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Buying Tickets

Written by Muffin Song

UPDATE: As of January 2016, online ticketing is now available in English through the official site! See "Actually buying tickets" below.

There's a four-panel cartoon I know, where a woman is thinking, "Hm, I think I'd like to check-out this Takarazuka Revue." And then she sees a newscaster talking about the long lines of fans waiting for tickets behind him and is utterly discouraged. The punch-line is that in front of the theater there is a large crowd of scalpers trying to sell extra tickets.

This is a lot of information, but don't be discouraged. It's so long because we're trying to answer every question we've ever heard someone ask about the ticket-buying process. Not everything is applicable to everyone, and it certainly doesn't have to be a complicated ordeal.



Finding Out What’s Playing

You can find out about upcoming productions by going to the Takarazuka homepage.

A day or so after tickets have gone on sale Hankyu will begin updating the show’s ticket sales page with ticket availability. A circle means that there are still a lot of tickets left, a triangle means that tickets are running out, and an X means that tickets are sold out.



...and they're gone

Tokyo shows tend to sell out much faster than shows in Takarazuka. What’s the reason for this? There are a couple of factors:

 1. Tokyo is much more urban than Takarazuka. Where as most Kansai residents have to commute an hour to get to the city of Takarazuka, many more people actually live in Tokyo. The general audience is bigger and the location is much more convenient.

 2. The Tokyo Takarazuka Theater is slightly smaller than its Takarazuka City counterpart.

 3. A lot of tickets are taken before the general sale even starts. The actresses and staff themselves I believe have first dibs, and then Tomo no Kai. Each individual sienne fanclub also acquires tickets for its members through various means. Additionally, there are special performances that are completely booked for special occasions (for example, Visa had a special performance of Elisabeth that they completely booked for cardholders). There’s also soken, in which a star’s entire fan club will go to see the same performance together.

 4. Takarazuka fans often are repeat offenders. For diehard fans, it’s common to see a show five times (or more, depending on the extent of insanity ^^). Fans do this not only to enjoy the show multiple times, but also to support their favorite stars, as stars of shows that sell well are more likely to be promoted or to stay with the company. For this reason, some fans will actually sit through a show they don’t like multiple times.

This can all be a bit annoying if you really only want to see a performance once and have to fight with the fans who are trying to get their twentieth ticket. However, not much can really be done other than try to form a good strategy -_-;


Ticket Availability
Sometimes you will be able to buy regular tickets (as in non-16th row B tickets or standing room only) on the day of the show, but as a rule you can’t count on it for Tokyo Takarazuka Theater shows. The likelihood of regular seats being available the same day is greater during the first half of the Tokyo run than the second.

Generally speaking, weekends sell out faster than weekdays. If you’re busy during working hours, try the Tuesday and Thursday night shows.

Just to give you an idea of ticket availability for some shows in 2007:

Sakamoto Ryoma/I Love Chopin, Higher Than the Sky of Paris/Fancy Dance, Sakura/Secret Hunter, A/L, Never Sleep, Osaka Samurai, Hot Flower of Valencia, Kean, and Silver Rose Chronicle: Tickets were still available for some shows by the time the run actually began (about four weeks after tickets went on sale). Some of them were sold out by the time the curtain went down, some weren’t.

Yukigumi Elisabeth 2007: the entire run sold out in 30 minutes

The Black Lizard/Tuxedo Jazz: sold out almost completely sometime during the first day

Adieu Marseilles/Love Symphony: Sold out completely on the first day

Dal Lake no Koi: The Yokohama run sold out within minutes on Ticket Pia. Most of the other locations near Tokyo were gone within a few days.

Mahoroba/A Magician’s Misfortunes: As of this writing it’s about a week until the Tokyo run starts and 90% of tickets appear to be sold out. Go tsukigumi.

