Y’know what they say: it’s all in the name 😀
Oftentimes the most immediate thing that stands out (to me at least) when I come across Japanese bands and artist groups, isn’t so much the way they sound or how they look like, but more so what they’re called as. This is especially true when you consider that my main medium of music discovery is YouTube, where one of the first things everyone sees before even clicking on a video is the title for it, which (in the case of PVs) almost always contains the name of the ones performing the song.
I mean, honestly, I must’ve listened to dozens of bands that came up on my feed just because they had an aboslutely rad name (xD)
They more or less tend to range from cool and idiomatic, to just plain silly and weird (though possibly unintentionally so for the most part), and a good number of them end up being entertaining (lol) as a result. All that being said, here are some of my own personal favorite Japanese band/group names that I’ve encountered.
[ kami wa saikoro wo furanai | “God does not throw dice” ]
Kami wa Saikoro wo Furanai translates to “God does not throw dice”, and I’d be damned if a name like that doesn’t at the very least tickle your fancy. The origin of this phrase is largely credited to Albert Einstein, which had been taken from his remarks directed towards his peers, who posit that there are no certainties in the way the world works and that there can only be probabilities. Einstein exclaims thus that “God does not play dice”; things certainly happen for a reason — that anything and everything in this world runs a course, and that course is something we can predict based on our observations and our understanding of what we perceive. Basically the complete polar opposite of fellow Alternative Rock band Nothing’s Carved In Stone /jk
[ pirokalpin | “Pilocarpine” ]
In a meeting that the band had had to decide what to name themselves as, Gt./Vo. Matsuki Chieko recalled to mind a memo she wrote back during her days as a med school student. She had made it a point to write down the word “pilocarpine” (medication used to treat glaucoma), at the back of one of her notes, with the intent of potentially using it as a band name should she have the opportunity — to which she ultimately had; with “Pirokalpin” being a play on Japanese-English writing/spelling conventions. Matsuki then adds that, in the same way that pilocarpine is used to treat vision impairments, she wants Pirokalpin’s music to be able to heal and let people regain sights that they may have lost.
[ tesla wa nakanai. | “Tesla doesn’t know how to cry. ]
While the band name can literally translate to “Tesla does not (or cannot) cry”, Gt./Vo. Murakami reiterates in an interview that the name should be interpreted as “Tesla does not know how to cry”, putting emphasis on the concept of “not knowing how” as opposed to “not being able”. When asked about the origins of their band name, Murakami notes that they really wanted to go with “[something] does not know to cry” (possibly in reference to their up-beat and high tempo sound), and over the hundred or so potential names they could come up with, out of nowhere they thought of the name “Tesla”. In a way, the lack of any real connection to Nikola Tesla and his propensity to shed tears is in itself a fairly amusing turn of events.
. . . . . . . . .
[ ……… | ……… ]
The Japanese Alternative Idol scene has been home to some pretty cool (mostly edgy) group names over the years. You have BiSH which, believe it or not, stands for “brand new idol sh*t”; recent Round-Up standout Yanakoto Sotto Mute (meaning “[to] quietly mute out all the bad things”); the gritty Zenbu Kimi no Sei da, or “everything is your fault” and their sister group almost-impossible to say Yukueshirezutsurezure; but nothing, and I mean nothing, takes the cake in my opinion at least than the one and only ………. Commonly referred to as simply “Dots” or “DotsTokyo” (out of ease more than anything), the group name is quite literally… just nine periods in succession, with each full stop representing a member of the 9-girl unit. Yeah (xD).
Base Ball Bear
[ base ball bear | “Base Ball Bear” ]
Having first formed in high school early on, the band had already taken up the name “PLNET” (which we can assume is a play on the word “planet”). Once they got signed by EMI Music Japan however, they had been advised by their producer to come up with a different band name. Gt./Vo. Koide Yusuke was a fan of Japanese singer CHOCOLAT, and had taken a liking to one of her song titles “Base Ball and Elvis Presley“, which led him to propose the name “Base Ball”. The other band members complained shortly thereafter, stating they should at least add another word to it. In the end they settled on the word “Bear” for the alliteration. The band has since stated that they didn’t choose the name because they liked base ball or bears particularly.
