Guide part 1: Concerts & Musicals
Guide part 2: Fan Club Events

Over the past few years, more and more Hello! Project fans have been able to cross the oceans to see their idols in their homeland of Japan. But whether it be buying plane tickets, booking hotels, going to a concert, traveling to another prefecture for handshakes, or even just getting some downtime to sightsee, it’s a legit feat to plan your first few trips when you have little to no experience.

Starting with this article, I’ll be writing a series of Hello!Project specific trip guides, in hopes that it’ll be a useful reference for everyone who wants to take that very first trip, or attend an event they’ve never known how to get into before.

Since 2013, I’ve been traveling to Japan about 2 times a year, and have racked up decent experience in a variety of H!P events. I tend to make Morning Musume events my primary focus, but for the sake of science! these articles, I’ve also consulted my friends (who focus on other groups) to cover the areas I’m less knowledgeable in. Most H!P groups’ events work rather similarly, but rules and processes can always change depending on the circumstances (graduations, special situations, etc). I’ll try my best to keep these articles up to date so people don’t have to refer to 2-3 year old rules, but if there’s any doubt, ask the person on your social media feed who always seems to be posting about going to Japan!

And now to kick off this series of guides, I’m going jump right in with the meat of most trips: concerts. In addition, I’ll also cover musicals, which work rather similarly as an event.


Hall Concerts

Plan ahead:

Approximately 5 months before the tour begins, the first batch of tour dates are announced to executive H!P fanclub members. This news spreads online (Twitter, etc) so people get advanced notice of when and where things will happen.

Timing of hall tours for Morning Musume is very predictable. There’s a spring tour from March to late May, and an Autumn one from September to Early December. You can usually keep these in mind for loose trip planning ahead of time as it’s rare for them to break away from this pattern. Other groups also tend to have their group’s solo concerts in Spring and Autumn, but they may be live house tours instead of hall tours depending on the group.

Hello!Con in the Summer and Winter are also predictable in timing. Winter concerts are early January to Late February/Early March. Summer concerts tend to be around Late June/Early July to Late August.

When to apply/buy:

Fanclub (FC) applications for tickets are approximately 3 months before the respective concert dates. The window to apply is usually about 2 weeks. As more tour dates are added, additional application windows are opened for them.

Cost:

Around the 7000 yen range for FC and general sales. Price can differ by group. Almost always costs more by buying second-hand.

Language barrier:

Very low. The majority of a concert is comprised of singing and dancing and exciting!, so the language barrier is about as low as you’ll get for an event in Japan.

How to attend:

The official way: Apply through FC or general sales via a proxy service. If you want to join FC (first dibs on ticket applications, access to FC exclusive events, personalized goods sometimes), you would have to do it through a proxy service that would sign you up with their address. You can take your pick from numerous services nowadays, from Tenso to FromJapan to CDJapan. I personally use No Country For Tall Men as I’ve had a long established business relationship with them and am more comfortable with their turnaround times.

Sometimes there are also same-day tickets for sale at the venue, but it’s definitely not something you should bet on. I’d only suggest going for those if you happen to be close to a concert and are considering spontaneously going just for the hell of it.

  • Pros:
    • Official tickets are cheaper.
    • They come at base price no matter where your seat is. If you’re lucky, you could win a first row seat with 7500 yen.
    • The ticket has your name on it. For memento value, y’know.
  • Cons:
    • You don’t know where your seat will be. You could get first row, or you could be so far that the girls are a mere speck on the stage.
    • Applications are a lottery, so you’re not guaranteed a ticket.

The unofficial way: Get it via auctions/Twitter/resellers. While we at Selective Hearing do not condone this, the fact of the matter is that it exists. And sometimes it’s really the only choice you have if you’re unlucky, or just missed the application dates.

