Visual Kei

All info from Wikipedia
Visual kei (ヴィジュアル系, vijuaru kei?, literally "visual style") refers to a movement among Japanese musicians, that is characterized by the use of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics.Some sources state that Visual Kei refers to a music genre, or to a sub-genre of J-rock (a term referring to Japanese rock in general), with its own particular sound, related to glam-rock, punk and metal. However other sources state that Visual Kei's unique clothing, make-up, fashions, and participation in the related sub-culture is equally as important as the sound of the music itself in the use of the term.
Stylistic origins
Glam rock, Punk rock, Gothic rock, Metal, Alternative rock
Cultural origins

Typical instruments
Guitar, bass, drums, keyboards
Mainstream popularity
Mostly within Japanese independent scene; some followings across the globe


Visual Kei emerged in the late 1980s pioneered by bands such as X Japan, D'erlanger, Buck-Tick, and Color.

The term Visual Kei was created with one of X Japan's slogans "Psychedelic violence crime of visual shock".

Color vocalist "Dynamite Tommy" formed his record company Free-Will in 1986, which has been a major contributor in spreading modern Visual Kei outside Japan.

In 1992, X Japan launched an attempt to enter the European and American markets, but it would take another 8 years until popularity and awareness of Visual Kei bands would extend worldwide.

In the mid 1990s, Visual Kei received an increase in popularity throughout Japan, and album sales from Visual Kei bands started to reach record numbers. The most notable bands to achieve success during this period included X Japan, Glay, and Luna Sea; however, a drastic change in their appearance accompanied their success.

During the same period other bands, such as Kuroyume, Malice Mizer, and Penicillin, gained mainstream awareness, although they were not as commercially successful.

By 1999, mainstream popularity in Visual Kei was declining; X Japan had disbanded, and the death of lead guitarist Hideto Matsumoto in 1998 had denied fans a possible reunion. Soon after, in 2000, Luna Sea decided to disband.

In 2007 the genre was revitalized, as Luna Sea performed a one-off performance, and X Japan reunited for a new single and a world tour. With these developments, Visual Kei bands enjoyed a boost in public awareness, described by the media as "Neo-Visual Kei".


Visual Kei has enjoyed popularity among independent underground projects, as well as artists achieving mainstream success, with influences from Western phenomena, such as glam, goth and cyberpunk. The music performed encompasses a large variety of genres, i.e. pop, punk, heavy metal and electronica. Magazines published regularly in Japan with Visual Kei coverage are Arena 37°C, "Cure", Fool's Mate and Shoxx. Noted bands who at least at some point sported a Visual Kei theme include Dir en grey, Luna Sea and Malice Mizer.
Popularity and awareness of such groups outside of Japan has seen an increase in recent years.

Visual Kei Artist/Bands