Photo credit: takako tominaga
Sometimes, it makes sense not to purchase tickets through regular channels but from a re-seller instead. It might actually be the only option, for example if the event or desired seat category is already sold out. Another reason could be, that you want to purchase a better seat or admission number than available through general sale.
In some rare cases, resale tickets might even cost less! However, I wouldn’t keep hopes up too much; in 9 out of 10 cases resale tickets are sold at considerably higher prices than face value.
If you are looking to buy resale tickets, here are the options, including Japanese as well as international sites and platforms.
The two main Japanese online platforms specialized in event tickets are Ticket.co.jp (aka Ticket Ryuutsuu Center) and Ticket Street. Ticket Camp used to be a popular option too, but they were shut down permanently due to legal issues (allegedly related to using pictures of Johnny’s artists without permission).
The advantages of those sites include their reliability (the operators act as an escrow between parties) and the fact that many sellers disclose the approximate seat location of their tickets. Also, foreign credit cards seem to work, at least in some cases
One downside are the sometimes very high ticket prices and fees. Also, it can be difficult to impossible for foreigners to purchase from them, either because tickets can only be shipped to Japanese addresses, or because of the language barrier. The systems can be a little tricky for newcomers so we recommend to buy on those sites only if you know what you are doing.
Yahoo! Auctions (aka Yafuoku; similar to eBay in other countries) is also extensively used for ticket trading.
Buying from there requires you to contact the seller in Japanese by internal message. Sellers might refuse selling to someone who doesn’t live in Japan, so a forwarding service might be necessary if you are not in Japan. Note however, that forwarding services such as TENSO include event tickets on the list of goods they don’t ship abroad.
If you decide to purchase from Yahoo Auctions, make sure to conduct due diligence on the seller and to use the Yahoo Auction’s own escrow service (Yahoo!かんたん決済) when paying. Scammers are very rare but not unheard of.
Also note that recently some event promoters try to crack down on ticket resale by blocking the seats, if the seat number is openly visible on online auctions. That is why most sellers censor the seat number on the uploaded pictures, and only to mention the approximate seat location in the description. To reduce the risk, only to consider offers where the exact seat/admission number is not disclosed, and all the bar codes and long numbers on the ticket photo are not recognizable either.
It is important to note though that those sites tend to have pretty high mark-ups. A higher price does not necessarily mean a better seat (the same tickets could be listed at various prices). Also, even if you order early on, it’s not uncommon that the tickets are shipped only shortly before the show date (making it necessary to update the shipping address to your address in Japan).
While there’s always a small chance that a reseller doesn’t deliver correctly, the above mentioned sites are well established and usually have a ticket guarantee in case of trouble. Beware of less legit international sites out there.
Recently, the three largest official ticket retailers (eplus, Ticket Pia and Lawson Tickets) as well as some fan clubs have introduced a “resale feature” for a limited number of events. It’s quite complicated and we’re yet to see wider adoption, but here is how it works:
If the ticket has been bought online but has not been shipped or printed yet (or if the ticket is a cell phone ticket) the ticket agents can still transfer it to another customer, if the initial buyer is willing to sell it. However, the seller has to sell it through the site he/she has bought the ticket from. The new buyer will then be able to buy it at the regular price.
As mentioned above, chances that this option is available for your event of interest is rather small. Also, as a buyer the process is similar to buying a regular ticket from that retailer. Foreigners will thus face the same hurdles. Nevertheless, since tickets bought early usually have better seat numbers, it might make sense to purchase them through the resale feature, even if the event is not sold out yet.
This tends to have a lower rate of success, but there’s always a fan somewhere, trying to sell their ticket (possibly even at face value). It helps to know where the artist’s fan base tends to hang out on the internet.
Some places to start:
Facebook (check if there’s an event page), fan forums, craigslist, twitter, reddit.
If you are in Japan already, you might be able to get lucky at a ticket resale shops (aka Kinken Shops 金券ショップ). They sell 2nd hand tickets (not only for concerts but also train tickets, shopping vouchers, stamps, etc), usually at higher prices if good seats or sold out, but sometimes at a discount, especially on the day of the event).
In Tokyo, resale shops that carry concert tickets can be found in Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Ueno near the JR train stations. In Osaka most are located around Namba and south of Umeda station.
Also see our article “Best Kinken Shops in Tokyo”.
This is mentioned last, because we don’t really recommend it.
No matter if sold out or not, there might also be scalpers hanging around near the venue. Oftentimes, they will hold their tickets and a wallet in the same hand in a visible manner (as a sign that they have tickets for sale).
At least in Tokyo, it is not legal to sell/buy 2nd hand tickets in the vicinity of the venue. Thus, most scalpers are a bit shady and possibly part of Yakuza-controlled groups. Sometimes police keeps an eye on them and cases were the buyer is fined too are not unheard of.
For those reasons that we don’t recommend going that route. In some cases it might be the absolute last chance, though.