Concerts in Japan: 13 Things to Expect

Concert Japan Tokyo Liquid Room Nightwish

I wasn’t sure what to expect for my first concert in Tokyo. All of my friends in Japan keep telling me concerts in Tokyo are “unique,” but no one will tell me what that means.

So I decided to find out for myself.

1. The tickets are going to be expensive

The first “unique” aspect I noticed was the tickets were freakishly expensive. The first (and only) concert I went to in America was a Cobra Starship / 3OH!3 / Travie McCoy cost around $40 dollars, for three hours and five bands.

The Nightwish concert in Shibuya, Tokyo’s Liquid Room was $80 for an hour and a half (at most), with one band. It was worth it. It is always worth it. However, don’t forget concert tickets can be freakishly expensive in Japan.

2. You will have to pay for your ticket at a convenience store

I went with my friend to pay for our tickets at a nearby Lawson convenience store. She had reserved our tickets ahead in advance, we just went over to the red, Loppi machine, entered in our information (and confirmation number), printed out the receipt, took it to the front register, paid, waited for them to print out our concert tickets, and left. The whole process took about five minutes.

You can also pay at Family Mart (another convenience store in Japan). I will write a post about how to pay for your concert tickets at a convenience store soon.

Concert ticket Japan Lawson

3. It will be free seating

We got there (the Liquid Room in Ebisu / Shibuya) a good hour before the doors opened – hoping to get a good spot in line. Unfortunately there wasn’t any resemblance of a line. It was more like a couple hundred people squished in a room waiting for our ticket numbers to be called. The ticket number is based on when you bought your ticket.

4. Buy your tickets as soon as possible – the early bird gets the worm.

As I mentioned before, there was no line. Getting to the concert hall five minutes before the gates opened was the exact same as getting there two hours in advanced. They let people in based on their ticket numbers.

We were ticket number 586 and 587, respectively. The concert was sold out; we had purchased our tickets a couple days after tickets went on sale. As a result, we were in the latter half of people allowed to enter. They typically call in groups of ten starting at A 1 – 10; once the “A” tickets (which are special) are called, they move on to the normal numbers. Since I was ticket number 587, I had to wait bout thirty minutes until they called “All tickets under 590.”

Your ticket number is on the lower, right edge of the ticket.

5. Limit your belongings

They have coin lockers up in the waiting room. If those are full, they have lockers downstairs in the concert hall. Since people are smashed together, you aren’t allowed to bring heavy jackets, backpacks, or bulky purses. They kindly ask you store those items in the coin lockers (for about 300yen).

You also aren’t allowed to bring a professional camera, video camera, or anything with a detachable lens.

6. You will probably have to pay a drink cover charge

We had to pay an extra 500yen once they ripped our ticket and let us in the concert hall. Once we paid, they gave us a token to serve as our “free drink ticket.”

Concert Japan Liquid Room drink token

They have both soft drinks and alcoholic beverages, served in small plastic cups. Each additional drink is 500yen. I snuck in my own drink (oops), so I ended up not spending my token. I still have it.

7.  Ear plugs aren’t necessary.

Ear plugs are a necessaty in America (especially for metal bands). Nightwish is a Finnish metal band with lots of heavy drums, guitars, and vocals. I bought a pair of ear plugs at a nearby convenience store before the show – I wasn’t going to let damaged eardrums ruin my concert.

It turns out the earplugs weren’t necessary. The volume was loud, but totally bearable. I didn’t experience any pain, numbness, or ringing in my ears the entire night.

8. A mosh pit might happen, but don’t expect it

The first concert I went to was a Cobra Starship / 3OH!3 / Travie McCoy concert in Dallas. I went with two of my best friends – they ended up pulling me up after I got swallowed and pushed down by the mosh pit. We couldn’t get close to the stage at all – everyone was fighting and pushing to the front. It was terrifying.

The concert in Japan was completely different. Don’t get me wrong, eople were crowded up at the front, jumping up and down with hands outstretched. However, I saw a couple late-coming foreigners navigate to the front of the crowd with relative ease (taking two or three songs to get to the very front). I feel like that is unheard of in an American concert.

Concert Japan Tokyo Liquid Room Nightwish

Generally the crowd was pretty tame.

9. The show will be short

The show lasted about an hour and a half (tops). It was a great experience; the band was fantastic and the people I met were very friendly. It turns out we waited longer in line (we got there at 5:20, doors opened at 6:00, show started at 7:00, and finished at 8:30) than in the actual concert.

But I have no regrets. I think the show was fantastic.

10. There may or may not be an encore at the end

We didn’t have an encore. That was my own problem with the Japanese concert. At the end, the band bowed and marched off stage – leaving their instruments in place. The state lights stayed on for a 10 minute instrumental as the crowd waited, faithfully clapping and cheering. Eventually the stage lights went off, the hall light went on, and staff members appeared out of nowhere, ushering people home.

My friend and I tried an encore chant – a couple other foreigners joined in. But either the Japanese concert-goers had no idea what an encore was or asking for an encore at a Japanese concert is considered rude, because no one chanted encore.

It was a bit weird.

The Nighwish Concert in Tokyo's Setlist

The Nighwish Concert in Tokyo’s Setlist

11. You will get home before the last train

As I mentioned before, the show finished by 8:30pm. Concertgoers were quickly ushered out of the hall – my friend and I happened to be some of the last people out (we were taking a picture of the set list the band had thrown off the stage). I was home by 9:45pm, content, happy, but feeling like there was a little bit missing.

12. Japanese concert goers are incredibly friendly

I made a new facebook friend – apparently she knew someone who went to my university in America (Ursinus College). It’s a small world.

Even so, we met a couple of nice, friendly people who were more than happy to help out and chat with passing foreigners.

13. Basically the only “troublemakers” you will see (drunk, overly happy, trying to crawl on stage) are foreigners

I spent the whole concert screaming, jumping around, and singing along with the band. The hall was full of people just as excited as me to see this concert.

However, when the show was over and people returned to the fresh, Japanese night air, they immediately sobered up. There was no shouting. There was no yelling. There was no raving about how awesome the band was.

I was loud and obnoxious – but the only other obnoxious people I saw were other foreigners. Everyone else just filed out quietly wearing their matching Nightwish concert T-shirts and boarded the train in Ebisu station without a hitch.

The final bow from the Nightwish concert

The final bow from the Nightwish concert

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2 responses to “Concerts in Japan: 13 Things to Expect

  1. That concert was great! But yes, it ended very early, didn’t it? I thought a concert would surely end around 10pm at the earliest….

    Btw: I didn’t reserve the tickets, though. I just brought the number you need to get the tickets at the Lawson ticket machine. For every concert in Japan there will be a corresponding number (different ones for Family Mart, Lawson, etc.) with which you can find and get the tickets at the machine.

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