I was recently asked by a friend how to get concert tickets for a show in Japan and she wasn’t the first one who’s asked me for help buying tickets. The easiest of course is if you’re already in Japan itself, but if you’re coming to Japan and want to get tickets how can you do it? In this post I will address both ways as best I can, and if you’re interested in how the concert ‘system’ works in Japan (buying goods, how to enter etc), you can refer to this post I wrote.
So where to start? Here is some vocabulary you will need to know and look out for when navigating sites (usually only in Japanese) for tickets.
受付 uketsuke or 受付中 uketsuke chuu (application/application currently open; 中 = in the midst of)
抽選 chuusen (lottery/ballot)
当選 tousen and 落選 rakusen (succeed or fail at a ballot respectively)
発売 or 販売 hatsubai or hanbai (sale, eg. チケット販売は6月12日から = ticket sales start on 12 June)
先行 senkou (usually 先行受付 = first round/preliminary application or FC先行受付 = Fanclub prelim. application)
一般 ippan (usually 一般発売 ippan hatsubai = public sales)
予約 yoyaku (reservation)
支払い方法 shiharai houhou (payment option)
売り切れ urikire (sold out)
発券 hakken (issuing [of the ticket])
期間 kikan (period, eg. 受付期間 application period, 発券期間ticket collection period)
枚 mai (counter for tickets. There is a max number of tickets each person can ballot for, listed as お一人様Ｘ枚まで ohitori-sama X mai made, with X being a number, on the site)
1. Find out where, and how tickets are being sold
If you don’t know any particular band you want to see, free music magazines at 7-11, HMV or any music store/livehouse will contain a list of bands and their upcoming shows. But you probably already have bands in mind so…live/concert information is usually written on the band’s official webpage, and can look like one of the following:
GACKT Live Schedule
ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D Live Schedule
The sites link to the ticketing services that you can use either to ballot or buy tickets. You will also notice that on the ROOKiEZ and GACKT site there are some “codes” listed next to ticket purchase details. These are conbini ticket codes – take the code to the corresponding convenience store and use the ticket purchase machine to buy your ticket directly.
Note: You will need a Japanese mobile phone number to purchase tickets via the conbini machine (it can be ‘expired’ or temporary, but it must be the same one used when you reserved the ticket online via the website)
WEBチケット予約 (web chiketto yoyaku) = online ticket reservation, which is with the band directly. This usually will not happen for big bands/musicians, but is very common for smaller bands and especially indie bands. Fill in the online form or send them an email with your name, the live, and number of tickets. On the day itself, queue up to enter the venue, state your name and pay for your ticket at the door.
Also, for indie/smaller bands, another thing you can do is check the website of the livehouses themselves, which sometimes also have ticket reservations or sell tickets at their office (some fans in order to ensure a spot at the front buy a ticket direct from the livehouse as those enter before conbini/reserved tickets. But you can only do that if you’re actually in Japan).
Or, you can go to any of the ticketing sites and enter the artist name in the search box. All ticket listings will appear like so:
2. How to buy tickets: Applying for them
Now that you know where and how the tickets are being sold, what to do? You CAN buy or apply for tickets while overseas but you will need a Japanese address and phone number (or you can use a service).
Applying/entering the ballot will look something like this:
(public sale online application will look slightly different, but the steps are the same)
A typical search results page will turn out something like this. I’m using the Lawson ticket site as an example, and these are screen caps I made to guide a friend through the process a while back.
You do NOT need to make an account for these sites but if you don’t, you will need to enter personal details everytime. This is where you put in a Japanese address and phone number (please remember the phone number as you’ll need it when accessing the machine at the conbini).
After choosing the desired date of the concert and checking the details, you would come to a page like this. For VAMPS as they were playing some two weeks or so in Osaka you could make choices. This happens if the ticket sales are not for individual dates but for multiple dates (usually in the same area).
Usually in the red text (boxed in red) are things you have to take note of, for example, each person can only ballot once per concert listing and only up to 2 tickets per ballot.
For payment option (支払い方法 shiharai houhou) choose Credit Card (クレジットカード) and then collection option you can choose to post it to the Japanese address you entered, or to do collection at conbini.
If it’s a ballot, the results (結果 kekka) will be emailed to you after the application period is over. The email title will look something like this:
抽選結果のお知らせ chuusen kekka no oshirase (Information about ballot result)
And you will either succeed, 当選 (tousen)
or fail, which they’re ever polite about and write it as
残念ながら、お申し込みいただいた公演のチケットはお取りすることができませんでした。which are both just long winded and formal ways of saying “We are very sorry but we could not prepare/get tickets for you for this show.” so just look out for 残念 (zannen, unfortunately…).
*refer to Fanclub section for more screenshot examples.
Now that you’ve successfully attained tickets through a ballot, now it’s time to pay! If you chose to pay via credit card then it will just be charged automatically. If not, you can pay at a conbini anywhere in Japan! Payment information will be included in the email as a link.
