Japanese All-female Indie Rock Bands

This page features some of the indie-pop and indie-rock all-girl bands bands from Japan. It is part of a series: All-girl Rock Bands from Japan.

The bands featured in this section tend to have a few things in common:a kind of untrained (let’s call it ‘naive’) vocal style and a lighter sound than rock bands like BAND-MAID or metal bands like Aldious. Some of the bands featured on this page go for more a twee pop sound with jangly guitar chords or gently plucked riffs, while others base their arrangements on jagged guitar riffs and a more emotional vocal delivery.

The all-girl indie bands tend to be quite resilient, with some of the bands featured on this page performing for two or three decades. I am now in the process of updating the page and will soon add the following bands: Potari, Split End, Boundary, Yonige, Finlands

Active Bands

The section includes Lucie, Too; Shishamo, Regal Lily, the peggies, Dialuck, the Wisely Brothers, Hump Back,, Shonen Knife and Mass of the Fermenting Dregs.

Lucie, Too

Chisato Kokubo (vocals, guitar, main songwriter), Kanako Sekizawa (bass, vocals), Naho Shibahara (drums, vocals)

Lucie, Too: Lucky

Lucie, Too is an energetic and upbeat three piece-band hailing from Utsunomiya. and featuring Chisato Kokubo (vocals, guitar, main songwriter), Kanako Sekizawa (bass, vocals), Naho Shibahara (drums, vocals). To find out more about

The band’s name comes from the title of a song by American indie band Now Now. Lucie, too is a relatively new band, having released their first full album—Lucky—in 2018. Their songs tend to be upbeat and feature catchy melodies, jangling guitar chords and propulsive bass lines. If you ever feel the need to a quick pick-me-up, try listening to their hit single Lucky. (official website: lucietoojp.tumblr.com)

SHISHAMO

Asako Miyazaki (vocals and guitars), Misaki Yoshikawa (drums) and Aya Matsuoka (bass)

SHISAMO: BYE BYE

SHISHAMO is a popular indie pop-rock trio that was formed in 2010 when the founding members were in the school’s light music club (Aya Matsuoka replaced founding member Aya Matsumoto in 2014). Their name, Shishamo, is a kind of small fish. The band is fairly popular in Japan and have released six studio albums, with their 2018 album
SHISHAMO 5 reaching a peak position of number 3 in the weekly album sales charts. However, they do not appear to be very well known overseas. (official website: shishamo.biz).

Regal Lily (リーガルリリー)

Honoka Takahashi (vocals, guitar), Yukiyama (drums), Haruka Shiraishi (bass)

Regal Lily: はしるこども (Hasharu Kids)

Regal Lily is a highly-rated three-piece rock band from Tokyo. It was founded in 2014 by Honoka Takahashi (vocals and guitar) and Yukiyama (drums) when the two girls were in high school, and they were later joined by Haruka Shiraishi on bass. Their song Hasharu Kids—which alternates between between restrained, dreamy verses featuring gentle, innocent-sounding vocals and grungier choruses full of distorted guitar and strained vocals—is characteristic of their style. (official website: www.regallily.com)

the peggies

Yuuho Kitazawa (vocals, guitar, songwriting), Makiko Ishiwata (bass), Miku Onuki (drums)

the peggies: グライダー (Glider)

The peggies are a popular indie trio . The band was formed in 2011 when the members were in junior high school. They released their first album, which was a Tower Records promotional album, in 2014. When I first visited Japan a few years ago, one of the things that was a pleasant surprise was the amount of support that large record store chains like Tower Records gave to indie bands via in-store displays, band appearances and special promotional releases. (official website: thepeggies.jp)

Dialuck

Haru (vocals, guitar), Kanatama (bass), Shiori (drums)

Dialuck: あの街まで (To the Town)

Dialuck was formed in 2015 in the small city of Neyagawa, Osaka. Their music is soft indie pop in which the half-spoken, half-sung vocal parts and repetitive instrumental lines intertwine and gently flow. They released their first mini-album in 2016. The singer, Haru, helped record a song, MEWTON, that was featured as in insert song for the PS4 game Gravity Falls, with the song featuring in the promotional video ‘Gravity Cat’: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0INIMjvtCL4

