If you have an interest in the culture of a country, it is worth lending an ear to its music, and Japan is no different. Traditional Japanese music is beautifully distinctive and remarkable, and Japan's music has its own traits that distinguish it from the music of many other countries. Take some time and think about some of the music that you might hear in Japan today; it is an eclectic mix and there is a great deal of influence from other countries as well.
For instance, heavy metal is an important genre of music in Japan. Power metal and neo classical metal are both important genres and there are many Japanese bands from the eighties and ninties that are classified as speed metal. Loudness is the most successful Japanese heavy metal band that tours outside of Japan while Sabbat and Sigh are two very popular domestic groups.
As early as the eighties R&B and dance music started to become popular in Japan. Some of the early stars of this genre of music included Ayumi Hamasaki and the group Every Little Thing, and today, the tradition continues with stars including Hikaru Utada and and the all girl group Morning Musume. Some current R&B singers that currently enjoy a fair amount of attention in Japan include Shota Shimizu, Beni Arashiro and Thelma Aoyama.
Though Japanese hip-hop is a relatively newer form of music to hit the Japanese scene, it has become extremely popular in a short period of time. The hip hop scene itself is a fluid and open space and both independent and major label artists can share space and impressive amounts of attention.
Every since the sixties, Japanese rock bands have enjoyed an impressive degree of appreciation and acclaim. Today, there is an extremely varied underground rock scene that will cover bands like Boredoms, which is a noise rock band to alternative acts like Shonen Knife, which achieved a fair degree of popularity in the west due to acclaim from popular musicians there. Some of the bands which have achieved acclaim include Eastern Youth and the Band Apart.
Though a slightly smaller genre, theme music is also an important part of the modern Japanese music scene. One way for bands to get publicity is to write songs for anime series films and television series, either the opening or closing tracks, and positions on soundtracks are a fairly hot commodity. There are many groups that have spent their careers composing for theme songs and other visual media, and some of the more famous ones include Does, JAM Project and The Pillows.
Take some time and consider what your options are when you are thinking about listening to Japanese music; there are plenty of choices and something to suit every taste!