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.
(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.
Short History of Imari Tones ver.20190702
IMARi ToNES is a Christian rock band from Japan.
It started as Tak Nakamine’s personal music project and was formed as a band around 2004.
They played local gigs constantly around Tokyo while recording many songs and albums independently.
In 2006, they were invited to come to Germany and recorded several songs with Sascha Paeth, a renowned heavy metal producer who was known for his works with Angra, Kamelot, Edguy and Avantasia.
In 2008, they found FAITH and became a Christian rock band. They called themselves “The first Christian heavy metal band from Japan”. Since then they have been singing about Jesus Christ, trying to change the spiritual situation in Japan.
In 2009, they toured in USA for the first time and played clubs and churches in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, New York, and Washington state.
In 2010, they toured in USA again and played clubs and churches on East Coast. They also played Millennium Music Conference in Harrisburg PA.
In 2011, they did their 3rd tour in USA and played clubs and churches around USA, as well as the Christian music showcase/conference called The Objective in Nashville TN.
In 2012, they joined The Extreme Tour, a Christian missionary tour in USA, and played free shows for kids around North West region. They played at churches, skateparks, schools, juvenile detention center, as well as X-Fest in Stevenson WA and Nuart Block Party in Moscow ID, where they opened for a Grammy nominated band After Edmund. Imari Tones became the first Japanese band ever to join The Extreme Tour.
In 2013, they brought The Extreme Tour to Japan for the first time. They toured in Japan with other Christian bands from USA, Canada and Chile. Since then they have led The Extreme Tour Japan for 4 years in a row (2013-2016) and played so many places in Japan. The Extreme Tour Japan visited places like Miyagi, Fukushima, Aichi, Mie, Hiroshima, Kagawa, Chiba, not to mention Tokyo and Yokohama region.
In 2015 they teamed up with other Japanese Christian rock bands such as CLOD and Soul of Faith and launched a record label called “Calling Records”, that was the first Christian Rock label in Japan.
In 2017 they released a very special album titled “Jesus Wind” which is a concept album about Japanese history from a Christian point of view.
In 2018, their long time bassist and drummer, Hassy & Jake, left the band. They released an album called “Overture” which is the last album with Hassy & Jake and the first Christian album they wrote all the songs in Japanese language.
In 2019, they started playing again with a new lineup. Koji Maya, the new drummer, is a veteran who was drumming in a legendary Japanese metal band Anthem back when they were called Black Hole. Marie, the new bassist, has been playing with Tak for a long time in his side project “Atsuki Ryo with Jesus Mode”.
Imari Tones is standing in a very unique position in Japanese music scene, not only playing for both secular and Christian audience, but also playing for both domestic and international audience.
Slowly but steadily, they are having an impact on today’s local and global music scene.
One thing certain is Imari Tones is one of the few bands who sing Christian message strong and clear in Japan, where many people still don’t know Jesus.