, he would be at #1. Ruka is amazing beyond comparison, and not only as a drummer but also as a songwriter and composer. His solo project is brilliant, his drumming is amazing.

God-like drummer, if I may say so. He's strong. Every beat he delivers is meaningful and thoughtful, demonstrating skillful technique. He's beyond comparison. He's not number 1 here, but he's absolutely the best drummer the world has ever had. Oh, and not only in drumming. He's also the composer along with Sakito. And every song, each of the songs he composed, is truly beautiful. He's the best of all.

23 Tatsuya Amano - Crossfaith

Amano is one of the fastest and most hardcore drummers in the world! With double kicks and double bass, Crossfaith's songs are always fast-paced and bass-tastic! Who doesn't love bass?! Plus, his hair is super glossy, and he is always flicking it around. On their 'Into the Zion' tour around Britain and the United Kingdom, everyone was awestruck at his drumming skills. "The drummer dude. Oh man, he's crazy. Just crazy!" said one of the fans after seeing an event.

He is the best, top 10? No, of course, he must be in the top 5, the best rock or metal or whatever drummer alive. No doubt.

24 Nao Kawakita - Maximum the Hormone

Nao plays an insane number of different styles, from death metal to jazz, and makes them all look easy. She's also a true show-stopper with her entertaining performance style, and she sings too! There is literally nothing she cannot do.

The drummer chick who can pound the drums effectively and quickly. She can sing very well while drumming too. She is good. I think someone like her deserves some respect!

She's not just the best Japanese female drummer, she is the best female drummer. She makes drumming in every style look easy! And not to mention how good of a singer she is too!

25 Junji Tokai - Kiryu

He's like the cutest guy ever to sit behind a drum kit! Seriously!

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