The Wisely Brothers

Haruko Madachi (vocals, guitar), Akane Watanabe (drums, vocals) Izumi Wakuri (bass, vocals)

The Wisely Brothers: メイプルカナダ (Maple Canada)

The Wisely Brothers band was formed in 2010 when the band members were in the same class in high school. The joined the school’s light music club and started out by doing cover versions of Chatmonchy songs. Their songs tend to be feathery-light, mid-tempo songs, though in Maple Canada, they break out their guitar distortion pedals to build up to a slightly rockier mood. The band name was thought up by Haruko’s father when he designed a name and logo for the band. The name is based on ‘The Isley Brothers”. One thing that has come up a few times while researching bands for this article is that quite often the band member’s parents are pop and rock music aficionados. So far, the band has released on full-album
Yak. (official website: wiselybrothers.com)

Hump Back

Current lineup: Momoko Hayashi (vocals, guitar, songwriting), Pika (bass, vocals), Misaki (drums, vocals)

Hump Back: 月まで (To the Moon)

Hump Back is a three-piece indie band. Their go-to style is uptempo melodic indie rock along the lines of RADWIMPS. I find Momoko Hayashi’s singing style a little too strident and piercing when she is going for power, so I prefer their songs that are a little slower and feature a few quieter sections, like the song featured here. The band was formed in 2009 when the original members were in their light music club in high school (Momoko was in a Chatmonchy cover band at the time), but the bassist (Megu) and drummer (Yuuki) left and their have been a few lineup changes. They released their first single in 2012, but they are not very prolific—mainly producing singles and mini-albums (official website: www.humpbackofficial.com).

Shonen Knife

Original lineup: Naoko Yamano (vocals, guitar), Atsuko Yamano (drums) Michie Nakatani (bass)

Shonen Knife: Riding on the Rocket

Shonen Knife was formed in 1981 and with their cheerful pop-punk sound earned a strong cult following in America’s indie rock scene in the late 80s and 1990s. They played concerts with Fugazi and Nirvana, and Kurt Cobain was an admirer of the band. The lineup has changed a lot over the years, with Naoko Yamano, guitarist and lead vocalist, being the sole founding member still with the band, which is still actively touring and recording. The song featured in the above video, Riding on the Rocket, is from their third album, Pretty Little Baka Guy, which was released in 1986. (official website: www.shonenknife.net)

Mass of the Fermenting Dregs (マス オブ ザ ファーメンティング ドレッグス)

Original lineup: Natsuko Miyamoto (lead vocals, bass), Chiemi Ishimoto (guitar), Reiko Gotoh (drums)

Mass of the Fermenting Dregs: IF A SURFER (WARNING: the video contains a lot of flashing images)

Mass of the Fermenting Dregs is a post-punk band formed in 2002 in Kobe by It is only in this original incarnation that the lineup was all-female. Reiko dropped out in 2007 and Chiemi left in 2010. The band broke up in 2012 but Natsuko revived it in 2015 and this version of the band is still active. (official website:  www.motfd.com)


Defunct Bands

The following bands were quite influential in encouraging new artist to work on less commercial but more emotional styles of music. For example, a few of the bands listed above performed cover versions of Chatmonchy songs when they were just getting started out.

Chatmonchy

Eriko Hashimoto (guitar, vocals) and Akiko Fukuoka (bass, vocals)

Chatmonchy: とび魚のバタフライ (Butterfly Fish) Live

Chatmonchy (チャットモンチー), a band recommended by Icarus, is an indie-pop duo featuring Eriko Hashimoto and Akiko Fukuoka. They band had been had formed as a trio in 2000 but their drummer, Kumiko Takahashi, left the band amicably in 2011. The main stylistic feature of the band is the combination of high and cutesy vocals soaring over upbeat pop-rock riffs.  Chatmonchy has been influential, with some of the bands in this section starting out by covering their songs. Chatmonchy disbanded in 2018 after the release of the seventh studio album. (website is: www.chatmonchy.com)

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