This year has been quite a special one, with Japan opening up to the world again, and at the same time, we saw more Japanese bands seeking to perform abroad.

Our toplist for the year 2022 gathers notable visual kei and Japanese rock artists that have been breaking borders, performed impressive feats, and of course, created excellent rock music!

We asked you on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to share your favorite artists of the year—to influence our picks and the ranking—and this is what we landed on.

Top 10 visual kei artists

1. Yoshiki (visual kei)

While we’re all on the edge of our seats awaiting X Japan’s next album, Yoshiki continues fueling the arts in Japan and worldwide.

In 2022, Yoshiki composed the song Miracle, for Mana Kawabe’s free skate choreography at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

As a producer, he sought out the next big boy band with “YOSHIKI SUPERSTAR PROJECT X”. The award-winning documentary on X Japan, “We Are X” was streamed worldwide on Amazon.

In his “free” time, the legendary rockstar produced his own energy drinks under the Coca-Cola brand, “Real Gold XY”.

Rounding out the year, Yoshiki revealed his supergroup to the world, THE LAST ROCKSTARS, consisting of himself, SUGIZO, HYDE, and MIYAVI.

But that’s not all it takes to make a rockstar. Yoshiki also donated 10 million yen to support Ukrainian refugees. Then on December 22, he donated an additional 10 million yen to the same cause, bringing the total donated this year to 20 million yen. With much thought to “what makes a rockstar?”, we decided the first-place slot in the visual kei category is well-earned by Yoshiki.

If you’re interested in learning more about Yoshiki and his past, head over to our interview with the rockstar himself.

The Last Rockstars (Paris Mix)

Buy at iTunes

2. ACME (visual kei)

The year 2022 marked ACME’s third North American tour, “Wild fire”, and its first shows in New York City and Canada. This tour sold out at least two US cities.

While touring, ACME took part in the fan-led “ACMATE Summer Camp”, where American fans could meet up with the members one-on-one.

ACME also released three singles, and their first album in three years titled Resisted temptation.

The band continued livestreaming internationally via YouTube and has been wholly welcome to fans around the world.

Thanks to ACME reaching out to its overseas audience proactively, we received the chance for an in-person interview with them in New York City which you can read here.

Resisted temptation

Buy at iTunes

3. Kizu (visual kei)

Kizu kicked off a busy year of concerts and music releases. Perhaps the most notable activity for overseas fans this year was the third season of the vocal cover project, “Ichigeki”. Available globally on YouTube, the project invited twin-vocal collaborations with other great vocalists. At the start of 2023, we will also witness the project “Hangeki”.

Kizu collaborated with other bands in events, including “Vocal Summit 2022”, “BugLug Fes”, and the “Moi-même-Moitié Official Tea Party“. The band ended the year with a bang at Nippon Budokan as part of “Do You Know V-kei?”, organized by Maverick DC Group.

Although Kizu is still young, it is gaining a lot of momentum and has the support and respect of many veteran visual kei artists.

Little Girl wa Yandeiru.

Buy at CDJapan

4. MUCC (visual kei)

MUCC and its members have been unstoppable in 2022. The band celebrated its 25th anniversary, releasing an album, Shin Sekai and a follow-up mini-album titled Shin Sekai Bekkan.

In addition to shows across Japan, an exhibition, and the first leg of MUCC’s 25th-anniversary tour “Timeless ~Zekuu – Kuchiki no Tou~”, the members have been busy with their side projects.

Although MUCC’s activities did not take them overseas this year, fans living outside of Japan were able to enjoy the band’s anniversary from afar. Concerts were livestreamed, and the band also streamed past performances on YouTube in the days leading up to the release of Shin Sekai.

Shin Sekai

Buy at CDJapan

5. DIR EN GREY (visual kei)

DIR EN GREY commemorated its 25th anniversary in 2022 by closing down the legendary concert venue USEN STUDIO COAST, dropping its ferocious 11th studio album PHALARIS, and completing two back-to-back national tours.

Fans have also enjoyed more regular English-captioned updates on social media from the metal juggernauts, in particular the whimsical adventures on YouTube from drummer Shinya. On top of it, musings on Instagram from the usually reticent vocalist Kyo, who hinted at a possible international appearance in 2023. We say bring it on!

If you’re curious to know what we thought of the album PHALARIS, we prepared two reviews, one is here and the other one here. We also spoke with Shinya last time DIR EN GREY visited Europe to learn more about how the members grow as live muscians, read the interview here.


