The Ultimate Guide to Comiket – Tokyo’s Best Manga, Anime, Cosplay, and Pop Culture Event!

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Comiket, AKA Comic Market, is one of Japan’s biggest events surrounding otaku culture – a twice-yearly (summer and winter) convention at Tokyo Big Sight featuring amateur doujinshi manga artists, big names in anime and video games, some of Japan’s most famous cosplayers, and crowds of adoring Japanese pop culture fans! Whether you’re gearing up and buying tickets for Comiket 99 (Winter 2020), or just want to know what Comic Market is all about, read on for all the info you crave.

What is Comiket? (Or is it Comic Market?)



✴ Comiket 98, Summer 2020 has unfortunately been canceled due to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Preparations for Comiket 99, Winter 2020, are still in progress. The December event may also be canceled, however, as organizers assess the situation closer to the date. For the most up-to-date information on cancelations, check the top of the page on the Japanese version of the Comiket website, found here. The English version is very rarely updated. ✴

Now one of Japan's biggest comic-related events, Comic Market (often nicknamed Comiket/コミケット or even Comike/コミケ) started with just a few hundred attendees in 1975. These days, the convention is a gathering place for doujinshi manga artists, cosplayers, major publishing companies, anime and game creators, and almost 600,000 Japanese pop culture lovers of all stripes, over a 4-day span.

Comiket is now a huge bi-annual event taking place every summer and winter at Tokyo Big Sight, a major Tokyo convention center. It's the biggest event of its kind in the world! You might hear about how intense an experience it can be, but if you're interested in seeing fan-created manga based around every theme you've ever dreamed of, booths from major companies featuring the latest in anime and video games, and Japan's most talented cosplayers, we can't help but recommend a visit! Just be prepared!

What You’ll Find at the Market

Comiket runs from 10:00 to 16:00 each day, and is broken up into three main areas: ① the biggest area and the one that started it all – the fan-made doujinshi halls, where "circles" (groups of creators) set up individual booths, ② an area exhibits from big companies in the manga, anime, and game industries, and ③ a place for cosplayers to show off their latest cosplay.

Fan-Made Comics (and Fan-Made Everything Else)

What are doujinshi (同人誌)? To put it simply, a doujinshi is any publication made by fans, a la fanzines. A fan-centered event, Comiket has been all about fan-made amateur manga from the start. Doujinshi can be based on another manga (many internet-users' first introduction to doujinshi might be stumbling upon steamy fanfiction featuring, say, Naruto and Sasuke), but doujinshi can also be created with totally original content.



Nowadays Comiket's doujinshi area contains hundreds and hundreds of booths selling things of all kinds, and taking up multiple halls of the Tokyo Big Sight convention center. While there is certainly plenty of fanfiction featuring characters from your favorite series (sexy in theme and otherwise), that's not all you'll find. The comics and pamphlets sold throughout the market include original content in manga genres of all kinds, and about everything from food and travel, to trains and bugs.

Make your way into just the right area and you might find a row of booths selling stationery, unique hand-made accessories, original music, indie board games, ball-jointed dolls, t-shirts (with designs both otaku-themed, and not), or just about anything else! While you can beeline for your favorite circles and creators, if you spend some time just wandering through the halls, you're bound to find areas devoted to fandoms you never even knew existed.

Corporate Booths



A look at the doujinshi area makes it clear why this event is called a comic market, but meandering through the area set aside for major companies gives you a glimpse of the major event Comiket has become. Booths surrounded by huge flashing screens, exhibits with eye-catching novelties (like these character-covered cars), and lines of people waiting to purchase limited-edition goods. If your ultimate goal is to see polished exhibits from Japan's biggest manga and anime publishers and video game creators, there are other conventions throughout the year that might be your best bet, but the setups at Comiket are nothing to scoff at.

Cosplay



The cosplayers of Comiket, dressed in mech suits, skimpy magical girl dresses, fantasy kimono, unique original designs, and everything in between, gather in a roped-off area in the outdoor courtyard area of Tokyo Big Sight. It's pretty fun seeing Edward Elric, Naruto, Madoka, and a thousand other characters who look vaguely familiar or completely new, all in one area! In an effort to keep things organized and minimize complaints from locals, Comiket asks cosplayers to arrive at the event in normal clothing, get dressed in the designated changing rooms, show off their cosplay and take pictures in the designated space, and then change back before returning home. It's all a very Japanese feat of cooperation, which is why so many of Japan's best cosplayers successfully gather at the event twice every year.