The following tickets generally sell out just about instantaneously (ranging from the first few minutes to the first day):

-the first and last performances of Grand Theater shows (and to a lesser extent, non-Grand Theater shows too)
-shinjinkouen shows
-final show runs for otokoyaku top stars (depending on the popularity of the star)
-TCA specials
-dinner shows
-productions of Elisabeth or Rose of Versailles
-SS tickets, particularly on the first floor

For the above sorts of shows, you probably want to be there the second shows go on sale. I wish I were kidding. Even then, you may be sadly looking at a lot of X’es and pondering exactly how much you’re willing to spend on Yahoo! Auctions.

The opening and closing weekends of a run don’t sell out quite as fast as the above, but they’re still one of the first things to go. Also, national tours in locations near or in Tokyo are often a fast sell. (Or at least they were when I tried to get tickets to the Yokohama performance of Dal Lake no Koi. That may have also been influenced by Dal Lake being a classic).


Toujitsuken (Same-day tickets)

Toujitsuken literally means "same-day ticket", and these are tickets that are purchased on the day of the performance. Both the Takarazuka Grand Theater and the Tokyo Theater have toujitsuken availble, and they work like this:

On the day of the show:
  • If the show is not sold out, you can purchase any tickets still available.
  • 42 seats in the last row of seats in the balcony (toujitsuken B-seats) are deliberately not sold until the day of the show. They are only 2500 yen. However, the view of the very top of the stage sets is often obscured when sitting in the back of the balcony.
  • Once all of the seats in the theater have been sold (including the toujitsuken B-seats), the ticket office will begin selling tachimi tickets. Tachimi literally means "standing-view", and these tickets entitle you to stand in certain sections of the theater. Yes, that's right, stand. For the entire show. It's not so bad as it sounds, actually. Tachimi are 1500 yen.

If a show is popular, or if it's a weekday, you'll want to get to the theater and get in line before the box office opens. As a general rule, it opens at 10:00 AM. However, on days when the line is pretty obviously full, they might start selling at 9:30 AM. In Tokyo, on a weekend, it's a good rule-of-thumb to get there by 8:00 AM if it's a sold-out show. (On the other hand, I've gotten there at 10:30 AM on a Sunday and gotten a tachimi for a sold-out show. It also depends on when in the run it is.) If it's a popular show, 6 AM isn't out of the question.

The rule is, one person, one ticket. So you can't stand in line alone and get tickets for all of your friends. However, at the Tokyo Theater it's perfectly acceptable to leave a bag to mark your place in line, and wander away to watch irimachi (just don't leave anything valuable unattended). Bringing a small blanket or mat is even better for marking your place (and it's more comfortable).

Some days have two performances, and two lines will form. There will be signs posted, with the show time and an arrow showing which line is which. In the Tokyo Theater, in bad weather, or if the lines are getting unmanagable and taking up too much sidewalk, they sometimes put the toujitsuken up the stairwell that opens out to the left of the box office. When in doubt, ask. "Kochira wa saigo desu ka?" means "Is this the end (of the line)?" "Kochira wa toujitsuken no narabi desu ka?" means "Is this the toujitsuken line?" If you're at the end yourself, you might get asked these questions. If you're obviously foreign, it's less likely, depending on the bravery of the inquirer.

If you get up to the window before all of the toujitsuken B-seats have been sold, and you have your heart set on tachimi, indicate that you want tachimi. They'll set you aside in a seperate line, and as soon as all of the B-seats are sold, they'll sell the tachimi to this line first.

At intervals, theater staff will go up and down the lines, making sure people understand the rules, telling them what time that particular line is for (to be certain no one is in the wrong place), and letting you know how many tickets are available that day. They'll also do a body count, and sometimes let folks know if they're way past the cut-off point.