  • Pros:
    • As long as you can pay for it, you have a ticket. No risk.
    • You get an approximate idea of where your seat is if you wait til 2 weeks before the concert to get it. Tickets get mailed out 2 weeks prior to a concert so the ones up for sale will have the row and general area of the seat (left, center, right side of venue).
    • Getting tickets via Twitter or at the venue is usually cheaper than auctions as they’re usually just people trying to get rid of an extra ticket for a friend who couldn’t make it.
  • Cons:
    • Auctions can get expensive if you try to go for seats closer to the front.
    • Auctions can get VERY VERY expensive if there’s a special occasion, like graduations or hometown concerts. (Michishige Sayumi graduation concert tickets were in the 100,000-200,000 yen range for front half arena seats)

Extra notes:

Hinafes also works the same way in terms of applying and getting tickets by seat number.

In addition to general seating, there is also family seating. It’s usually the first 3-4 rows on the upper floors and it’s mandatory to stay seated in these areas. So if for whatever reason, you want to watch a concert more calmly, this is the area you should be going for.

Average difficulty to attend: ★☆☆☆☆
Super predictable in terms of timing, very low language barrier, and there’s almost always a way to get a ticket as long as you can afford it.

Live House Concerts / Naruchika

Plan ahead:

Announcements of live house concerts have been anywhere from 1.5 months ahead of time to 3 months ahead of time.

When to apply/buy:

Sales usually go up shortly after announcement. Application process is pretty much the same as hall concerts.

Cost:

Around the 5000 yen range. +500yen mandatory drink fee. You pay 500 yen when you enter the venue, they give you a ticket, and you exchange it for a drink at the counter.

Language barrier:

Very low. Same as hall concerts.

How to attend:

The only difference from hall concerts is that live houses are MUCH smaller and are all standing. Instead of tickets with seat numbers, the tickets are numbered for entry. The lower the number on your ticket is, the faster you get to go in and get a closer spot. There is also a women-only section near the side of the front, but it fills up quickly due the number of girl fans recently.

Extra notes:

I would reconsider these if you’re claustrophobic. Or have pan–

Average difficulty to attend: ★½☆☆☆☆

Not quite as predictable as hall tours but they’re usually announced well ahead of time. The venue is small but unless it’s the first or last day of the tour, it’s usually not too difficult to attain a ticket.

Special Concerts

For this kind of concert, I’m referring to something like Michishige Sayumi’s Sayuminglandoll revival concerts. While it also has general sales after FC sales, her sheer popularity has made it pretty difficult to attain any ticket. Basically the concerts that don’t fall into the previous two categories.

Plan ahead:

Announcements are approximately 2 months prior to the event. But since these are special concerts, there’s no predictable timeframe like concert tours.

When to apply/buy:

Shortly after the announcements. Application window is similar to other concerts.

Cost:

6000~8000 yen range.

Language barrier:

Presumably the same as other concerts.

How to attend:

Same application process as other concerts. Also, as long as there are general sales and tickets are not tied to name, the unofficial method is still an option.

Average difficulty to attend: ★★★½☆☆

The high difficulty in this case is mostly due to the popularity of the event and the low number of seats in the venue. The unofficial way is an option but will probably get fairly expensive.

Musicals

Plan ahead:

Announcements are usually 2.5~3 months ahead of the musical. Morning Musume’s musicals are almost always in June and are announced in March.

When to apply/buy:

Sales usually go up a few weeks after the announcement.

Cost:

7000~8000 yen range. Price may differ by group. Usually costs more when bought secondhand.

Language barrier:

High. The Japanese in musicals tend to be more complicated than that of common speech, so unless your understanding is pretty damn good, you’ll probably miss important plot details. I mean, I guess some people don’t care about that. But then why the hell are you going to a musical of all things?!

How to attend:

Pretty much the same as concerts. FC applies first, then general sales begin. Secondhand sales are also an option.

Extra notes:

I’m not too sure if there’s an established timing for other groups’ musicals. Some happen in the fall if you happen to be around and want to check out a show.

Average difficulty to attend: ★★★½☆☆

Pretty easy to get into but the language barrier is high. You could always go to a show just to see your favorite girls acting; it’s pretty cool to see live. But I wouldn’t make this the main event of your trip unless your Japanese abilities are pretty good.


Concerts and musicals are pretty easy to attend and the majority of people can figure them out quickly when they plan to go. Because of that, they make for a good base to start these articles on before getting to the more complicated events.

Next up in the series will be fanclub exclusive events, like birthday events, dinner shows, and bus tours. Look forward to it!