So, you want to join the Gasheads? There’s several easy ways to do so:
We are not Omiya or JEF Chiba, who can sell out every game because they have something like 15,000 seats. We are also not like Urawa, who can sell out any game, home or away. FC Tokyo plays its home games for the most part at Ajinomoto Stadium (capacity 50,000), with occasional sojourns to National Olympic Stadium (which seats about the same, I believe). Average attendances is something like 22-25,000, so you’ll have no problem getting a ticket unless it’s for the Urawa gam.
Front stand tickets (SS, SA, etc) are expensive and almost nobody buys them – the back stand and behind the goal (known as ホーム自由席,home jiyuuseki, “home free seating”) are the preferred tickets for most fans, and the second tier is divided into home free seating (behind the goal) and general unassigned free seating (on the back stand)
Tickets can be purchased up to the day before the game at Lawson’s (through their Loppi machine) or at Ticket Pia. On the day of the match tickets can be purchased at the stadium but will cost slightly more. When I’ve got more time I’ll post the photos of how to deal with the Loppi machine – it’s all in Japanese but it’s pretty convenient once you figure it out.
If you decide you’re addicted enough for season tickets, you can always join the club’s SOCIO program – I believe season ticket holders behind the goal pay a flat rate of 1,400yen/ticket (where they cost 1800/2500 depending on the game), so you save cash if you go to a lot of games. The club offers it for a full year and for the half year starting in August when the second half of J.League kicks off.
Stuff You’ll Need
-Appropriate dress for the weather
-Bag to carry stuff (your bag will be checked for cans/PET bottles – they will let you bring outside drinks in but you have to pour cans into paper cups, and take caps off PET bottles in the name of recycling. My advice? Hide your stuff efficiently. I suggest cargo pants since they don’t search your person.
-Sunglasses/Sunscreen for the rare summer day games
-Stuff to keep you entertained before the match (a book, iPod, whatever)
-If you’re a regular, there’s a bunch of Items You Cannot Be Without. I get the sense that it’s different in European leagues, but I suppose in Japan that has to do with like, groupthink and that sort of thing. I actually want to do a different post on this later.
Getting to the Stadium
95% of people in Tokyo are going to go to Shinjuku and transfer to the Keio Line. The “Semi Special Express” (which leaves from Track 3 every 10 minutes) is a rapid service train that will take you to Meidaimae station and then Chofu. At Chofu, get off the train, stay on the platform, and wait 3-4 minutes for a local train to pull up. Get on that and take it two stops to Tobitakyu Station. Unless you’re going to the stadium fantastically early there will be other supporters on the train – if you’re confused, ask a Gashead if this is the right stop.
After you leave the station there’s a 5-minute walk to get to the stadium up the one main street. If you leave out the side everyone leaves at, you’ll cross a small intersection and see the LA12 merch stand – their stuff is expensive as hell (particularly the mufflers) but if you want a bit of authentic behind-the-goal wear, no place better (they also have an actual shop on the other side of the station). As you walk towards the stadium there will be a bunch of conbinis – they sell FC Tokyo bentos (boxes with katsu sandwiches and such) with Hello Kitty in an FC Tokyo kit. You can’t resist, you know it.
Once you get to the stadium, follow the signs or ask a staffer which entrance you should take. Voila! Welcome to Ajinomoto.
I’m gonna do a separate page for this that will include chants, fan rituals, that sort of thing.