Toujitsuken for shonichi, senshuuraku, shinjin kouen, and performances with sayonara shows are a little different. Generally, it's tachimi only. Particularly at the Tokyo Theater, they have you call a TicketPia ticket line (03-5237-9000), starting at 10:00 AM the day *before* the performance. Again, it's first-come, first-served, and the lines will be jammed. You may have to dial and redial for up to half an hour. If you make it through, they'll take your name and phone number, and give you a reservation number. They'll tell you when to arrive at the box office the next day. When you do, they'll call the numbers, and line everyone up by those numbers. Having a number isn't an automatic guarantee that you'll get in, they give out extras in the case of no-shows.

- Tachimi

Tachimi are located in the back of the balcony in the Tokyo Theater, and in the back of the first floor in the Grand Theater. There is a bar running behind the last row of seats. You're expected to tuck your belongings out of the way as best you can, and you can use the bar to lean against while watching the show.

Tachimi in the Grand Theater and Tokyo Theater are radically different. In the Grand Theater, the ticket numbers are only used for your place in line. About 40 minutes before the show starts (they'll tell you the exact time when they give you your ticket) they'll begin lining everyone up by their ticket numbers just outside the main theater entrance. Just before they open the house to the entire audience, they'll march the tachimi folks in and up to the back of the first floor. Then they open the doors, and this is the signal for everyone to race for a place. Sometimes there are so many people doing tachimi that there are two or three rows, in which case not everyone is even guaranteed a bit of bar to lean against.

In Tokyo Theater, things are more regulated. There are actually numbers taped to the tachimi bar, and your ticket number corresponds to your place at the bar. There are 49 tachimi spaces. Thus there's no more rush to get to your place than if you had a regular seat. Shortly before the show begins, an usher will come through and ask to see your ticket, to check you off as being present. So keep it handy!

If the performance is company booked (meaning a group booked the entire performance specifically for their members tickets are not on sale to the general public), neither 16th row B tickets nor “standing room only” tickets will be sold for that performance. You can see which performances are company booked by looking at the show schedule. If the words 貸切公演 are written in the space for a certain performance, that means it is company booked.

For special shows (first show of the run, last show of the run and shinjinkouen) Hankyu includes the 16th row B seats in the general sale instead of selling them day of. There are still “standing-room only” tickets for some of these shows, but they can only be bought the day before the performance by calling the box office when it opens at 10:00. The one time I did this, I was told to come to the theater at 5:00 the day of the performance. We were then given numbers based on how early we were able to get through on the phone, told to stand in line, and were called out in small groups to buy tickets.

Occasionally 16th row B tickets and standing-room only tickets will go on sale at 9:30 instead of 10. Hankyu will usually post about this in advance on the Takarazuka website.

Some people enjoy standing-room only tickets. Personally, I prefer having a seat. My legs tend to get tired after standing up for three hours. You can sometimes get a more central seat with standing-room only tickets, but when you’re that far back I’m not sure how much it matters anyway. However, if you’re choosing between standing for the performance and not seeing the show at all, I recommend the former.

Hankyu has three or four handicap accessible seats in the back of the first floor S-seat section. If these aren’t sold by the day before the performance, they’re sold along with the other same day tickets for 8000 yen.

Luckily you can see exactly which tickets are left unsold by going to the Same Day Ticket page on the Takarazuka website. A circle made of two lines means there are more than 100 tickets available, a circle made with one line means 50-100 tickets are avilable, an unfilled triangle means 11-50 tickets are avilable, and a filled-in triangle means less than 10 tickets are available. Note: The handicap accessible S-seats never seem to show up here, even if they are eventually put up for sale on the morning of the performance.


Actually Buying Tickets
So, if you don’t want to wait in the same-day tickets line and you really want to go, what to do? There are several ways to get tickets:

Some important notes:

-Each method of ticket acquisition draws from a different pool of tickets. Therefore, it’s possible for the entire run of a show to be completely sold out at Lawsons but tickets to still be available at the theater box office. Or vice versa.

-The ticket availability on the website is updated twice a day and is not up to the minute. If a ticket you’re looking for is available on the website as of 4:30 the previous day and you’re worried about it disappearing, it’s best to either call or go to the theater first thing in the morning.

