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roadtrip japan

The roadtrip in Japan Mix Tape

FIRST: Follow this link 4 good tunez

NEXT: Roll those windows all the way down and breathe in this all-Japanese off-kilter avante-garde/indie-pop playlist of your dreams (and drives).  Additionally, we encourage you to purchase these artists’ albums immediately.

We begin with Haruomi Hosono’s “Sports Man.” Hosono, the Japanese pop icon, is perhaps most famous for being a founding member of bands Yellow Magic Orchestra and Happy End, but we gotta say, his solo music is equally enchanting.  Recommended for a sunny afternoon’s drive to the boat races.

Leaning a bit more into the avant garde, we bring you Mariah’s  “Shinzo No Tobira.”  Darlings of the vinyl underground, Mariah came to cult fame in the early-mid 1980s – blending so many genres that we’ll recuse ourselves from attempting to define them at all.

Carrying on in that vein, experimental pop giant Sandii’s “Zoot Koot” is a celestial soup – three parts Laurie Anderson with a dash of Hauromi Hosono; this collaboration combines Sandii’s knockout voice with Hosono’s synth magic, probably best served as your soundtrack driving around unknown streets in a small, surreal town like Fukuchiyama or somewhere you’ve never been before.

Chieme Manabe, most widely known for her membership in the idol trio Pansy, released only one solo album.  This release, which includes the star-spangled ‘Untotooku,’ has been a fixture in the cosmic disco scene ever since it’s release in 1982.  Probably most suited for drives on the moon?

Ahhh, man. Fishmans, the guardian angels of the dub pop universe.  Their most appropriate/famed/*&#@ing perfect track is called “Night Cruising,” but sadly it’s available only to YouTube Premium members, a club to which we are not party.  So instead, we bring you “Magic Love,” which you may need to pull over during should you find yourself feeling too many feelings. Or so we hear.

Moving onto our indie-pop block, let’s bring the beat back up for an outsider artist we wish would come inside, take off his coat, and stay awhile: Batman Winks.  Not much is known about this Tokyo-based superhero, but plenty of people are hoping for his swift return.  According to his twitter, he has gone solo with his guitar improvisation act as Naoya Takakuwa Impression. May ‘Strange Love’ whisk you off into the neon-spangled nights of the Osaka outskirts or Tokyo two-seat bars.

Mainstream bubblegum indie time!  We love, love, love Siamese Cats, their solo projects, and probably anything they have ever touched.  ‘Girl at the Bus Stop’ is particularly sun-sparkly and destined for a drive to the beach when you’re trying not to think about your crush but holy wow YOU JUST CAN’T HELP IT.  

Are you under any Ishigaki palm-tree-speckled blue skies yet??  Grab your best friends and skip down to the water humming ‘Light,’ this feel-good lo-fi dreamscape by the ever-irresistible bedroom pop outfit SaToA.   

More summer driving soundtrack power: Limited Express (Has Gone?) ‘Old Life – New Life’ bringing that Kansai don’t give a _____ flavor!! Released in the early 2000s with contemporary and alternative flair galore.

Clambon’s ‘Chicago’ is jangly piano pop with crystalline high-pitched vocals that you will never get out of your head.  Active since the late 90’s – you can just imagine the loose-fitting brightly colored t-shirts blowing in the summer wind.

Bittersweet bringin’ this little drive to a twilit denouement, the effortlessly charming Homecomings break our heart a little with ‘Blue Hour.’ 

Until next time, drive safe and dream big, kids! 


Avid camper, family of 5, long term resident of Japan and founder of Dream Drive