For many indie musicians in Japan, playing music is in part, a hobby that they do aside from a regular job.
They often play at live clubs, called "live houses," jazz clubs and outdoor event spaces among other places.
The Japanese "live houses" are basically music halls or rock clubs, which for the most part are clean, dedicated venues with proficient sound and lighting staff. They also have full backline equipment that is well maintained, but may or may not require a rental fee.
Jazz clubs commonly serve food & drinks and usually have a music charge for live performances. Backline equipment is commonly provided at no charge, but all musicians are expected to pay for their own food and drinks.
Performances in Japan are commonly set up with artists at the same levels performing together. With some exceptions, most of the time bands either play by themselves ("one man live" in Japanese) or several at the same level of popularity play together.
Live houses may have 4 to 7 acts playing for 30 min. each, but jazz clubs and restaurants usually have just 1 act on per night playing two 30 to 45 min. sets.
Very few festival promoters in Japan are willing to book musicians with no fanbase or name recognition, so in general bands that play in outdoor events are either Japanese bands or bands from overseas that already have representation in Japan.
We have compiled a short list of festivals that are open to booking foreign musicians on our venues page.
For a more detailed look at the scene, check out "Performing in Japan: The KMC Guide to the World's Largest Music Market."