FIRST: TICKET SYSTEM EXPLANATION + HELP WITH KANJI
All Arashi fanclub members are given priority on tickets for all concerts, and most events (such as stage plays). You can't be in the fanclub unless you have a Japanese address. All fanclub money transactions are run through Japanese post office ATMs, so you can't just use a friend's Japanese address, you actually need to be in Japan to register for the club and ballot for tickets.
You can, technically, have a friend living in Japan join the fanclub for you and have them ballot in their name, but for them to fill out all of the paperwork and adhere to all deadlines, they will probably need to really love you. I imagine it's the kind of thankless job only BFFs will come through on. Please note they have to join the fanclub in their own name, not yours. This is because if you don't hit for tickets, JE will send back a refund for your ticket payment in the form of a postal money order, made out to the name of the fanclub member. To cash it, you need to show photo ID at the post office. So it has to be the person who lives in Japan that has their name as the club member. If you have a friend join in your stead and they don't want to accompany you to the concert if you hit, have them write you a note saying they couldn't make it and gave their ticket to a friend, and then hanko it in case you are stopped at the door.
If you're not in the fanclub, though, it's not impossible to get tickets. But it's a lot easier (and, usually, infinitely cheaper) if you live in Japan than if you're overseas.
Some of the websites in this guide are, however, in Japanese. If your Japanese skills are heavy on the "understanding hilarious boyband injokes" skill set but low on the "understanding lots of kanji" side, then download the Rikaichan extension for Firefox. Scroll over a Japanese word, and it translates for you.
Okay, so there are basically two avenues for fans to go: buying tickets as a fanclub member, and buying tickets as a non-member!
OPTION A: BUYING TICKETS AS A NON-FANCLUB MEMBER
Tickets for all events and concerts are always offered to fanclub members first. If demand for a concert or event is high enough within the fanclub, there is a chance that tickets may not be sold outside the fanclub at all.
However, if they do decide to offer tickets outside the fanclub, it will be though Playguide tickets, which are still only available to people living in Japan.
Or, tickets sold through public venues. If you go to the Johnny's Net page of the event or concert you want to attend, if they've decided to offer Playguide tickets, there will be a button to click on the Johnny's Net site section for the tour reading "Playguide" in katakana.
(There probably won't be any Playguide information until after fanclub members have already balloted, after JE knows what the fanclub demand level is.)
Click the button and it'll pop up a new window. The new window tells you the date Playguide tickets will go on sale, as well as the vendors offering the tickets, and which numbers to call on which day, along with any codes you'll need to input.
I've never actually bought Playguide tickets, so this is as far as my knowledge goes. However, courtesy of arrowofpain! Her information is as follows:
"Oh and about Playguide tickets:
They're sold through ticket services such as Ticket Pia, Lawson, CN Playguide, etc.
Look at the start date/time for the tickets going on sale (it's almost always a Saturday and at 10am) and you can just put the phone number in your keitai. You'll want to do this because you're going to redial it about a million times. If you get through (I've only gotten through ONE time for anything Johnny's and this was Sho's Beautiful Game but I have used it for other concerts), it's going to ask you if you're a member (this might be Ticket Pia only), I think it's 2 for no (I haven't done this in like 2 years so bear with me here) and then it's going to ask you to put in the date of the show you want to go to (if there's more than one) and then if there's more than one show that day, it'll want to know if you want the afternoon or evening show. Then it'll ask you how many tickets (up to 4 usually) and if you're lucky enough to get this far, it's going to ask you for your phone number. Put it in and hit pound and then it's going to give you a long numerical number. WRITE THIS DOWN!!! You'll need it to print out the tickets. Then I *think* it asks you to put it back in and hit pound. So do that and your reservation should be all set!
Depending on what service you reserved the ticket for, you'll go the appropriate conbini. Ticket Pia can be printed out at Family Mart (and Sunkus still? Not sure...), Lawson at Lawsons, and CN Playguide can be printed out at am/pms. (There might be more but that's where I do mine, you can probably google it to find more comprehensive lists). So go to the conbini and to the little ticket machine. If you need help, just ask someone working there, they're usually really nice and helpful. You are going to have to put in that ticket reservation number and your phone number. It might also ask you for your name; depending on the machine, you might not be able to put your name in in romaji so you can just do it in katakana or hiragana (it doesn't really matter for the most part, maybe if the show's canceled you need it for a refund? I don't know to be honest).
I hope that clears things a bit. You won't know your seats until after you pay. After you do the thing with the machine, it prints out a little receipt and then all you have to do is promptly give it to the cashier and pay! A few minutes later they'll hand you your freshly printed tickets!"
Also, Playguide tickets do not have names on them. This means when they get auctioned off or sold online later, there's no worry about ID checks. Playguide seats are usually not as good as the club seats, though.