Of course, you can join in too! If you want to cosplay at Comiket, make sure you register when you head to the changing room (the fee is 1,000 yen) and then follow the rules (like avoiding large accessories that might accidentally hurt others, not wearing costumes that look like real uniformed officers, and using the changing rooms between 10:00 and 15:30!). If you just want to admire the gorgeous costumes and take pictures, make sure to be polite and stick to the standard etiquette: ask permission before taking any snapshots, get in line if you want to take photos of a popular cosplayer, and don't try to take any pictures they're not comfortable with! A simple "shashin o totte mo ii desu ka?" (写真を撮ってもいいですか?May I take a picture?) will go a long way.

How to Get Ready, and Get to Comiket

Access



Things get crazy once you arrive at Tokyo Big Sight for Comiket, but getting there is easy!

The closes stations are Kokusai-Tenjijo Station on the Rinkai Line (about 7 minutes walk) and Tokyo Big Sight Station on the Yurikamome Line (about 3 minutes walk). Tokyo Big Sight, where Comiket takes place, is in the Odaiba area of Tokyo. It's a little removed from the parts of Tokyo where most travelers stay, but you can probably make it over with just one transfer.

Some popular routes:
① Asakusa Station ⇒ (Asakusa Line) ⇒ Shimbashi Station ⇒ (Yurikamome Line) ⇒ Tokyo Big Sight Station
​② Tokyo Station
⇒ (Yamanote Line) ⇒ Shimbashi Station ⇒ (Yurikamome Line) ⇒ Tokyo Big Sight Station
 Shinjuku/Shibuya/Harajuku/Ikebukuro Stations ⇒ (Yamanote Line) ⇒ Osaki Station ⇒ (Rinkai Line) ⇒ Kokusai Tenjijo Station

How & What to Prepare



Step 1: Pick up a catalog if you're in Japan, or check the one online, here.
This catalog only comes in Japanese, but if you're a fan on a mission, you'll want to use it to the best of your ability. It comes in hard copies which you can pick up from manga shops around Japan (they throw a list up on the website ahead of time), or a web edition that you can access by just registering for free. The contents include a guide to every single circle (group of creators) that will be present at the market, and floor maps to help you find them. If you know what you're looking for, check ahead of time!

Step 2: Get your wristband (buy a Comiket ticket).
Most Comiket pros will buy their Comiket tickets (they come as wristbands) in advance, along with the catalog, when you can get a whole 4-day bundle ticket for 2,750 yen, or single-day tickets for 550 yen. If you don't buy a ticket until the day-of, you can get them for 1,000 yen at Tokyo Big Sight each day, but we wouldn't advise it. Lines get long, and you wouldn't want to miss out on precious shopping time waiting to even enter! On the other hand, since crowds tend to peak in the morning, if you decide to drop in to see what's going on in the middle of the afternoon, you might not even be checked for a wristband.

Step 3: Decide which day or days are right for you.
Did you know that the booths and circles present vary by day? The four days of Comiket generally offer different types of creators, so check the catalog and figure out which days look most like what you're interested in. Make sure you don't miss what you want to see most!

Step 4: Bring the right things.
Are you going to Winter Comiket or Summer Comiket? This is actually pretty important, because you're likely to spend some time waiting outside before you make it into the convention halls. Don't freeze to death in winter, but even more importantly, don't be one of the many people who faint with heatstroke and dehydration every summer!! If it's hot outside, it'll be hot in line and still pretty warm inside the building. Bring water, a towel to dry your sweaty face off (yes really), and a portable fan if you can! There are food court areas, vending machines, and convenience stores on the grounds, so you can buy drinks if you run out, but it's easiest to bring your own to stay hydrated.

If you're planning on buying lots of manga, bring plenty of cash in small bills, and something to carry the day's haul! Not all sellers provide bags, and many of them only accept cash.

Step 5: Figure out when to arrive.
Again – think about why you're going. If you just want to appreciate the novelty of the huge event, you can show up later in the day. If there's something in particular you want to buy, especially a popular limited-edition something, get there early. Take the first train if you can. Lines get long, and things sell out fast!

In the end, if you get to Comiket and end up lost and confused, don't worry! There are tables of volunteers set up throughout the halls of the convention center, and these days you'll even find English-speaking volunteers, there to help you find your way!

Finally, Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself!



With a little bit of forethought and preparation, a day full of fun at Comiket flies by in the blink of an eye! It's an event that starts early in the morning for many, which means it also tends to finish up early in the afternoon. There's so much to see, buy, and take pictures of – before you know it the sun will be low in the sky, and the crowds will be rolling in waves towards the trains heading home.



Not visiting Japan during the right times of year for Comiket? Looking for something anime and manga related that's a little different?

The Ghibli Museum is open year-round – just make sure you buy tickets ahead of time!
Anime Japan is another huge Japanese anime convention, but it's more focused on bigger companies.

