Imari Tones is a rock band from Japan.
It started as Tak “Tone” Nakamine’s personal recording project circa 1998.
It evolved into an actual band in 2004.
Tak Nakamine found his faith in Jesus Christ in early 2008, and decided to play Christian music.
Since then, Imari Tones has declared themselves as “The first Christian heavy metal band from Japan” and been playing internationally, touring the United States and Japan with other Christian musicians.
Although they are primarily known to play 1980’s style classic heavy metal, Imari Tones’ music is fairly diverse, combining the elements of Progressive, Alternative and J-Pop.
They might be another indie band in the world, but they are devoted to one special mission: Spreading God’s Love among people in Japan, and the world.
Imari Tones Biography (written in 2020)
Imari Tones is a Christian metal band from Japan.
They have a long history and their journey until now was not a simple one.
It’s hard to say since when Imari Tones was active.
Tak started recording music just by himself secretly in his room as early as 1998.
He didn’t have any intention of getting famous or successful. In fact he didn’t even have an intention of letting anyone hear his music. He started making music solely as a therapy for mental breakdown he had after the high school graduation.
However in 2004, his secret music project became an actual band.
Tak named his band after an ancient Japanese porcelain art, and also after his wife’s name.
They played Japanese style alternative rock, some punk and some J-pop. But eventually went back to the style they really loved. 1980’s classic heavy metal.
They flew all the way to Germany to record some mainstream modern metal songs with a renowned producer (called Sascha Paeth), but it didn’t feel right. They wanted to be indie and chose to do things in DIY.
So they went back to their hometown Yokohama and started playing shows locally.
However, all of a sudden, a miracle that changes Imari Tones’ music forever has happened.
Tak met Jesus and found faith in Him.
He had been wondering all the time why he played music. Now he found the answer. He decided to dedicate his music to Jesus.
After that, Imari Tones declared themselves “The First Christian Heavy Metal from Japan”. Because there was no other band in Japan that was playing heavy metal and openly Christian.
They made awesome albums such as “Victory In Christ” and “Japan Metal Jesus”, playing high energy metal songs such as “Faith Rider” and “Jesus Train”.
They toured in the USA and made a lot of friends. They invited Christian bands from the USA and Canada and toured together in Japan.
Imari Tones inspired other Christian friends in Japan and together they have launched a Christian Rock indie label called “Calling Records”.
In Japan Christians are a minority and they are mainly playing small clubs and churches, but they have passionate fans all over the world.
Everyone is surprised to find a Japanese band that plays Christian music in heavy metal style. They are also surprised to hear classic style metal music played in such an enjoyable way.
People are inspired because Imari Tones is unique and different.
Christian values might be considered conservative elsewhere in the world but here in Japan Imari Tones inspire people in a different way: Don’t be afraid to be different. Be yourself and follow what you believe in. For them, it was Jesus. That’s why Imari Tones’ message is unique, both in Japanese cultural context and in the world.
Seeking their own unique sound, Imari Tones has been incorporating Japanese traditional essence into their music. They believe Christianity is not just a religion from the West. They believe it can be found in Japanese Samurai spirit.
That’s why they made “Jesus Wind”, a concept album based on Japanese history. They sang about ancient Samurai warriors and Buddhist monks from a Christian viewpoint and made it clear about Christian influence on Japanese history.
In 2020, with the new lineup consisting of singer/guitarist Tak, bassist Marie, and drummer Koji Maya, they have finished making “Nabeshima” double album. “Nabeshima” is a fusion of Christianity, Japanese traditional music, and heavy metal.
Now having found their ultimate musical style, Imari Tones is ready to declare Jesus’ name in Japan.
(well, it’s old but it’s the only text written in proper English…)
Written by Phil Putnam
Of the long list of factors that make ImariTones stand out from the world around them, it is their drive, their reach that tops it all. An unapologetically Christian heavy metal band out of Japan, Tak, Hassy, and Jake have a passion to reach beyond their culture to make the music they love, and to reach beyond their music to bring Jesus into their culture. While drawing comparisons to legends like Van Halen, Rush, and Stryper with their hybrid of old school metal/glam/Brit/70’s prog rock, they are one of very few bands in the world that can claim true originality. How so? They are the first Christian heavy metal band ever to come out of Japan.
“There are very few Japanese bands who say ‘Hey, we’re a Christian band.’ A Christian band from Japan almost sounds like a joke, since most people in Japan are Buddhists, or Atheists,” says Tak, founder, guitar/vocalist, and frontman of ImariTones. Things didn’t start out Christian for Tak, though. Having started playing electric guitar at age 14 and joining his first band at 15, Tak gained local teen success in his hometown of Toyohashi and won awards for his songwriting. However, he quit the band at 17 to pursue a career as a lawyer. Music stayed with him, though, and while playing an acoustic show in Harajuku Tokyo in December of 2007, Tak was impressed by several Christian performers who were playing as well. Feeling that Jesus may be the larger meaning behind music that he always felt was there, his mind and heart opened to Christianity.
Breaking many written and unwritten rules of Japanese culture, Tak, Hassy on bass/background vocals, and Jake on drums/background vocals, are reaching upward and forward to see changes happen in the world. Currently based in Yokohama, their astonishing 15-album discography includes Hero of the Lights, Color of Hers, fireworks, Japanese Pop produced by metal legend Sascha Paeth (Angra, Edguy, Rhapsody of Fire, Avantasia, Kamelot), Welcome to the School, and their most recent release Victory in Christ. Not content to play the standard soft pop/rock of the major label Christian industry, their music is 100% heavy metal and 100% independently recorded and produced. Victory in Christ hit the street in October 2010 with the single “Faith Rider” leading the charge. Originally written as a parody of the big 80’s metal of Judas Priest and Stryper, it quickly became a fan favorite and was put on Victory in Christ.
With both their commitment to making stellar heavy metal music and their driving passion to share Jesus with their native Japan and the rest of the world, ImariTones is always reaching to join these two primary goals together. “Since we are a Christian band, our goal is not business success,” says Tak. “We are not chasing glory in this world. We are chasing the glory of God.” Staying independent and record label-free is an important part of the process for them. “We don’t believe in ‘music business’, especially in Japan, and have chosen to go independent, looking for our own way. We really want to change something about society and about what people think and believe. That’s our ultimate goal.”
That ultimate goal, to see their native Japan embrace Christianity, is what they reach for most of all, even while their sights are set on the USA and the rest of the world. Some think they’re a joke, or a contradiction, that Christianity, Japan, and heavy metal just don’t belong together. Some think they’re ahead of their time. But if you ask Tak, Hassy, and Jake, they’ll say they’re doing exactly what they love at exactly the right time, and they’re never going to stop reaching for more.