But what if, you say, an event or concert does sell out entirely through the fanclub? Well, then we move on to getting tickets in slightly more naughty ways (that are usually a lot more expensive).
BUYING TICKETS ONLINE
JE structures their ticket system in the goal of making internet and auction sales of fanclub tickets difficult. You only find out if you hit for tickets weeks after you apply, and then you don't know where your seat is until the ticket comes in the mail two weeks before the concert or event.
This doesn't deter people from selling tickets, though. As soon as people find out if they've hit or not, they will begin posting the tickets up for sale. You can start buying the tickets with unknown seat locations then, putting everything to luck, the same way everyone else in the fanclub does.
IMPORTANT: Every fanclub ticket has the fanclub member's name on it. JE claims that they check ID at all concert and event venues to ensure that the name on the ticket matches with the person who holds it. Understand that if you are buying a fanclub ticket online, there is a risk that you will get turned away at the door.
But in reality? They don't usually check.
Ticket-takers have enough issues trying to get that many thousands of people in the door, and when you walk in, they are usually more concerned with checking your bag than they are about checking your ticket. If you go to a smaller venue, then you may have problems, but at big venues you should usually be safe (especially if you line up early in the huge crowd before the doors open, as the ticket-takers are less likely to hold up the giant line to investigate). If you're able, though, I've also heard that you can ask online sellers to write you a note of explanation (claiming they're sick or couldn't make it and gave their ticket away to you) to show to any ticket-takers who ask, and have them hanko it.
EVEN MORE IMPORTANT: If you are buying tickets online after tickets have been mailed out, do not buy a ticket with the fanclub member's name, fanclub number, specific seat information, or serial numbers posted on the web. JE will cancel those seats. Online sellers generally are smart enough not to get any more specific than the gate and row number, but always double-check before buying or bidding!
The most popular venue for buying tickets is Yahoo!Auctions. Most sellers will not sell to overseas bidders, so if you're from overseas, you have to go through a deputy bidding service. I've heard Rinkya recommended. ina also recommends Shopping Mall Japan and Crescent Shop: "Crescent Shop also buys for overseas fans from Ticket.co.jp. But they refuse to bid on auctions when the sellers don't have the ticket yet. That makes it a bit hard if you also have to book a flight to go to Japan. :) Shopping Mall Japan does though and I successfully got tickets for concerts and butais through them."
The site I use to buy tickets is Ticket.co.jp. They don't ship overseas. But if you live in Japan, this site is incredibly easy to use (and all of the Johnny's ticket events are listed conveniently on the front page for easy access!). I always use it over Yahoo!Auctions, since there's no stress of bidding and you can buy tickets up to just a few days before the venue. This is my go-to site for anytime I want to go to a concert when I'm not in a group's fanclub.
If you choose a ticket on site that's not "confirmed" (they have icons next to them) then I think the payment options are more convenient, like being able to pay by konbini. But for confirmed tickets, the site has guaranteed that the seller has hit, so you won't get scammed. But in exchange for that perk, you have to pay either by credit card or by online banking. The credit option is only available for Japanese credit cards.
No matter where you buy online, though, tickets are going to be expensive. Fanclub tickets originally cost about 7000 yen for concerts, and I would say club tickets going for under 20,000 online are a lucky deal. Once seats go out, prices will go truly out of control for the good seats. Then you have to add website fees (and deputy buyer fees if applicable). Butai tickets are often craaaazy expensive since the venues are so small and demand is large.
Mixi is the Japanese equivalent of Myspace. If you have a Mixi account, run searches for Arashi concert-related communities. Usually each tour or events will have their own community, and might have a thread for tickets. People on the comms usually seem more focused on trading tickets between shows rather than selling them, but if your Japanese is good enough, you might be able to find a deal or a kind person willing to help you out.
Word to the wise: Arashi fans on Mixi are insanely rule-oriented for the most part (as in, you sometimes can't find actual reports on concert report threads, since ten to one the comm members are more interested in ranting about that one bitch who cut into the goods line, rather than...reporting on the concert). Just keep that in mind when you're reading and posting there.
They sometimes don't believe in disclosing gate or row numbers when putting tickets up even once seat numbers go out, and any requests for such will likely result in a lecture on how real fans should just be happy to bask in the glory of Arashi whether it's in the back row or the front. So, it's not a place to try to trade up for better seats if you already have tickets.
Once tickets are out, you can sometimes find them in Harajuku idol shops on Takeshita-doori. They usually cost a lot, but that's kind of a running theme here which I suspect most have picked up on. I see them sometimes in shops while I'm buying my Arashi gluesticks and Matsujun sparkle stickers, but I've never bought any myself and don't really know where the go-to places are for tickets. Though I'm assuming it's probably mostly luck. The one upstairs above that one lingerie shop on Takeshita usually has tickets available pretty regularly, though. (Anyone know the shop name...?)
ino also recommended a shop in Ueno near the station. Check here for her map of the location.