We add new manga & anime-related events (like exhibitions & themed pop-up cafes) to our event calendar all the time!

If you make it to Comiket, or any of these events, we want to hear all about it! Let us know about your experience on twitter, instagram, and facebook!
 

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ACCESS:Tokyo Big Sight Station / Kokusai-Tenjijo Station

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      Hokkaido (北海道) is the northernmost of the four main islands that make up Japan. The area is famous for Sapporo Beer, plus brewing and distilling in general, along with fantastic snow festivals and breathtaking national parks. Foodies should look for Hokkaido's famous potatoes, cantaloupe, dairy products, soup curry, and miso ramen!

    • Niki, in south-west Hokkaido, is about 30 minutes from Otaru. The small town is rich with natural resources, fresh water, and clean air, making it a thriving center for fruit farms. Cherries, tomatoes, and grapes are all cultivated in the area, and thanks to a growing local wine industry, it's quickly becoming a food and wine hotspot. Together with the neighboring town of Yoichi, it's a noted area for wine tourism.

    • Niseko is about two hours from New Chitose Airport, in the western part of Hokkaido. It's one of Japan's most noted winter resort areas, and a frequent destination for international visitors. That's all because of the super high-quality powder snow, which wins the hearts of beginners and experts alike, bringing them back for repeat visits. That's not all, though, it's also a great place to enjoy Hokkaido's culinary scene and some beautiful onsen (hot springs).

    • Otaru is in western Hokkaido, about 30 minutes from Sapporo Station. The city thrived around its busy harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to active trade and fishing, and the buildings remaining from that period are still popular attractions, centered around Otaru Canal. With its history as a center of fishing, it's no surprise that the area's fresh sushi is a must-try. Otaru has over 100 sushi shops, quite a few of which are lined up on Sushiya Dori (Sushi Street).

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    • Consisting of six prefectures, the Tohoku Region (東北地方) is up in the northeastern part of Japan's main island. It's the source of plenty of the nation's agriculture (which means great food), and packed with beautiful scenery. Explore the region's stunning mountains, lakes, and hot springs!

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    • Tokyo (東京) is Japan's busy capital, and the most populous metropolitan area in the world. While the city as a whole is quite modern, crowded with skyscrapers and bustling crowds, Tokyo also holds onto its traditional side in places like the Imperial Palace and Asakusa neighborhood. It's one of the world's top cities when it comes to culture, the arts, fashion, games, high-tech industries, transportation, and more.

    • The Chubu Region (中部地方) is located right in the center of Japan's main island, and consists of 9 prefectures: Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama, and Yamanashi. It's primarily famous for its mountains, as the region contains both Mt. Fuji and the Japanese Alps. The ski resorts in Niigata and Nagano also draw visitors from around the world, making it a popular winter destination.

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    • NIIGATA

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      Niigata is a prefecture on Japan's main island of Honshu, situated right on the coast of the Sea of Japan, and abundant with the gifts of nature. It's known for popular ski resorts such as Echigo-Yuzawa, Japanese national parks, and natural hot spring baths, plus local products like fresh seafood, rice, and sake. Visitors often spend time in the prefectural capital, Niigata City, or venture across the water to Sado Island.

    • SHIZUOKA

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      Shizuoka Prefecture is sandwiched between eastern and western Japan, giving the prefecture easy access to both Tokyo and Osaka. Not only is it known for beautiful natural attractions, with everything from Mount Fuji to Suruga Bay, Lake Hamanako, and Sumata Pass―Shizuoka's Izu Peninsula is known as a go-to spot for hot springs lovers, with famous onsen like Atami, Ito, Shimoda, Shuzenji, and Dogashima. Shizuoka attracts all kinds of travelers thanks to historic connections with the Tokugawa clan, the Oigawa Railway, fresh eel cuisine, Hamamatsu gyoza, and famously high-quality green tea.

    • Kansai (関西) is a region that includes Mie, Nara, Wakayama, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, and Shiga Prefectures. Kansai contained Japan's ancient capital for hundreds of years, and it's making a comeback as one of the most popular parts of Japan. Kyoto's temples and shrines, Osaka Castle, and the deer of Nara are all considered must-sees. Plus, the people of Kansai are especially friendly, making it a fun place to hang out.

    • Kyoto flourished as the capital of Japan between the years 794 and 1100, becoming a center for poilitics and culture, and to this day it's a great place for close encounters with Japanese history. The cobbled streets of Gion, the atmospheric road to Kiyomizudera Temple, Kinkakuji's golden walls and countless historic attractions, even Arashiyama's Togetsukyo Bridge―Kyoto is a place of many attractions. With new charms to experience throughout the seasons, travelers can't stop themselves from returning again and again.

