*This section is currently being updated. Please use the information here only as a guide.
Did you choose to come to Japan partly because you love the Japanese Pop Culture scene? Want to geek out over your favorite manga or Japanese bands? Know aboslutely nothing about it? Whether you`re a self-described “otaku” or a newbie, there are plenty of ways to explore Japan`s Pop Culture. Hopefully this page will provide some inspiration, and you can ask your fellow JETs for recommendations, too.
Jpop / Jrock Concerts
With so many idol bands, rock groups, and singers out there in the industry, there is bound to be concert by your favoirte group playing at any given time. To help organize everything, Lawson’s convenience store puts out a free monthly “Ticket” magazine that lists all the concerts for the upcoming several months, where the groups are playing, how to purchase tickets, and when they go on sale. Most of the venues are centered around the major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, but occasionally you’ll find high profile bands performing in Matsuyama. You can pick up the magazine in any Lawson’s conbini. Alternatively, you can visit Lawson’s ticket website and search by group instead (Japanese only).
Purchase via Lawson’s Loppi
Once you’ve found the concert you want in the Lawson’s magazine, you can purchase concert tickets directly from Lawson’s website or from their dedicated Loppi machines which can be found in most Lawson’s combinis (look for the red ATM-like machine). Here`s an English guide for how to use the machines.
Purchase via Yahoo! Auctions
You may find very quickly that it is diffuclt to get tickets for high-profile bands (like Arashi or Exile) because the fan club will purchase most of the tickets before the general public can buy them. Another option is to get the tickets second-hand via Yahoo! Auctions. Instructions only in Japanese and you need a Japanese credit card.
Major Music Festivals
Music festivals usually feature multiple days of rocking music, major label bands, and all-in-all great fun! In addition to Japanese bands, many foreign bands also perform here. These are just a couple to get you started. Tickets for these events can also be purchased through the Lawson’s Loppi machine.
Japan’s largest outdoor music event is a 3-day event that is held at Naeba Ski Resort, Niigata prefecture and features over 200 Japanese and international artists! This event is held annually at the end of July.
Another of Japan’s major music events is a two-day event that takes place in both Osaka and Tokyo simultaneously at the beginning of August.
Tokyo Game Show
You’re a gamer. And you’re not just any gamer, you’re one of those hardcore gamers that always wanted to go a major video game expo and get your hands on the latest shiny console or be the first to test out that new stellar game with the eye-bleeding graphics that everyone is talking about. Well fortunately for you, you now live in Japan, the home of SquareEnix and Nintendo!
Tokyo Game Show (TGS) is the third largest video game expo in the world. It is held annually in mid-September at Makuhari Messe in Chiba prefecture (just outside Tokyo proper and near Tokyo Disneyland). The first two days are for industry only, but the final two days allows the general public to attend. In addition to seeing promos and trailers for the new games, you’ll also be able to demo them! Of course, as you may expect, everything is in Japanese but that shouldn’t deter you in the slightest. All major video game companies attend TGS with the exception of Nintendo, which has its own exclusive convention.
TGS is also a great place to check-out first hand Japanese cosplay at its finest!
Anime / Manga Events
Comic Market (Comiket)
If you are a fan of “doujinshi” (fan manga) then this is the event for you. Comiket is not only Japan’s largest manga event, but the largest comic event in the world. It’s held biannually at Big Sight Tokyo, Odaiba. The Summer Comiket is by far the bigger event, with 35,000 artists and half a million attendees every year. Many of Japan’s well known mangaka had their humble beginnings here at Comiket. Due to its massive size, all artists selling works are listed in a telephone-sized guidebook (also known as the “Comiket Bible”) which also includes maps. This book can be preordered from your local manga store, like Animate. Expect to see some impressive cosplay at Comiket as well!
Held annualy in March at Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. Like TGS, the first two days are for industry, and the last two days for the public. It’s one of the largest anime trade faires and is the best place to check out what`s new and upcoming.
An anime/manga festival for all things Jump (as in Weekly Jump, the magazine that publishes Japan’s top manga like Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, etc.). It is a one-day event held in Tokyo in December. Manga artists are typically on hand to answer questions at panels, as well as preview new merchandise, animes, or even games.
Welcome to Japan, the country that has perfected specialized cafes to an artform.
Maid cafes feature cute waitresses dressed as maids and serving equally cute food (think of rice balls shaped into hearts or happy faces drawn from ketchup on omelets). The food at maid cafes can be slightly on the expensive side and usually consists of izukaya-style dishes. They are geared for the male populance though it is commonplace to see girls going too. You can find numerous maid cafes in most major cities, the most famous ones of course being in Akihabara, Tokyo. However, even Matsuyama has its own maid cafe called the “Merry Maid.” It is located on the 6th floor in the building across from Junkudo bookstore, near the end of Gintengai.
A place where you can enjoy a drink surrounded by adorable purebred furry friends. All cats at cat cafes are tame and you can play and cuddle them to your heart’s content. Usually you purchase 30-min blocks plus a drink. Again, cat cafes are most frequent in major cities, but there is one in Matsuyama! Neko Cafe RonRon is in Okaido.