Making Music in Japan’s Underground: The Tokyo Hardcore Scene, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Making Music in Japan’s Underground

The Tokyo Hardcore Scene, 1st Edition

By Jennifer Milioto Matsue


172 pages | 30 B/W Illus.

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Grounded in the fields of Ethnomusicology, Anthropology, Popular Music Studies, and Japanese Studies, this book explores the underground Tokyo hardcore scene, ultimately asking what play as resistance through performance of the scene tells us about Japanese society in general. Matsue highlights the complicated positioning of young adult Japanese in contemporary Japan as they negotiate both increasing social demands and increasing problems in society at large. Further drawing on theories of play, identity building, and the construction of gender, all informed by the increasingly influential field of Performance Studies, the book offers a highly interdisciplinary look at the importance of musical scenes for expressing resistance at the turn of the 21st century. Within the underground Tokyo hardcore scene this resistance is expressed through play with individual and collective identity, in intimate and potentially illicit spaces, with an arguably challenging sound and performance style.


"This book is a welcome contribution to the study of music in Japan and popular music studies in general. Matsue's notion of 'playing with resistance' serves as a powerful reminder that so-called 'alternative' styles of popular music are less about resistance to mainstream culture and more about the construction of an imagined alternative society that actually recreates and reinforces social norms." - Jay Keister, author of Shaped By Japanese Music

"This book is a model of rich and committed ethnography. Its account of hardcore music-making in Tokyo engages with key questions of creative labour and its meaning. With insight and wit, Matsue analyzes music's relationship to work and play, to movement through the city, and to the meaning of musical undergrounds." - Will Straw, McGill University, Canada

Table of Contents

Introduction: Ethnography of a Scene 1. The Underground Tokyo Hardcore Scene 2. Trains, 20,000volt, Tower Records, and the Illicit Intimacy of the Spaces of Play 3. Schoolboys, Aspiring Stars, Underground Girls, and the Multiple Identities of the People who Play 4. More than the Musical in the Performance of Hardcore. Conclusion: Meaning and the Power of Performance. Epilogue: “Koenji, the sacred place for underground music."

About the Author

Jennifer Milioto Matsue is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at Union College.

About the Series

East Asia: History, Politics, Sociology and Culture

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General