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Sunset Live

Imagine sitting on a sandy beach, cool waves lapping at your feet and the sun warming your shoulders. You take a sip of rum and coke as the live music from a few feet away washes over you. Close by, bikini and short-clad people are nibbling on jerk chicken as they amble down a palm tree lined path, or bouncing around in front of a stage where a band is playing. And you didn’t have to leave Japan, or even Fukuoka-ken.

You’re at Sunset Live, an annual three day music festival held at Keya Beach in Itoshima. It started as a tiny one day event in 1992, but now it’s a three-day festival that draws international artists and people from Tokyo and Osaka.

The best way to know what the event is like is to jump in and experience it in person, but if you want to get a better idea before you go, check out the following report on Sunset Live 2008.

Music

The music ranges from Reggae and Ska to Jack Johnson-esque chill out music to a bit of Rock Pop Alternative. Last year Japanese DJ Fantastic Plastic Machine, Australian singer songwriter Beau Young and British trombonist (who’s played with such legends as Bob Marley, The Specials, and Madness) Rico Rodriguez all played, amongst many others. On top of the acts playing on the two stages, in previous years there have been performances from an African dance troop, marching brass band, fire dancers and taiko drummers, to name a few.

Accommodation and Tickets

A one day ticket to the festival costs about ¥5,800, while a three day ticket is ¥12,000. The tickets are available from Family Mart from about August. You can camp out on the beach, but if you don’t have your own gear then you can stay in the umi-noi-e (海の家). This is a covered, wall-less area with tatami flooring, next to the sea. During the day they are the perfect place to dump your stuff and lounge around in the shade, but at night mosquito nets split up the room so you can sleep. It’s about ¥1,200 from 8pm until 10am, and you must book in advance. Also, you’ll need to bring your own bedding with you. You can also rent a space from 10am-8pm for about ¥500.

Food and Drink

There are about thirty food and drink stalls, so I wouldn’t bother bringing much food with you. Last year’s highlights (in my opinion) were the tacos, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Nasi Goreng, and of course the ice cold beer! The festival is also environmentally friendly; instead of paper plates the Sunset Live staff wash plastic plates ones to reduce waste even more. Then, after the event, the “biomass” cups (made of corn) are properly recycled.

Amenities

There are shower stalls available, though you’ll have to pay a small fee. They also have the cleanest portable toilets I have ever seen at a music festival! (then again this is Japan). Soft drinks, alcohol and food are all sold, but if you try the vending machines just outside of the festival site you can get much cheaper beverages. There is also car parking, but it’s limited so be careful if you get there late.

Access

Sunset Live takes place on Keya Beach, about 30 kilometers west of Tenjin. While car parking is available, we recommend taking a shuttle bus from Tenjin (Bank of Japan on Showa-dori), or Hakata Station. Reservations are required, call 092-525-2212 for more information.

I went to Sunset Live two years in a row, and it was an amazing experience. The live music, beautiful setting, swimming in the sea (and surviving a few jellyfish bites!) and meeting some really fun and friendly people made this event one of my favorite memories of Japan. I hope you can enjoy it too!

Details

Sunset Live 2008
Where: Keya Beach Campsite, 2589 Keya, Shima-machi, Itoshima-gun, Fukuoka
When: Friday September 5th to Sunday September 7th.
Website: http://www.beachcafesunset.com
See photos from Sunset Live 2007 here: http://www.beachcafesunset.com/index2.htm

At the time of writing, no headliners had been announced, so please check the website for updates!