How to Buy Tickets if You Are Not in Japan
For most concerts in Japan, tickets are sold through at least one of the major online ticket retailers (similar to Ticketmaster in other countries). However, none of them has a page in another language than Japanese. To make things more difficult for overseas customers, credit cards issued outside of Japan oftentimes don’t work and tickets are not sent abroad. E-tickets are not common, either.
There are few exceptions though:
Some events which are popular among foreigners, such as some summer music festivals (Summer Sonic, Fuji Rock, Punkspring, etc.) do usually have English ticket sites, although overseas ticket sale usually starts later than Japanese sale and the number of tickets can be limited. Make sure to check the event pages since that is the easiest option for foreign buyers. Tickets can usually be collected at the venue (“will call”).
For 99 percent of concerts in Japan, however, it’s virtually impossible to purchase tickets from abroad through the official online channels. The remaining options are:
- Buy when in Japan (at a convenience store, local resellers or the box office at the venue)
If you are sure the concert wont be sold out and tickets are not numbered (or you don’t mind being in the back of the hall). For most concerts of rather unknown bands at small venues, you can most probably buy the ticket at the box office. More popular acts might sell out quickly, or you might only be able to get one of the bad seats (in the back rows or sometimes even behind the stage).
If sold out, you can try your luck at the local ticket reseller shops (“kinken” shops) or from scalpers outside the venue before the concert starts (note that scalping/buying from scalpers in the vicinity of the concert is usually illegal and are usually done by professionals associated with the Japanese mafia/Yakuza). Be prepared to pay very high prices at such places. For more information about purchasing in Japan see our article here..
- Ask a friend or acquaintance in Japan
If you know someone in Japan who you could ask for a favor, that might be your best option. Be advised to check beforehand whether the show is likely to sell out and if your contact is free at the hour the tickets go online. Once general sale has started, tickets can vanish in a matter of seconds. Oftentimes, fan club members can order tickets first, and the broader public gets whatever is left, so you might want to ask your friend to help with becoming a fan club member, early on. There are also public preorder lotteries, sometimes. Again, your Japanese friend might be able to track those down to improve your chances.
Don’t forget to bring your ticket angel a souvenir from abroad! ;)
If you don’t know anyone in Japan who could help, you might be interested in our ticket shopping service (also see 4.)..
- Auctions or online resellers
The main platform for online auctions in Japan is Yahoo Auctions (eBay doesn’t exist here). You can find plenty of tickets there, especially for sold-out show. The bad news is: it’s virtually impossible to directly buy tickets from there without communicating in Japanese or having a local address where the tickets can be sent shortly after the end of the auction. Scams are not unheard of even with sellers with okay reviews. Similar difficulties exist with other the popular reseller sites such as Ticketcamp, Ticket Street, Viagogo and Ticket Ryutsu Center, which are otherwise a little easier to use and safer but similarly expensive. Beware that tickes which are sold with photos of the exact seat number may become invalid (seats might get blocked) because the artists and promoters usually don’t approve of ticket resale. At some events (especially Love Live, Uta no Prince, Johnny’s group artists like KAT-TUN or Arashi, etc.) there are ID checks. Fan club tickets and also some public sale tickets do have the buyer’s name on them..
- Online ticket shopping services
Because it is so difficult to purchase tickets from abroad, ticket shopping services (or “proxy” services) offer to buy the tickets for you, for a service fee. This is a viable and easy option to get tickets for concerts as soon as possible. It is recommended asking them as soon as you think about visiting the concert since they can check for early preorder opportunities in order to maximize chances. Note that sometimes tickets go on (pre)sale months before the concert date. Check out the Ticket Shopping Service associated with this site to learn more..
- Social networks and bulletin boards
If you have no issues communicating in Japanese you could also try your luck on social networks such as Facebook, 2chan or mixi.jp. There are usually fan groups/pages where fans resell their spare tickets. For small, sold-out shows, the “Japanese Facebook” mixi.jp can sometimes be the only place to find tickets online and at a reasonable price…given that you, or someone you know can access the site (recently, a Japanese cell phone mail address is required in the registration process).
If you’ve found another method which is missing here, let us know!