[ polkadot stingray | “Polkadot Stingray” ]
Gt./Vo. SHIZUKU explains that when she and her fellow band mates were deciding on what their band name would be, she had wanted a name that packed a punch, to which she pointed to a specific moment in her past. Whilst working part-time, one of her co-workers had come up to her and said “Apparently there’s a species of stingray called the Polka-Dot Stingray. Doesn’t that name pack quite a punch?”. SHIZUKU, greatly amused by this revelation, wrote down the name on her phone’s notepad for her to recall the factoid if need be. Interesting to note is that the band’s mascot isn’t a stingray but is instead a cat. SHIZUKU adds that while she did try to draw a stingray once, it didn’t come out nice.
[ peroperoshiteyaritaiwazu. | “[The] ‘We want to do it’s ]
Now performing as “PERO”, the band first went by “Peroperoshiteyaritaiwas.” which roughly translates to “[The] ‘We want to do it’s” (well, literally it should mean something like “I want to be licking” but you get the picture). Gt. Vo. Mukaidaa Mei notes that it was a name that resonated well with the college students, and that she wanted a name that wasn’t girly, and aimed instead for a bit of a “gap” feeling (where some audience members were surprised to see that they were a girl band). She adds that it’s like that thing where once you see it you won’t be able to forget. The band had to drop the name (for obvious reasons) once they went public. When asked if she regrets the change, Mukaidaa states that at least now she’s not embarassed to tell her friends about the band she’s in.
MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS
Uhh, gross? XD I did look it up, and yes, this is just a random string of some of vocalist Miyamoto’s favorite words.
Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas
Now, this is completely unfounded on my end, but I’m almost certain the reason for that unnecessary comma is to avoid potential copyright claims
Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her
…Need I say more?
Okay, ngl, I had SOOOO much fun compiling this list and writing up this post (might revisit this theme and make a volume 2 or something xD).To tell you the truth I didn’t really know the origins of most of the band/group names I featured on here until I started writing this post (and only really chose ’em because they stood out to me) but the ones I did manage to do research on ended up being surprisingly interesting and really made me appreciate them that much more.
This Feature List has been a long time coming (alongside many others) so I’m glad I was finally able to push this one out. As I’ve said before, you guys will get these when they come, but if y’all have any ideas for lists that you’d like to see on here then by all means drop a suggestion down in the comments section below.
What are some of your favorite Japanese band/artists names? I’d love to hear ’em!
This was definitely an interesting post! Never really gave band names much thought but now that I think about it, there are some interesting ones I’ve seen before. One I can think of is DADARAY, which is a combination of the “Dadaism” art movement and “ray” (in terms of light). In their words, it apparently portrays “the light destroy the established order and common sense”… which probably makes sense if I knew what the lyrics were about within their songs lol. Another one I found interesting was Nujabes. Even though it’s pretty simple (it’s just his name, Seba Jun, backwards), I still found it intriguing that he created a cool and memorable alias just from that quick change of his own name.
Dots is certainly a band name that’s completely unique to me but just from the name alone, they definitely spark some interest from myself (lol). Also I didn’t know that’s how Polkadot Stingray got named! And the fact that their mascot is not just any cat but Shizuku’s own Bibi… it’s a little amusing that she was fond of making her own pet the face of their band 😛
Thanks! After seeing so many cool and unusual band names over the years the thought just came to me that there’s already so many of them that I know of (and there’s certainly more out there that I haven’t come across yet for sure xD). Ooooh, never knew that about DADARY, though admittedly I had Gesu no Kiwami Otome as a potential entry on here. “Nujabes” was a shocker for me the first time I learned that it was just his name backwards, Haha!
It becomes even funner too when you find out that Dots’ first EP is titled “「」”, literally a blank space (lol) And yeah, I was surprised at that little anecdote from Shizuku when I did the research on it. I know she has a pet cat, but I actually didn’t know that it was the inspiration for the band’s mascot image! You’d think I’d put two and two together but (xD)
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