#DiscoveringWrestling #006 – My Journey to Japan for Wrestle Kingdom 11 (Part 1)

For all of 2016 I saved money and laid plans for what would be my first epic wrestling vacation. I had set my sights on Wrestle Kingdom 11! When I boarded the flight from Toronto to Tokyo on January 1st 2017 with my Arena A level tickets for the Tokyo Dome in my carry-on I still couldn’t believe I was actually going. I have friends who have dreamed of going to Wrestlemania, but that wasn’t my pilgrimmage to go on. I love all wrestling, but I worship at the altar of Puroresu. Long had I been a fan of NOAH and New Japan, and this trip was meant to finally fulfil dreams. I could never have anticipated how truly amazing it would be.

But before I got the opportunity to go I would have to secure myself some good tickets to the event. This would prove to be a hurdle that was both complicated to navigate and simple to resolve. At first I wanted to go all-in for Wrestle Kingdom 11 and try to get the  50,000¥ seats with commemorative folding chair. These proved to be complicated to obtain, and were inevitably out of my grasp for a variety of reasons, but it was primarily a financial decision. Now, there are many ways to get tickets for Puroresu shows before you get feet on ground in Tokyo, and I have many opinions on them, but all of that is useless in acquiring these prestigious seats. Only members of the Team NJPW fan club are able to even apply to purchase these. They are sold via a lottery, wherein you put your name into a random draw for the number of tickets you want along with every other rabid NJPW fan in Japan and if you are chosen, you may then purchase the tickets. Far more people apply than there are seats for.

To illustrate how unfriendly this system is to foreigners who would genuinely love to attend, to even join the fan club you must have a Japanese mailing address (I had a friend in Japan agree to let me use theirs), have a Japanese credit card or make arrangements for someone to pay the bill through a convenience store for you, and tack on a fee for the year and wait to get your membership access emails. All of the sign-up forms are exclusively in Japanese, and Google Translate almost always rendered it cryptically hard to understand the meanings of sections. Now, all of this wouldn’t be so bad if the personal shoppers and other services like govayagin would do it for you, but convenient intermediaries simply refuse to help with it.


Look at those beautiful tickets! Arena A, Bay-Bay!

Once i made the decision to purchase the best seats i could afford instead of the best seats in the house, my options became a lot clearer. I narrowed it down to one service in particular, after doing price and ease of use comparisons. My choice was a personal shopper service, personalshopperjapan.com, that wound up far exceeding my expectations. Yumi, the lady doing all the legwork for a very modest commission, was a pleasure to deal with. She provided quick responses and competitive rates and helped me to understand where in the arena my seats were, even going so far as digging up fan made seating charts for the floor seating at the Tokyo Dome – as there are no official Wrestle Kingdom seating charts – and translated it all too. Heck, after dealing with my anxieties about getting tickets she’ll probably do it all better and easier for you! I really cannot recommend her enough, and i am certain i will use her services again in the future.

No matter what seats you want, or can afford after paying for flights and lodging, they’ll be worth it. Sitting amongst that crowd was a surreal experience, and sharing excitement and emotions with the audience around me, across the language barrier, was a phenomenal experience. If you want to go, you should go.

And you might just get interviewed (That’s me at 7:39)..

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSBPSeXaMwE&w=560&h=315]

Have you been to Wrestle Kingdom? Do you have any advice or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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