Note: This post was written a while ago and some information might be a little out-dated. We recommend you first read “The 5 Basics of the Japanese Ticketing System”.
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) 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 a number of these festivals, as well as other international concerts, you can purchase official e-tickets in our Ticket Shop.
For probably more than 95 percent of concerts in Japan, however, it’s virtually impossible 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: Ticket shopping services
Because it is so difficult to purchase tickets from abroad, ticket shopping services/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 such a service 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.
Once such proxy service specialized in event tickets is Tickets Galore Japan.
Option 2: Buying once you are in Japan
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), this is a valid option.
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.
Option 3: Asking 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! 😉
Important: 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 his own name but doesn’t attend the event with you.
Option 4: Online auctions or ticket resale sites
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 popular reseller sites such as ticket.co.jp or Viagogo, which are otherwise a little easier to use but similarly expensive.
Beware that tickets 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.
Option 5: Social networks, bulletin boards 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.
Image credit: Dick Thomas Johnson, used under CC license