Saturday, August 24, 2013

Got my SCANDAL tickets! Also, buying concert tickets in Japan (from overseas)

Woo-hoo! What you're looking at is my ticket info for SCANDAL on November 7 in Tokyo. (I've since upgraded my seats, as you'll see at the bottom.)

This is the second time I've bought tickets to a show in Tokyo from the United States. I've learned a lot about the process now, because you pretty much have to if you want to do it successfully.

First, you think Ticketmaster sucks? In Japan, there's no monopoly on ticket brokers - there are a bunch of them, and even figuring out who is selling what tickets can be a challenge. We bought these tickets through e+, who are handling this particular tour for SCANDAL (I bought our Budokan tickets from Ticket Pia). They went on sale this morning at 10AM, or 9PM my time, and of course their site crashed under the load, as I've read it always does. My wife and I both were hitting refresh for half an hour, me on both my laptop and phone, before I finally got through on my phone at about 9:30PM. I was convinced tickets would be sold out already, but in fact I have a feeling we were among the first to get them from the general sale - row 3 of section C3 on the third level, seats 1 and 2.

See, every concert in Japan has various "lotteries" ahead of the general ticket release. First the fan club gets access, then any promotional partners, then there's at least one "pre-sale" lottery, then general sale. Both concerts I've gone to, it's seemed like the fan club got the entire floor section. At Budokan, there were at least three pre-sale lotteries that I know of, and I "won" the second. It is possible not to win - each lottery has a finite number of seats, and it's random chance if you get picked. If you don't, you try again in the next lottery, or in general release. Obviously, at every next level, the batch of seats released is a bit worse than the previous.

This time, because it's a "live house" (though with three levels and 3,800 seats, NHK Hall better resembles Radio City Music Hall than Irving Plaza), there was the fan club lottery, only one pre-sale lottery and then general release. I'm guessing the pre-sale lottery got the entire second level at least. General sale was probably only the third level, and maybe only behind the first or second row. (First row would still be desirable seats, so they probably aren't available through general release sale.)

In order to even buy tickets, you need a Japanese credit card with a Japanese address. At some ticket sellers you may be able to get away with an American credit card, but it doesn't seem like either e+ or Ticket Pia supports them. They actually check the billing address; it's not just for shipping, since you can actually pick up tickets at 7-11, Lawson or other convenience stores. Luckily my wife keeps a JCB card just for things like this - there are a lot of situations in Japan when you might need a Japanese card with a Japanese billing address, not just buying concert tickets.

There was a short period a few days ago when my wife was worried her card had expired - if that had really been the case, I'd have had to go through a shopping service like Japonica. I've never dealt with a shopping service for concert tickets but they can be spotty in general, because you're basically just paying somebody else to do what you were gonna do, and there's no guarantee they can get tickets any more easily than you could have. Same is true of credit card companies - AMEX usually says they can help with stuff like concert tickets if you have the right card, but they've rarely actually come through for me whenever I've asked for things like that from them, because they're just trying to get them through the web site just like you (theoretically) could.

If we hadn't been able to get tickets through e+ this time, my next option was going to be Yahoo! Auctions, which seems to be the most popular way for individuals (including fan club members with the best seats) to resell their tickets in Japan. Luckily I didn't need to do that.

There are also physical ticket resellers in Japan itself, but they don't always have tickets to every show and I was worried about getting to Japan in November, not having tickets yet and then not being able to find them. Obviously, the closer you get to a show, the less luck you're going to have.

Anyway, luckily this time it worked out for us, but it seems like it's always a lot more harrowing of an experience than it should be, and that's if you do have a Japanese address and card. I'm curious to hear about any experiences people have had with shopping services for concert tickets, because that seems like it's probably the only way for a westerner to do it if they don't have a Japanese card.

UPDATE: Tickets arrived!

Yup, two pairs. I upgraded my original seats with a pair I bought on Yahoo! Auctions, and (per the comments below) thought it might be helpful to show you what Japanese concert tickets from different sources may look like. The top tickets are straight from e+, the original ticket seller. The bottom tickets were purchased originally on e+ but picked up at a 7-11 (also an officially sanctioned way to do it). I know the top tickets are legit because I bought them straight from the original official source, but I scrutinized the bottom pair closely and my wife (who is a native Japanese speaker) did the same. From what we can tell, they appear original and legit and are not fan club tickets, but were most likely just bought in the first lottery.

I'm thinking about selling my original tickets, although I might keep them just in case there's a problem with the new pair.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It's a major award! I won it!

I'm heading back to Japan with my wife later this fall! First time since probably 2000 that I've gone twice in one year (and that was for work). I can't really afford to go to Japan twice in a year, but I don't have to - I won a contest. Facebook's good for something!

No business class this time, but that's okay - it's free! In fact, this will be the second of at least three free flights we're taking to Japan. Last time we flew business class on miles. This time, I won our tickets. Next time, we'll have enough miles to hopefully fly first class! I almost hate to say it (almost), but I'm slowly becoming George Clooney in "Up in the Air":

I don't spend a nickel, if I can help it, if it doesn't somehow profit my mileage account. Though I'm not building a collection - for me, the destination's the goal.

This is great movie, by the way - I highly recommend it. It's impossible not to fall in love with Anna Kendrick if you watch this. But everybody's good in it.

Anyway, we don't have a lot of firm plans for Japan yet, but you can sleep well tonight knowing that a bunch of new travel posts are coming. We're going to keep trying for the Twilight Express, there's another Scandal concert happening while we're there, I'm gonna request AKB48 tickets again, we'll definitely be hitting the ramen museum this time around, and I'm not sure what else yet. It's also possible that none of those things (except the ramen museum) might actually work out - everything's hard to get tickets for. But we always manage to find fun things to do.

I'll talk more about it later!

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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