The underlined part is red in the payment code they give you, followed by instructions on how to use the machine. Please note you can only pay at certain convenience stores that correspond to the site you used.
L-tike = LAWSON, Ticket Pia = 7-11, Circle K Sunkus, e-plus = all conbini but usually Family Mart/7-11
Usually, if tickets are sold months in advance for a concert, ticket collection (発券) will start sometime a week or so before the show. So you can pay for your ticket with a credit card (most major cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted) and then collect it with your collection code when you are physically in Japan itself.
I am not sure if this is applicable to ALL concerts so the safest bet is to post the tickets to a friend in Japan, and have them pass or mail it to you.
Please refer to the videos linked above on how to use the Loppi/Pia machines or you can also find a few on YouTube.
Note: Japanese mobile phone number also needed for collection of tickets/payment (should be the same one you used for the online application)
3. Fanclub Tickets
Most bands have a Fan club and Fan club always has priority in buying of tickets, and sometimes is the only way you can get a ticket (for groups with behemoth followings like Arashi, for example). The basic premise is that tickets are sold to fanclub first and the remainder goes to public sales. The public sales are either done like in AAA’s example with pre-balloting or only opens once, where it’s then free for all fastest fingers first.
Fanclub ballots are usually held on the fanclub webpage itself, and details are sent out to FC members via email or mail. Sometimes, it is on an external ticketing site but you will require a special code to access the ballot, details of which will also be sent to FC members. Ballot results are sent at a later date, or can be checked on the FC webpage.
Look out for 当選 tousen (successful ballot) and 落選 rakusen (failed ballot, or 残念 zannen [unfortunately…]). If you get the tickets, it’s time to pay (if you chose Credit Card payment, it will be automatically deducted) and details will be included such as the code number etc.
After payment, tickets are then posted to the FC address you’re signed up with on the site so make sure that is updated!! Or, depending on the FC, you collect tickets at a convenience store (grr GACKT is it too much to ask for pretty FC tickets instead of always having ugly conbini printed ones!?). The code will be listed which you take and enter into the machine at the store.
However, when I said joining a Fanclub is the only way of getting a ticket, it’s because fanclub tickets are usually all sold out and in the slim chance of some tickets left, they’re also very quickly snapped up. So it’s best to join the fanclub via a service or if you have a friend in Japan who is willing to let you use their address to join.
4. Other ways to buy tickets
On the day itself, or, 当日券 toujitsuken. This may or may not be possible depending on the artist, but if there are tickets left on sale, there will usually be details posted on the band’s site or twitter/FB etc a few days before the concert. For smaller lives, usually unless it is explicitly stated SOLD OUT (売り切れ) then you can buy tickets at the door, but usually for a slightly higher price.
For the following ways, I DO NOT ADVISE IT FOR FAN CLUB TICKETS unless you are going with the FC member who got the tickets in the ballot. In the event they check for FC ID or crack down on illegal sales of FC tickets you will be barred entry.
Buy a ticket online:
If you’re a member of online communities for an artist, more often than not other fans may be selling their tickets, or looking for someone to buy their extra ticket off them (eg. they got 2 FC tickets in the ballot and are looking for someone to take the 2nd ticket). Livejournal, tumblr, Facebook Groups are good places to ask.
Yahoo auctions: Many people take to Yahoo auctions to sell their tickets, usually at a much higher price.
Shops: Some stores in Japan sell tickets, not just to concerts but to sports events etc. Some (?) of these tickets are scalped so buy at your own risk.
From scalpers: Usually outside a concert venue, there will be people touting and selling tickets for sometimes ridiculous amounts of money. Again, buy at your own risk.
Beg: I’m not kidding. Some fans are so desperate for tickets they BEG for them outside the venues with signs asking for tickets and more often than not sitting next to or on top of their suitcases. I have no idea if it actually works though.
Use a Ticket Purchasing service: People who live in Japan may offer to purchase tickets for you, one of which is Kairai, which my friend used before. PLEASE NOTE THAT THEY USUALLY CHARGE COMMISSION FEES.
5. Ticket sales for overseas fans
I realised I overlooked and completely forgot about this when I first published the post but some bands DO sell tickets for overseas fans exclusively. VAMPS and LUNA SEA did so, posting the links on their FB pages which only non-Japanese IPs could access. I believe the site VAMPS used was NEXUS Web (correct me if I’m wrong) which also ships band merchandise internationally.
There’s also been an increasing trend of bands shifting focus to or realising the importance of overseas fanbases and catering to them, so I believe special ticket sales for overseas fans will continue to increase soon. I’ll update this section when the time comes.
Wow, finally we’ve come to the end of this humongous long-winded post which I hope has answered most of your questions! There are also other “special tickets” or events (such as in-store lives) held in Japan which I didn’t address at all but that’s for another post.
If I’ve missed anything or made a mistake or you just have anything you want to ask me, leave me a comment or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading!!