    • Nara Prefecture's important history reaches back to 710, a time now called the Nara era, when it was once capital of Japan. Called "Heijo-kyo" during its time as a capital, it's said that nara was once the end of the silk road, leading it to flourish as a uniquely international region and produce important cultural properties of all kinds. To make the most of each season, travelers head to Nara Park, where the Nara deer who wander freely, or climb Mount Yoshino, a famous cherry blossom spot.

    • Osaka is known for friendly (and funny) people, but its history is nothing to laugh at, playing a major part in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's 16th century unification of Japan. Thanks to long years of economic activity, it's one of Japan's biggest cities, and Osaka's popular food culture earned it the nickname "The Kitchen of the Nation." To this day Osaka is the model of western Japan, and alongside historic structures like Osaka Castle, it also has major shopping malls like Umeda's Grand Front Osaka and Tennoji's Abeno Harukas. Osaka is a place to eat, eat, eat, with local specialties like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushi-katsu, and for extra fun, it's home to Universal Studios Japan.

    • CHUGOKU

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      The Chugoku Region (中国地方) consists of five prefectures: Hiroshima, Okayama, Shimane, Tottori, and Yamaguchi. In Chugoku you’ll find the sand dunes of Tottori, and Hiroshima’s atomic bomb site, plus centers of ancient history like Grand Shrine of Izumo.

    • HIROSHIMA

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      Hiroshima Prefecture has everything, from world heritage sites to beautiful nature and delicious local cuisine, and it's either an hour and a half from Tokyo by plane, or four hours by train. Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and the Atomic Bomb Dome, two Hiroshima UNESCO sites, are famous around the world, but in Japan it's also famous for food. Seafood from the Seto Inland Sea, especially oysters, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and Setouchi lemons are all popular, and the natural scenery alone is worth seeing.

    • SHIKOKU

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      On the other side of the Seto Inland Sea opposite Japan’s main island, Shikoku (四国) is a region made up of four prefectures: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima. The area is famous for its udon (in Kagawa), and the beautiful Dogo Onsen hot springs (in Ehime).

    • Kagawa Prefecture is on the northern part of the island of Shikoku, facing Japan's main island and the Seto Inland Sea. It's known for being the smallest prefecture in Japan, by area, but at the same time Kagawa is called the "Udon Prefecture" thanks to its famous sanuki udon. Aside from Kotohiragu Shrine and Ritsurin Garden, the prefecture's small islands are popular, and Kagawa is full of unique destinations, like Angel Road. They say that if you lay eyes on Zenigata Sunae, a huge Kagawa sand painting, you'll never have money troubles ever again.

    • Located in the most southwestern part of Japan, Kyushu (九州) is an island of 7 prefectures: Fukuoka, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki, and Kagoshima. The island's unique culture has been influenced by Chinese and Dutch trade, along with missionaries coming in through Nagasaki's port. Modern-day travelers love the lush natural scenery and fresh food, plus the natural hot springs found all throughout the area (thanks to volcanic activity)!

    • FUKUOKA

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      Fukuoka Prefecture has the highest population on the southern island of Kyushu, with two major cities: Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. Thanks to growing transportation networks, Fukuoka is more accessible than ever, and so are the many local attractions. On top of historical spots like Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, travelers shouldn't miss Fukuoka's food scene, with motsu nabe (offal hotpot), mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and famous Hakata ramen―best eaten from a food stall in the Nakasu area of Hakata. Plus, it's full of all sorts of destinations for travelers, like trendy shopping centers, and the beautiful nature of Itoshima and Yanagawa.

    • KAGOSHIMA

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      Kagoshima Prefecture played a major role in Japan's modernization as a backdrop for famous historical figures like samurais Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi, who pushed Japan out of the Edo era and into the Meiji. Because of that, Sengan-en Garden is just one of many historical destinations, and when it comes to attractions Kagoshima has plenty: the active volcano of Sakurajima, popular hot springs Ibusuki Onsen and Kirishima Onsen, World Heritage Site Yakushima Island, even what Japan calls the "island closest to heaven," Amami Oshima. Kagoshima might be found on the very southernmost tip of the southern island of Kyushu, but there's plenty to see.

    • OKINAWA

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      The island chain of Okinawa (沖縄) makes up the southernmost tip of Japan, which is why it's also the most tropical area in the country. Thanks to a history of independence and totally distinct political and cultural events, Okinawa has a unique culture, and remnants of the Ryukyu Kingdom are still visible all over the islands. Food, language, traditional dress, it's all a little different! It's also said to be the birthplace of karate.

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