GOING TO THE VENUE ON THE DAY AND HOPING FOR THE BEST
Ah, the last resort. Two options here: scalpers, or making a sign and begging.
I kept hearing comments to the effect last year during the Time tour that scalpers were asking fans to sell their extra tickets, rather than the other way around. I guess it depends on how popular the tour is. I've actually yet to see scalpers at any Arashi concert since I got to Japan; since their popularity boom, tickets are really scarce. I have seen tons and tons of girls holding signs begging for tickets, though.
As for making a sign and begging.. If you show up early enough on the day and choose an excellent location, you are pretty likely to luck out. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as too early (I've seen people starting on the day previous!). Girls with tickets will be showing up at outrageous hours to queue in the goods line, so be there to catch them on their way in! Once you get to the point of a few hours before the doors open, there will be more people there with signs too, and your chances are lowered.
As for what your sign should say? In lieu of, "Will perform sexual favors for Arashi tickets," the typical sign will read simply:
Replace the "1" with however many tickets you're asking for, though any more than two is definitely pushing your luck. If you want two, I think you'd better be there way early. I've seen girls clutching their signs forlornly while sitting atop suitcases, apparently having made an overnight trip to the venue in the hope of getting a ticket. I imagine it's hard to compete with people looking that desperate.
If anyone has any other advice for non-fanclub members buying tickets, or noticed anything I forgot, please mention it in the comments so I can edit the post accordingly. But otherwise, let's move on to Option B...
OPTION B: BUYING TICKETS AS A FANCLUB MEMBER
I'm honestly not sure if anyone will find this useful, but I'm still new to the fanclub, and even though my Japanese is decent enough to read all the fanclub directions for balloting if I actually...sit down and read it...I've always kind of wished for a "Balloting for Dummies: In English!" guide just because 1) I'm kind of lazy, and 2) even though tickets are cheaper for fanclub members, I often wish I had an English guide to double-check myself against since you really don't want to lose money or a chance at tickets due to balloting ineptitude.
JOINING THE FANCLUB: FOR DUMMIES OR THE BARELY LITERATE!
So. The first obvious step is that you need to be in the fanclub! You can only be in the fanclub if you have a Japanese address, but if you live in Japan then it's easy enough.
Easiest of all is if you are going to attend a concert or any kind of Arashi-specific event, where there will often be a booth or table offering fanclub membership registration. The forms there will be a little different from the post office forms, but it's essentially the same information.
It costs 4000 yen for a year's subscription to the fanclub, and an extra 1000 yen to register for the first time. So, 5000 yen altogether.
If you don't register at a concert or event, you need to register by a post office furikomi form. Go to your local post office to pick them up: they are the forms with the blue type, identical to the example below. I advise grabbing a couple extra in case you mess up (plus it's nice to have a few lying around at home, since you often need them to ballot for events and concerts once you're in the club).
Go to the Johnny's Net page for fanclub applications. If your Japanese is good enough, then all the information is there. If not, go to that page and scroll down to the point where there's a table with all the fanclub names listed with 12-digit numbers next to them. The 12-digit numbers are the bank account numbers for each specific fanclub.
So, grab your blue furikomi form, and write that 12-digit number in the accordingly labeled spot on each side. Then add in the rest of the information as required. If you only have a cell phone, it's okay to write down that number twice, for both #5 and #9. The last four digits of the phone number you enter here will become your password for the fanclub website, as well as your password to check whether or not you hit for tickets, so be sure of it!
Also, every time you furikomi, be sure to add a yen symbol (¥) into the empty box preceding your payment amount. This is to make sure that nobody can illegally add extra digits to your payment amount en route.
Your email address and your favorite member are the only two options you can change through the fanclub website after you join the club. Any kind of change in address or phone number, and you have to submit a written form to the fanclub to change it. So be sure to write everything correctly, and choose contact information that will last.
Now it's time to go send off your application and pay! The blue post office furikomi forms are strictly for post office furikomi use. Don't try to furikomi at any other ATM.
Postal ATMS have English menus, but they don't have the furikomi option available in English. If you are nervous about the kanji factor, then sometimes you can pay inside the post office at the window. It depends on the post office, and also the time of day they will process furikomi inside. But even if they won't process it inside for you, if you ask one of the workers for help, they will come outside to the ATM and tell you which button to push.
For reference, though: the main menu is a series of blue buttons, and I'm pretty sure the menu is always the same no matter which post office you go to. You'll choose the furikomi option from the main menu, which (at least in my experience) is the one at the bottom on the right. Then select the option to insert the form, which is the button on the left. Then feed the blue furikomi form into the blinking ATM slot. Wait a few moments for the ATM to process it.
