Summer Sonic: The Lowdown on Kansai’s Hottest Music Festival

Carey Finn
Summer Sonic Osaka wristband
The party pass. | Photo by Ryoichi Tanaka used under CC

Heard that Summer Sonic is THE hottest event in Kansai? It is—and not just because it’s held in mid-August, which is known to be scorching somewhat warm. The music festival is a two-day party like none other, featuring big (and not so big) names from all sorts of genres and countries. We’re talking four stages, 50+ artists, and thousands of fans, with a bunch of awesome art and food to boot. The madness doesn’t just take place in Osaka—there’s a Tokyo leg that happens simultaneously, with performers shuttling between the two cities. Here, though, our focus is on how to have a smashing cheapo time at Summer Sonic Osaka.

Summer Sonic crowd
Summer Sonic Osaka may just be the best music festival you ever go to. | Photo by LuxTonnerre used under CC

Cheap tickets to Summer Sonic Osaka

First things first, let’s take care of the entry passes. Tickets to Summer Sonic in Osaka are priced at ¥14,000 (tax included) for one day, or ¥25,500 for both days. It’s always a two-day event, and in 2017 it takes place on the 19th and 20th of August. You can book your tickets here. On that very same site, you can snag discount entry passes that include a rail pass or round-trip from Kansai International Airport. #cheapowinning

When you get to the venue (Maishima Sonic Park—more about that below), you’ll exchange your ticket for a wrist band. No matter how itchy it gets or how much you want to see if you can pry it off, don’t. Lose the band, and you’ll miss out on all of the bands.

The line-up, and lining up

This year the line-up includes, among many others, the Foo Fighters, Baby Metal, Calvin Harris, 5 Seconds of Summer, Charli XCX, Pennywise, New Found Glory, Kesha, and even that Pikotaro fellow—you know, the guy who cursed gifted us the Pineapple-Apple-Pen earworm. Previous editions of Summer Sonic have featured the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, The Offspring, Jay-Z and even The Pixies. The show’s a pretty big deal.

The stages (or, learn to plan ahead)

There are four separate stages at Summer Sonic Osaka: Ocean, Mountain, Sonic and White Massive. Performers do their thing on different stages, at the same time—meaning you’ll need to work out who you want to see before you roll into the venue. Scout out the fastest route between the stages so that you can dash back and forth between shows. The gates open at 10am, and the music starts an hour later.

The merch and the melt

Yeah, there’s merchandise to be had, but it’ll cost you. Budget at least ¥3,000 for a t-shirt, and buy it when you arrive—they sell out fast, leaving only stacks of sweat towels for sale. If you’re going to splash out on a shirt, make like the other festivalgoers and don it for the day. CDs and all the rest can be left for hometime.

Next, festival fuel. You can take in bottles of water (no, not vodka; it’s gotta be H20), as long as they’re plastic. Pack a few, because it’s sweltering and mostly outdoors. Food-wise, you can smuggle in a rice ball or two (we can’t guarantee they won’t make you munch ’em before you enter the venue though), or buy nosh from the myriad vendors on the day.

A great deal for independent travellers who need accommodation and transport, but can find things to do on their own. The package includes round-trip tickets for the click here for details
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Summer Sonic audience
You could be this happy. Or at least this sweaty. | Photo by LuxTonnerre used under CC

Getting to Summer Sonic in Osaka

Maishima Sonic Park, aka Maishima Sports Island, is just across the bay from Universal Studios Japan. To access the venue, you have two options: ride the train to Universal City Station on the JR Sakurajima/Yumesaki Line and then take a shuttle to the venue; or head to Cosmosquare Station on the Chuo and Nanko Port Town Lines and take a shuttle from there.

If you want to board the shuttle at Universal City Station, you’ll need to shell out ¥800 for a bus ticket in advance (and in Japanese). If you’re happy hopping on the bus at Cosmosquare, you can buy a ticket for the shuttle on the day (we recommend this option). The bus ride takes around 15 minutes.

Accommodation: Should you stay or should you go?

You can’t camp at or anywhere near the Summer Sonic venue, so if you’re planning on rocking out both days, you’ll need to head back into Osaka proper for the night. Hotel Sunplaza, down south, is dirt cheap, while Hotel Mystays in Sakaisuji-Honmachi is central with a few more notches of class. You can also look through our Osaka hotel listings for other accommodation ideas.



Pinwheels at Summer Sonic
There’s cool stuff to see at Summer Sonic, and we’re not just talking about Charli XCX and that Pikotaro chap. Ed’s note: Actually, we’re definitely not talking about him. | Photo by Otota Dana used under CC

While you’re in Osaka, you might want to do some other fun (and cheap) things, like visiting Osaka Castle, and snapping a selfie in front of the neon Running Man in Dotonbori.

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