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, at least some (usually the most important) parts of their websites tend to be only available in 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. Another issue that has emerged more recently, is the need to install specific ticket apps with complicated verification processes.
The good news is that there are few exceptions; some events which are popular among foreigners, such as some summer music festivals (Summer Sonic, Fuji Rock) do usually have English ticket sites. Overseas ticket sale usually starts later than Japanese sale though, and the number of tickets can be limited.
For probably the majority of concerts in Japan, however, it’s still very difficult to purchase tickets from abroad through the official online channels.
In this article, we introduce the remaining options for foreigners who want to buy tickets from overseas.
Option 1: Official Overseas Sale
In most cases, this is the best way to get tickets if you are not a resident in Japan: purchasing through any official overseas ticket sale. Your chances of getting tickets this way could be little smaller than for Japanese buyers who might get to purchase tickets earlier, but this will probably be the safest and easiest option for you.
There is a caveat though: not every concert or tour in Japan has overseas sale. In fact, most don’t. However, don’t despair if you can’t find one right away!
First, the official site of the artist or tour might not link correctly to the English overseas sale. Quite often we see international artists link to “dead-ends” like Bandsintown, or a Japanese-only ticket agent.
Secondly, any potential overseas sale might only be announced (or quietly linked to) sometime after one or more Japanese sales.
Here are some tips for your search:
- Search for the show in our event calendar. Under “Official Ticket Information” on the concert page, we usually link to the official Japanese site, where you would be able to find any overseas sale after it has been added.
- You can also search for the official tour page created by the Japanese promoter on Google. You could try googling the artist while adding “ツアー” (Japanese for “tour”) or “オフィシャル” (for “official”) to the search term. Once you found the official event page, click any link that says “English” or “Overseas”. Note that you might have to scroll through the text of the Japanese page as the link might be somewhere in or below the information in Japanese.
- Another option is to check the English sites of the most common promoters of international artists below:
Live Nation Japan
- The major ticket agencies have English sites for overseas visitors, which – however – feature only a very small subset of events in Japan. They also tend to list events rather late in the process, so the best seats are probably long gone:
- Another potentially great option (because available in various languages and open to customers with non-Japanese phone number/address) is mu-mo Shop. The site frequently features tours of K-pop artists as well as Avex-affiliated acts. It will require you to use the AnyPass app to download digital tickets.
Option 2: Buying Once You Are in Japan
If you are absolutely sure the concert wont be sold out early on and tickets are not numbered (or you don’t mind being in the back of the hall), buying after arriving to Japan can be a valid option. For obscure bands at small concert halls or live houses, you can most probably even buy the ticket at the box office on the day of the event (not guaranteed!).
Once you are in the country, it will also be easier to purchase tickets online because you can make use of a Japanese mobile phone number (e.g. if you get a SIM from Mobal before or after traveling to Japan) to register on a Japanese ticket agency site, AND you can pay at a Japanese convenience store (often the only payment method available). For more information about purchasing (non-resale) tickets in Japan, see our article here.
Note however that popular acts might sell out quickly, not have a box office 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 are left with two options: choosing another date of the tour (Tokyo dates tend to sell out first) or buying resale tickets. These days, resale tickets are likely only to be available online. Local ticket reseller shops (Kinken Shops) and scalpers outside the venue are no longer a very viable options after authorities have cracked down on them (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).
Option 3: Online Ticket Resale Sites
The days of auction sites being full of concert tickets are over and many Japanese resale sites have closed down in recent years due to stricter resale laws. However, there are still a few local as well as some more accessible, international sites. It is also possible to purchase resale tickets from official ticket agencies sometimes but their inventory tends to be limited. Below are some options, ranked by accessibility for people overseas.
- Viagogo – International resale site available in various languages
- TicketJam – Japanese resale site, only partially available in English
- Ticket. Ryuutsuu Center – All Japanese resale website
- AnyPass Store – English but very limited inventory
Important to note:
- There are reports of promoters searching on resale platforms for tickets which are sold with the exact seat number visible, and rendering them invalid (seats might get blocked). Therefore most sellers don’t publish the exact seat location online.
- 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.
- With digital tickets becoming more common in recent years, anti-resale measures are evolving and might require you to jump through a lot of hoops to get access (installing apps, registering Japanese phone number, etc).
- Resale tickets tend to be sold at exorbitant prices!
- While most resellers are legit, there are black sheep out there who don’t send a valid ticket. Your first choice should thus always be the official purchase channels.
Option 4: Asking a Friend or Acquaintance in Japan
If you know someone in Japan who you could ask for a favor, that might be another good option. It is important to note that this entails some risks though:
- Recently, more events require the name on the ticket to match the name on the ID of the concert-goer. This could be a problem, if your friend buys the tickets under their own name but doesn’t attend the event together with you.
- If you ask them to use their phone number to register an account for you, they will not be able to use the same phone number if they try to register an account for themselves someday.
- If it’s a digital ticket, it might be linked to their mobile phone which could be a problem if they are not attending the concert together with you.
- Be sure you trust and know them well enough! Random online acquaintances might disappear or not be reachable at the time you will need their help again (shortly before the concert).
- They might not be “ticket sale savvy”; even for Japanese it can be difficult to get tickets without some research and preparation.
- Tickets can be expensive! If you don’t pay your friends in advance, this could impact your relationship.
In any case, it’s a big “ask” so if they got you the tickets, don’t forget to bring your ticket angel a souvenir from abroad! ;)
Option 5: Ticket Proxy Services
Because it is so difficult to purchase tickets from abroad, there are Japan-based ticket shopping services/proxy services that offer to buy the tickets for you, for a service fee. This can be an easy option to get tickets for concerts as soon as possible but don’t expect them to be cheap.
Option 6: Social Networks and Forums
If you have no issues communicating in Japanese, you could also try your luck on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Tickets might be sold from fan to fan in the Japanese Facebook Group of the band or artist. Similarly, you might get lucky searching on Twitter with a relevant hashtag. Just be careful not to buy from scammers posing as fans (!), and make sure to research the event’s ticket distribution rules from the initial buyer to accompanying parties.