Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Japan trip 2012, and my first Japanese live concert

Welp, after less than a year, my wife and I are heading back to Japan this March. That's one of the perks of owning a Japanese business! Though it does mean we spend a lot of time working when we're there nowadays - Japan is no longer a vacation for me, it's a business trip. I haven't had a real vacation in years. The work we do is fun, though, so I can't complain. And we still have a few hours each day and a few days each trip to ourselves.

We don't yet have a lot of plans because we're still hoping to do the Twilight Express thing that I wrote about last year (before somehow mistakenly deleting that post), but it's just notoriously difficult to get tickets on that train, especially for the one room we want (the suite in the end car). We're keeping most of our days open for now, though.

One thing I've already mentioned we are doing is heading to NIPPON BUDOKAN (the Budokan) to see SCANDAL, who just happened to schedule their biggest show ever during the week we planned to be there. We just got our tickets! I'm excited - this isn't the first time I've ever seen a Japanese band (I've seen Dreams Come True, Puffy, and Boom Boom Satellites, all in NYC), but it will be the first time seeing one in Japan. Japanese shows always seem totally nuts on the one hand and supremely organized on the other - kind of like Japan itself.

I'm thinking it's gonna be something like this:

This was shot at Animax Musix, a yearly music festival for bands that have sung anime theme songs, basically (yes, this is a thing that exists in Japan). I don't think they could have attracted that big a crowd on their own at that time, but they obviously can now because this Budokan show sold out within fifteen minutes of going on sale to the general public. So even though we have some pretty bad seats, I'm just happy to be going - it's not easy to get tickets to a Japanese show from overseas, and we had to enlist my wife's sister-in-law in Japan to help us. Who the hell knew Scandal were so popular?? I've been following them since they were basically still college students making demo tapes. Now they're this big professional mainstream rock band selling out the 15,000 seat Budokan in fifteen minutes.

This is where our seats are - 2nd level, on the side of the stage. We are on an aisle, at least (I was a little imprecise with my circle drawing).

The system for buying tickets in Japan is pretty complicated, although it actually makes more logical sense than our system, where the general public often can't get tickets to popular shows at all until they pass to the professional scalpers (aka "ticket brokers") who will jack the prices up to ridiculous amounts. I remember the good old days, when that was illegal.

For this show, basically you had to be in the fan club to have gotten decent seats - they got first dibs. Probably the whole floor section is just fan club. Then there were about three other "tiers" that got to buy tickets before we could (people who had previously bought certain things in stores and had a code, or whatever). We signed up for the pre-sell lottery, the final tier before the general public sale. That meant if were among the winners, we were guaranteed seats somewhere. And we did win a spot in the lottery, meaning we didn't have to ask someone to stand in line waiting for 7-11 to open on the day tickets went on sale to the public. But these are the seats we were assigned - probably the best available by the time we were able to buy them. At least we're not behind the stage! Most of the tickets we've seen for sale on Yahoo! Auctions since we bought ours are even worse.

If you're overseas and don't have a Japanese address you can use or know anyone in Japan, then really the only two ways to get tickets to shows there are a) using a shopping service to physically go buy them for you or b) using a shopping service to bid on an auction for tickets after they've already been put on sale. Neither method is really all that reliable and both will cost some money. Or you can just go to a ticket broker when you get to Japan, but I don't think they really have tickets to sold out shows (or if they do, they're probably extremely expensive just like here).

We're actually hoping to go to some more shows while we're there but neither of us can find anything else we're interested in. We're still looking, though. I would like to go to a smaller club show somewhere, if we can find something good...

Anyway, watch for my regular updates on the stuff we're doing while we're there... I admit that I'm losing my ability to see things there from a tourist's point of view (it is my 12th visit to Japan), but I'm sure I'll still find some interesting things to talk about! And no doubt you'll see my Scandal vs. Budokan show report, at least.

I'll close with Scandal's latest single release, as performed on some Japanese TV show recently:

The US needs more all-girl bands. I'm going to have to start listening to The Bangles again.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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