-National tour ticket sales are usually done a little differently. You typically cannot buy them at the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater box office. They are usually available either via a service like Ticket Pia or at each individual venue’s box office. Contact the venue for details.

-Lastly, don’t forget that all sales are final!

UPDATE: As of January 2016, online ticketing is now available in English through the official site. Foreign credit cards are accepted and tickets are held at the theater window so no need to worry about post. You cannot choose your exact seat but they do show you your seat number before you click "confirm." Buy here

Traditional methods listed below in case you don't have a credit card, tickets are sold out, etc.

 1: Go to the box office.

You can buy tickets at the actual theater. The advantages of going to the box office are seeing exactly where you’ll be sitting, being able to easily compare dates, and no extra middleman costs.

- Acceptable forms of payment at the box office include:
  • cash (only yen, of course!)
  • credit card: visa, JCB, and mastercard
  • PiTaPa (a contactless smart card ticketing and electronic money system used in the Kansai region)
  • iD (a Docomo electronic money system)
  • Visa gift card

Tickets for the run of a show do not go on sale at the box office until one day after they’ve gone on sale everywhere else. I’m under the impression this is to prevent lines from forming days in advance. In the case of something that sells out within the first half hour, you should probably try a different method.

You can also buy tickets for Nippon Seinenkan and Nissay Theater shows at the Tokyo Takarazuka Theater box office.




 2: Call the box office

I’ve called the box office several times but have never actually bought tickets over the phone. I would imagine that they take credit cards.




 3: Bid on Yahoo! Japan Auctions

The best thing about Yahoo! Japan Auctions is that you can order tickets without having a Japanese address if you use a service like Celga or Crescent Shop. However, it is an auction site and it’s not uncommon for popular tickets to go for a price significantly higher than retail. Also, you’ll have to pay middleman fees if you use an auction deputy service.

Note 1: Very, very occasionally, stories have emerged of fake tickets being sold through auction services. Use common sense. If you're using a shopping service, they will do the legwork for you. If not, check feedback and auction details just as you would for a regular auction.

Note 2: For those of you who use Crescent Shop, usually your initial bid goes right into place. For ticket auctions, the Crescent Shop staff has to approve the auction before they’ll make a bid. They’re checking to make sure that 1) the seller is reputable and 2) there aren’t any conditions they can’t meet like having to pay three hours after the auction ends. Once they’ve approved your initial bid, you’re good to go and can increase the amount any time you’d like. Since they have to approve the initial bid, you should probably try to get that in a day or so ahead of when the auction ends.



 4: Go to a Ticket Pia store or the Ticket Pia website

Ticket Pia is, as its name would suggest, a Japanese ticket selling company. They have both physical real-world stores and a website. The website is entirely in Japanese and Ticket Pia will only ship to Japanese addresses. You need to become a Ticket Pia member before you can buy tickets on the website, but not in a physical store. You can pay by credit card, but foreign credit cards have been routinely rejected.

To get to the Takarazuka section, type in 宝塚 in the search box of the main page.

For some shows of the run, the Ticket Pia website has a presale. You fill out a form containing your information and your first four choices of what times you’d like to go to the show. The advantage of the presale is that you’re thrown into the lottery like everyone else rather than having to use two computers with three browser windows open each in hopes of the darn page actually working when it’s busy. Of course since it is lottery, there’s no guarantee you’ll win. The one time I tried I didn’t win. The presale results are announced before the regular run goes on sale, so you’ll have time to try the regular sale if you don’t get lucky in the presale.

One option after you’ve bought your tickets is to have them mailed to you. The other is to actually pick them up at a Ticket Pia store. If you choose the latter, you will need to bring your reservation number with you.

Unfortunately, a lot of events go on sale at the same time and it’s not uncommon that the site will show a busy message right after sales start.

