Discounted Tickets: The ins and outs of Kinken Shops in Japan

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There are a lot of ways to save money on your trip to Japan. But did you know that there are shops in Japan offering more than just the usual savings that everyone else knows about? They are called Kinken Shops and they offer any sort of ticket you can imagine (as well as some luxury goods) at often heavily discounted prices.

From discounted Disneyland ticket vouchers to Shinkansen tickets, sports tickets and gift cards, a kinken shop will usually have them. Some of them even resell goods such as watches, fashion items, and jewelry, which makes them appear like a pawn shop to many visitors. However, these shops are just a great place to pick up things you might not be able to get elsewhere.

For example, if you were unable to grab a JR pass, there are many other passes that are available (at sometimes much cheaper prices than the JR pass) at kinken shops. You can find various bullet train passes or private train passes, all at discounted prices compared to what you would find inside the train stations.

As a disclaimer, please be very wary when shopping at kinken shops as they are basically middlemen that deal in reselling. Unlike in the west where you might be able to resell your ticket to someone else, some venues and companies in Japan are very strict about ticket resells and they could be deemed invalidated.

Where to find the ticket you want

Kinken shops are usually located in an area where they are relevant. Many of them are found close to train stations and some even inside the station itself. To find one near you, simply enter 金券ショップinto the search of your map app and you’re sure to find one. Kinken shops found in and around major train stations usually resell Shinkansen tickets and other traveling vouchers. Sometimes they also have discount tickets for local or easily accessible events in the area, such as festivals or musicals.

If you find a kinken shop around big shopping districts, you will usually find discounted gift cards for the surrounding department stores.

One of the most popular kinken shops for fans of Japanese stars is the one found on Harajuku’s main street of Takeshita. It resells many concert tickets for the most popular boybands, girlbands and musicals.

Tokyo Dome has many kinken shops in its surrounds that resell tickets for games and concerts held in this large venue.

How to find the ticket you want

All kinken ticket resells are conducted in Japanese. Some of the ones in tourist areas may have a person that speaks some English, but you should be aware that all the signs and information will be in Japanese. This is when a Japanese friend might come in handy! Despite this, the shop keepers are usually eager for business as many of their tickets are on a time limit, so don’t be afraid to ask for help because they will usually be more than willing.

Ensure that whatever you do, you purchase tickets for the right day/month/time/year. Going back and changing tickets bought at kinken shops will be next to impossible after they’ve been purchased. Tickets are sold depending on demand, so if you are trying to get into a sports game or concert that is sold out, expect to pay double (or even triple) the original price. The same applies for Shinkansen tickets and any other time sensitive services. During busy holidays periods, the ticket prices may go up, while last-minute tickets are usually the cheapest. However, this does not usually apply to vouchers or gift cards and these will be sold at a discounted price no matter when you purchase them.

Again, always be aware of what you’re buying from kinken shops. Once you’ve purchased an item, you usually can’t go back and exchange it if it doesn’t work. Although most kinken stores do vet their tickets to make sure they are authentic, it is sometimes the policy that only the name holder on the ticket can use it. It is very rare that they will stop foreigners in regard to this, but it has been known to happen. Ask if there are any tickets available without names on them as those are usually the safest.

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Tourist Note JAPAN