The dark alleys and basement bars across Japan play host to a thriving extreme music underground
Japan is a country of immense cultural resources.
But lately, select motifs have been receiving a boost from a variety of beneficiaries, not least of which is the Cool Japan fund. The now relatively familiar themes of the anime-centric Otaku and the soft & saccharine Kawaii culture (spearheaded by the likes of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) are a big part of big biz's push to promote "Japanese culture" to a wider, international audience. The tried & true images of samurai, geisha, robots, and sushi also feature prominently in this effort to boost Japan's soft power, but there are some amongst us who would rather not be spoon-fed an image of Japan that ignores a vast swathe of the very real creative strains active today that aren't picked up by mainstream efforts.
The underground, that esoteric and mysterious place that houses all varieties of eccentrics and vagabonds.
But this is only the urban legend version of what goes on down there. The members of Japan's underground, be they in the audience, performing, creating, or facilitating, and the community that they've created is, once accessible, outstandingly open, fastidious, and curious, not to mention it produces some of Japan's most creative material - no small feat in a country that is also known for stamping out creative tendencies, as one proverb would have it.
True to form, the underground of Japan is rather difficult to gain access to.
Communications between separate communities tend to be sluggish, and venues can be expensive and bands hard to contact; but despite the difficulty surrounding entry, the underground world here is phenomenal. That does not, however, mean that its perfect... far from it. Kaala's role in all of this is to support and to document Japan's underground, beginning with its music scene, but expanding out from there into the social constructs that form. Punk, Hardcore, Noise, Grind, Doom, Thrash, Black, Heavy, Avant-Garde, Experimental, Psychedelic, whatever your pleasure, Japan has a scene for it with multiple players. Get to know them and get involved through Kaala.