Buy at CDJapan

See the rest of the visual kei top list:

6. Arlequin (visual kei)


Buy at CDJapan

7. Madmans Esprit (visual kei)

Naneun naleul tonghae ulileul boneun neoleul tonghae naleul bonda

Buy at official webshop

8. NAZARE (visual kei)


Buy at iTunes

9. KAMIJO (visual kei)


Buy at CDJapan

10. Petit Brabancon (visual kei)


Buy at CDJapan

Top 10 Japanese rock artists

1. BAND-MAID (Jrock)

BAND-MAID cooked up a storm throughout this year! The newest EP Unleash soared into “Top 10 Albums Worldwide” on iTunes, accompanied by three music videos that drew four million views and landed a feature on the online magazine, Guitar World.

Off-screen, the metal minstrels rampaged across 20 sold-out shows in Japan and the US, including a fiery appearance at Aftershock Festival. They then capped the year opening for LA rock legend Guns N’ Roses at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.

For their commitment to the global “masters and princesses” fan base, the top honor of the Jrock category this year goes to the hard-working and rocking ladies of BAND-MAID!

We are currently working on more exclusive BAND-MAID coverage so please stay tuned! For the time being, check out our concert experience at the jam-packed Aftershock Festival.


Buy at CDJapan

2. MIYAVI (Jrock)

MIYAVI celebrated 20 years as a solo artist with his North American tour, a whirlwind circuit spanning 20 cities in the US and Canada. The samurai guitarist released an anime song cover album “MIYAVIVERSE -Anima-”, and two singles, and participated in YouTube Music Weekend.

Besides being a solo artist, MIYAVI is now also part of the supergroup THE LAST ROCKSTARS together with Yoshiki, SUGIZO, and HYDE.

MIYAVI took the starring role in the Japanese action flick “Helldogs”, playing the head of a major yakuza family.

Continuing with the theme of philanthropy, MIYAVI kept his hat as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on his trip to Moldova, visiting refugees from the Ukraine crisis.

Even though MIYAVI is nowadays categorized within our Jrock section, we were lucky to experience those nostalgic songs from his visual kei days when he played in the US. You can catch that concert experience here.


Buy at CDJapan

3. SCANDAL (Jrock)

The pop-rock quartet from Osaka, SCANDAL, remains relevant around the world with over 15 years as a chart-topping act.

In 2022, they released the album MIRROR, which reached number five on Japan’s Oricon Album Chart.

While an overseas tour to America was interrupted by COVID-19, they got healthy again for a tour across Europe.

In addition, drummer RINA’s charity “MAKE A WISH DAISY project” assists families and women in need of help throughout the year.

Without a doubt, SCANDAL shows great care to its overseas fans, and we could really feel that from our recent interview with them. If you haven’t yet, go give it a read!


Buy at CDJapan, JPU Records

4. NEMOPHILA (Jrock)

Japan’s hottest all-girl metal band, NEMOPHILA, made waves overseas in 2022. They sold out the famous Hollywood venue Whisky a Go Go and then rocked an international audience at California’s Aftershock Festival.

Finally, dropping a new album Seize The Fate while the lead vocalist mayu delivered a happy, healthy baby!

The band shows big commitment to the international fans, and we can expect to see them in the US again next year, with an already confirmed tour “Seize the Fate U.S. Tour 2023”.

We recently had the chance to talk to NEMOPHILA about their new music and upcoming tour plans, catch it here! In addition, we also have a three-part interview and report which can be found here.

Seize The Fate

Buy at CDJapan

5. SiM (Jrock)

SiM made the jump to the major label PONY CANYON this year, which impressively allowed them to perform the opening theme song The Rumbling for the popular anime, Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan).

With The Rumbling receiving music videos in anime and band versions on YouTube, the combined views now sit around 90 million and has inspired a slew of new fans worldwide to perform music covers of their work.

SiM also entertained the international audience with their own instrumental playthroughs, and participated in YouTube Music Weekend.

Topping it all off, the four-man band returned to tour the US for the first time in six years, selling out their Los Angeles show. They also livestreamed their concert “SiM XR Live” internationally.

We caught up with the band to learn more about their recent activities, as well as what the label change means for their future journey. Read our interview with SiM here.

The Rumbling

Buy at iTunes

See the rest of the Jrock top list:



Buy at iTunes


Break and Cross the Walls II

Buy at CDJapan, JPU Records

8. NANO (Jrock)


Buy at CDJapan

9. ONE OK ROCK (Jrock)

Luxury Disease

Buy at CDJapan

10. QUEEN BEE (Jrock)


Buy at CDJapan

We’d like to thank everyone of you who took the time to vote and read this year’s Jrock toplist. If you wish to contribute to next year’s toplist, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to voice your opinions!

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