I think next you choose whether to pay by cash or by card. I've only ever paid by cash (I assume the card option is only if you have a postal savings account), which is the button on the left again. After that, the machine will read the form, and it will ask you to confirm the account number (double-check if you handwrote it). Then it will ask you to input the amount of money you are sending, then ask you to input your phone number, then it will show you the ATM fee combined with your total cost for you to confirm.
A slot will then open up for you to insert the cash into. Only use bills, no coins. The ATM will process it and then give you your change and receipt. Do not lose the receipt. It's your only way to prove you paid, in the unlikely event your request gets lost in the shuffle. The receipt can also be used as proof of fanclub membership at certain fanclub-specific events (specifically, if you choose to ballot for TV show tapings), so always hang onto it.
Then you wait for your request to process. There's no set turnaround time. I've heard it takes anywhere from two weeks to two months. I think mine took about five weeks.
When you do get into the club, you will recieve a fanclub newsletter, a printout explaining how the club ticket system works, and your own very special fanclub membership card. (It's really ugly.). If you for some reason you lose your aforementioned receipt, DO NOT THROW AWAY THE ENVELOPE. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR MOST RECENT ENVELOPE IN A SAFE PLACE. For TV show tapings, you are required to bring either the membership payment receipt, or your fanclub newsletter envelope (the typed label on the envelope has your yearly membership expiration date on it) with you to prove your current membership. The fanclub membership card might be checked at some events, but since just having a card doesn't prove that your membership is current, it's the receipt or the envelope that gets checked usually.
Once you get your fanclub information, you'll also be able to login to the fanclub website. Your username is your assigned fanclub letter (for Arashi, it's "A") followed by your member code (on your membership card). Your password is the last four digits of the phone number you put on your fanclub application.
BALLOTING FOR DUMMIES: NOW IN ENGLISH!
Any time there is a tour or event announced, the information will be put up on the fanclub login site. Note that you aren't allowed to click on any events for groups outside your fanclub. Sometimes the website is much faster in terms of putting out balloting information, sometimes the website section goes live the same day ballots come in the mail. But either way, the information you get is identical. Usually they will just post a PDF of the ballot information to the website, so it's exactly the same.
In the end, you will have a sheet with a list of locations, times, and dates for concerts or shows, and the directions for how to ballot. You also may get a balloting form enclosed in the envelope. If a form is not enclosed, then you will ballot using the blue post office furikomi form again (the JE-provided balloting form and the furikomi form are almost identical anyway).
A fanclub member is limited to a certain amount of tickets per event. With concert tours, you usually are entitled to ballot for four tickets total per tour. With a butai, I think two is the standard.
You will use one balloting form per concert. Decide how many tickets you want for one show, then look for a table on the form explaining how to apply the standard furikomi fee. For example, on the one for the Dream-A-Live tour, it said:
(6500 yen x number of desired tickets) + 500 yen fee = your final total.
And then it provides a table for people too dumb to multiply, explaining that one ticket will result in a 7000 yen total, two tickets a 13500 yen total, and so on and so forth.
Fill in the rest of the form: if it's the JE-provided balloting form, it will already have the account number, the addressee, the tour, your name, your fanclub number, and your address typed in for you. All you need to write is your final total into the payment section, and then write in how many tickets you want, and the provided codes for your first, second, and third choices for concert dates and times. It is not required to write all three choices in, if you can only make it to one or two.
If you want to ballot for more than one concert, check to make sure it is allowed first. Due to demand, this was not allowed for the 5x10 tour. If it is, then you need a post office furikomi form, and have to write the entire thing in yourself. Generally you will get an example in the pamphlet showing how to fill it out. You will have to fill in the account number, addressee information, and your contact information for sure. Concerts will also usually require for you to write in: the name of the tour, your fanclub number, the number of tickets you're applying for, total money being paid, phone number, and your three choices for concert dates/times.
Then follow the same furikomi ATM process as listed above. Once again, hold on to your ATM receipt.
And then, once again, you wait. However, this time you're not waiting for something to come in the mail: you're waiting for the ticket hotline to go live.
The date for the ticket hotline going live is not enclosed in the directions for balloting. It is decided afterwards, so don't bother looking for it. Rather, you're supposed to call the general concert hotline to confirm the date the ticket hotline goes live. That number can be found on Johnny's Net under the tour (or butai) information.
When the ticket hotline goes live, call it with the required information ready. A recorded message will request for you first to select which fanclub you're in, then have you input your membership number, and then finally your four-digit password (and then hit pound after each option).
Then it will tell you if you hit or not, and for which dates. Prepare your happy dance or tissues accordingly. Stay on the line if you miss any of the date or time information, because it will give you the option to play the information again. But you can only call the hotline a single time, so do not hang up until you've heard all of the information.
If you didn't hit, your refund will be in the mail, in the form of a postal money order you can cash at the post office. If you did hit, wait for your tickets to come!