I’ve never actually bought tickets at a Ticket Pia store. I had a friend who bought tickets there the day they went on sale for Elisabeth, but when I tried to buy A-“R”ex tickets the day they went on sale at a Ticket Pia store I was told I could only buy them online for the first day. Not sure on this one.



 5: Go to a Convenience Store, such as Lawsons

Lawsons is a chain of convenience stores in Japan. Inside every Lawsons is a Loppi machine, where you can purchase tickets to various events. The machine is unfortunately entirely in Japanese. I’ve had some luck with coercing the clerks to help me, so that may be worth a shot. You can look up the performance you want either by entering the name or by using the Loppi code. You can find this on each individual show’s page on the Takarazuka website. Make sure you have selected the Tokyo run and not the Takarazuka one, as the codes are different.

When you’ve selected the tickets you want, the machine will print a receipt. Take that to the clerk, and Lawsons will actually print out your ticket for you at the store. You can choose what type of seat you want, but you can’t see where within that section you’ll be sitting.

Lawsons also has a website, but I’ve never used it before.


 6: Use a ticket buying service

Someone on Live Journal recommended www.fdjp.com. I haven’t used them before, but I think basically they do all of this complicated stuff for you. They seem to be more expensive than most of the other methods listed here, but at least they speak English and take away some of the hassle.

Japanese ticket clearinghouses like ticket.co.jp also usually have tickets to just about any show, for a price. The markups usually aren't terrible, but you will need a Japanese address and credit card to buy from them. This is the only ticket service that Crescent Shop will buy from.

UPDATE: myfavoritethingsjapan.com takes request by email in English. They will purchase tickets and ship overseas via EMS. The service fee is 20%. Easiest option for overseas fans by far, although not reliable for shows with a danger of selling out quickly.

 7: Join Takarazuka Tomo no Kai

Requires a Japanese address, and is a very complicated process involving applying for a Japanese credit card. It’s 1500 yen to join plus a 2500 yearly fee. You also get benefits like a discount at Quatre Reves.

You have a much higher chance of getting to tickets a popular show via Tomo no Kai than buying through the general sale, but some tickets are still extremely tough (ie. senshuraku for a Grand Theater show).

When you request tickets through Tomo no Kai, you can request what type of ticket you want but you don’t get to know where within that section your ticket will be. It’s really luck of the draw.



 8: Join a star fan club

Acquiring tickets through a star’s fan club works pretty much the same way as Tomo no Kai. You can usually only get tickets for shows that your star is in, although occasionally I’ve heard of being able to request tickets for shows performed by the same troupe as their star. Someone from the club will pass out tickets about thirty minutes before the show. Once again, it’s luck of the draw as to where within a given section you’ll be sitting.

This is just my personal opinion, but you shouldn’t join a star’s fan club if your only motivation is to get tickets. Unless you really want to be in that star’s club (and deal with all of the benefits and complications that come with it), you’re better off joining Tomo no Kai, which is cheaper than the average club anyway.



 9: Get a travel agent to book tickets for a group

I believe that tickets for groups begin selling earlier than individual tickets. However, you’ll need a group of 20 or more people.



 10: Attempt to buy tickets from people standing around the theater

I haven’t done this before so I’m referring you to Conceited Independence’s webpage (under “How to Buy Tickets From Other People”). Once again I’ve never heard of anyone being sold a false ticket, but use common sense.


This is too much work, I give up!

Depending on the popularity of the current Grand Theater show, buying tickets can get a little frustrating. If you’re not picky about what you see, consider seeing a Takarazuka show at the Nippon Seinenkan or the Nissay Theater instead. They usually don’t have a revue half, but many of them are just as good as Grand Theater shows. Three out of my four favorite shows played at either the Nippon Seinenkan or its Kansai equivalent Theater Drama City.

Created by caithion. Last Modification: Monday 18 of January, 2016 10:53:21 PST by Carly.

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