Since I’ve been doing a lot of buying of concert tickets in preparation for my next trip to Japan in April, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the ways I use to get tickets to Japanese concerts from overseas. I’m sure there are a good amount of people who want to do this for their own trips, but are just too intimidated by the process. It does seem very complicated on the outside, but once you know the ins and outs, it can be surprisingly straightforward. Though as you’ll see, it really all depends on how the ticket sales are structured! I’ll cover as many different scenarios as I’ve run into, but that isn’t to say there aren’t other possibilities as well.
Up until a couple of years ago, getting Japanese concert tickets was extremely easy: You would just go on Yahoo Auctions and search for the concert you wanted to go to. There would always be plenty of scalpers selling paper tickets, and if you had access to a Yahoo Auctions purchasing proxy service that was willing to ship tickets overseas, you went through them to bid on them, and that was that! However in recent years Japan has been cracking down on scalping by trying to eliminate the sales of traditional paper tickets wherever possible. This means that more and more events are moving toward electronic tickets only, which typically means you need accounts and phone apps in order to even get your ticket and present it at the door. This obviously makes things a bit harder for foreigners, but not insurmountable!
First though, the basics. There are two primary phases in which concert tickets are sold in Japan:
Before ticket sales open to the general public, just about any concert will have a period where you can enter a lottery drawing to win…no not tickets! But the ability to PURCHASE tickets early! Often, but not always, this is made available only to members of the band or artists’ fan club (which also costs a yearly fee). It may seem ridiculous, but this is how you typically get the good seats. If you wait until general sales start, you’ll typically always be “in the back” because the fan club members or people who participated in the lottery already have all the good seats.
This is exactly what it sounds like: Ticket sales are open to the general public. There are no lotteries, you just use whatever service tickets to the event are being sold through to buy, and that’s it! Again though, if you want until this point it’s very likely most of the good seats are already gone.
No matter which of these ways you go with though, you’ll end up using the same handful of services to obtain your tickets, and that’s what the meat of this article is going to cover. There is no one of these that will cover any concert you want to see: You really should pay attention to the artist’s website to see how and where tickets are being sold. That said, there are a couple that will cover just about all of your bases.
Places To Buy Tickets From
There are a couple of different services that act as a proxy to buy tickets for you, but it’s important to note that they cannot do anything for you if the concert you want to attend only accepts e-tickets. They need to be able to buy through a service that generally allows for tickets to be printed out in a convenience store after purchase (see below for more on that) so that they can buy them for you, and give you a confirmation number to go and print them up when you’re in Japan.
Of course they’ll charge you a fee on top of the cost of the tickets, but that’s to be expected. And it does take a lot of the hassle of the whole process away completely. I regularly use Japan Concert Tickets, so I can definitely recommend them. They advertise mostly foreign acts on their site, but if there’s a concert you’re interested in just fill out their form and they’ll look into it for you, give you a quote (if they can buy the tickets), and send you an invoice via PayPal.
If you have a friend in Japan who’s willing to help you out with this, you could also replace any mention of “Proxy Service” in the rest of this article with “friend”!
This is a great site to use to see what concerts are available, and is very convenient to be able to pass a link to a proxy service so they can buy the tickets for you. Why should you do that when you can just create an account on the site for yourself? Well in order to verify your account, you need a Japanese mobile phone number! I’ve also heard that non-Japanese credit cards aren’t accepted as payment, though I haven’t verified that myself. This isn’t really that big of a deal though, since you can just have a proxy service pay, and pick up the tickets from a Lawson Ticket machine that’s at just about any Lawson convenience store in Japan.
This is the same type of service as Lawson Ticket, and tickets can often be paid for and retrieved the same way as I mentioned above. Every now and then you’ll get some concerts that list on Pia and not Lawson Ticket (and vice versa) though. You technically can also register for an account here too, but it requires a Japanese mobile number as well (more on that below) to complete registration. Pia is also worth mentioning separately because I’ve seen a couple instances of ticket lotteries being done only through them, and as e-tickets only….and this is where things get difficult. Because your options really depend on just how this is implemented. Here are the two ways I’ve seen it done:
I’m a member of The Yellow Monkey’s official fan club (surprise surprise), so I can only speak to how it’s done there. Yemon have their own mobile app which you’re able to log into to retrieve purchased tickets through their lotteries, assuming you entered the lottery with the same email address as you belong to the fan club with. While they do use Pia for the ticket purchase, the only payment options tend to involving paying at convenience stores, which requires a proxy service. I typically fill out the lottery stuff myself, since I need to logged in with my fan club credentials in order to get to it (you can’t really ask a proxy service to do that). After doing that, I typically just have the proxy service take care of the payment part of things once the lottery results come in. At the appropriate time, you can then just pull up your e-ticket in The Yellow Monkey app, and present it on your phone to get in. There’s no Japanese mobile number required.
This is a MUCH more complicated situation that’s essentially meant to keep non-residents of Japan out of the picture. I had to go through this to get my ticket to Persona Super Live (even though just after I completed all of this, only THEN did they announce special ticket sales for foreign visitors).
First of all, you need a Pia account. And as I mentioned above, this requires a Japanese mobile phone number. Why can’t you just use one that isn’t yours and be done with it? Because within a few minutes of your registration, you actually need to call an automated number to confirm your registration from the same number you provided! I actually had to have a Japanese friend do this for me, there was no real way around it.
If you can get this far, you’re pretty much home free. I THINK that Pia accepts foreign cards as payment. They were at least able to authorize mine when I was signing up for my account, though I can’t be sure if the full payment would have worked (The Persona Super Live lottery I entered into was a 7-11 convenience store payment lottery only). When you get a ticket paid for and assigned to you, you can then use the Cloak service (same credentials as your Pia account) to turn it into an e-ticket. And THEN you can download an app called “tixeebox” from either the Android or Apple app stores, and connect that to your Pia account to retrieve your e-ticket!
Anyway, that’s how you get tickets! It’s certainly more complicated than it is in America, where it’s typically nothing more than logging into a site, putting in your credit card, and then printing your ticket out (sometimes there are apps involved, but not necessarily always). This is probably due to Japan still not having fully embraced credit cards like America has, and convenience stores being so prolific there for so many different things. Best of luck to anyone who’s trying to get tickets to see their favorite Japanese artists!