Meet The Experimental J-Rock Band You Need to Listen to: RADWIMPS

RADWIMPS is one of few bands from Japan to have genuinely established itself overseas and in the Western world. The band is best known for contributing to the soundtrack of 2016’s globally successful anime Your Name. It has since been responsible for the soundtracks in other Makoto Shinkai films, Weathering With You and, most recently, Suzume.

When I saw Suzume in theatres last month, I was awestruck by RADWIMPS’ performance in the opening theme song. The warmth I felt from their song left me invigorated and motivated to have my own Makoto Shinkai moment. RADWIMPS’ ability to complement their music perfectly with the scenic animation and impressive storytelling of Makoto Shinkai’s movies explains why they have become so popular in the West. 

More than a bridge between music and anime, RADWIMPS is an innovator in the Japanese rock scene.

From Local Performances to International Success

RADWIMPS is a quartet with vocalist, guitarist and pianist Yojiro Noda, guitarist Akira Kuwahara, bassist Yusuke Takeda and drummer Satoshi Yamaguchi. Led by frontman Yojiro, RADWIMPSwas formed in Yokohama 2001 and initially comprised five school friends.

The original lineup consisted of vocalist Yojiro Noda, guitarists Akira Kuwahara and Yuusuke Saiki, bassist Kei Asou, and drummer Akio Shibafuji. Yojiro acts as the band’s voice, writing all the music and lyrics before becoming the lead singer. 

The band would perform while still in school and even win in 2002’s Yokohama High School Music Festival, where they would feature their first single, “Moshi Mo.”

However, after a hiatus in 2003, members Saiki, Asou, and Shibafuji decided not to return to the band.

In an impulsive decision, the remaining band members invited acquaintances Yusuke Takeda and Satoshi Yamaguchi to join on bass and drums, leading to the current famed lineup.

090614_RADWIMPS-1024x666 Meet The Experimental J-Rock Band You Need to Listen to: RADWIMPS

In 2005 the band made their major label debut and signed with the label EMI Music Japan. They would receive their big break in 2006 with their third album, “Mujinto ni Motte Ikiwasureta Ichimai,” a platinum-certified release.

Despite signing to a major record label, the band would remain stylistically the same, refraining from commercializing their sound. Their commitment to their music would land them two number-one hits on Oricon single charts, 2008’s “Order Made” and 2011’s “Dada.”

In 2016 RADWIMPS made their first debut in a Makoto Shinkai film with the album “Your Name” featured in an animated film of the same name. Not only would the film be a massive success, but the soundtrack too would receive commercial success and praise from anime fans. “Your Name” would peak at No. 1 on three Japanese charts and No. 2 on Billboards World Albums charts.


The wacky name, “RADWIMPS,” blended two English words, rad and wimp, an oxymoron meaning cool coward.

RADWIMPS Style/Genre

RADWIMPS is known for their alternative rock style embodied by intricate guitar riffs, powerful vocals and deep lyrics. 

The band boasts strong technical ability and relies on guitars and drums to produce catchy melodies. Accompanying their instrumentals, the band implements abstract lyrics to create “shout-along choruses.” 

To stay new and fresh, the band is not afraid to incorporate other genres into their rock sound but stays to true to their core as a rock band.

RADWIMPS Influences

Like many other Japanese rock bands formed in the early 2000s, RADWIMPS takes inspiration from English and American rock bands. Original members Yojiro and Akira reference Radiohead, Elliot Smith, Ringo Sheena, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Oasis as their primary influences. Furthermore, the two quote jazz and hip-hop as musical styles that inspire their music.

Songs to Check Out

  • We’ll be alright (Weathering With You -Complete Version-)
  • Dream Lantern (Your Name.)
  • Saihate Aini (Anti Anti Generation)
  • 05410-(n) (RADWIMPS 4: Okazu no Gohan)

For more Japanese rock recommendations read about our top 10 J-rock bands you should know!

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