This guide is to assist attendees of Comic Market to be prepared to enjoy the event with little stress. It can also be used for smaller events which are held in many parts of Japan throughout the year.
NOTE: This document can always be improved. Please send suggestions if you have them.
What is Comic Market?
Comic Market is a twice yearly gathering, often abbreviated as Comiket, where creators sell their self published works. Most are self made manga, however there are also prose work, photo books, art books, video games, even objects such as ceramics, t-shirts and other goods.
The first Comic Market was held on Decembver 1975 and had 32 circles selling their products and 700 attendees, 90% female, shopping. Over the years location has changed and the size has grown. In December 2014 Comic Market 87 had 35,000 circles selling works and 560,000 attendees making purchases over a three day period. With these numbers Comiket is the largest book related event in the world.
Which of the two annual Comiket should I go to?
Comiket is held each Winter in December and each Summer in August. Tokyo is August can be very hot and humid and being in a hall with tens of thousands of other shoppers may not be very pleasant in such circumstances. I have always been advised by friends in Tokyo to only go to the Winter Comic Market. If you decide to go tot he December Comiket be sure to book rooms ahead of time as hotels and inns fill up as it gets closer to New Years day.
When should I arrive?
Many articles and web sites about Comiket advise you to arrive in the afternoon. I would advise going in the morning as some booths sell out by the afternoon and the morning crowds are manageable.
How do I get to Comiket?
Once you are settled into your room in Tokyo you will need to travel to the location. See my Navigating Tokyo web page for Tokyo transit basics as well as my Tokyo On The Cheap for money saving tips.
Over the years Comiket has been held in several locations. In 1999 it was moved to the present location, Tokyo Big Sight. At Tokyo Big Sight there are three huge halls where goods are sold with a combined area of 889.745 square feet and those are only part of the larger complex.
The easiest ways to get to Big Sight is to take trains to Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon station or Kokusai-Tenjijo station. For most travelers it will be easiest to take the Yurikamome train to Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon station from the Yurikamome Shimbashi Station. There are other Shimbashi Stations nearby on the Ginza and Asakusa subway lines & for train lines the Yamanote, Tokaido & Keihin-Tohoku lines. You must exit these other stations to enter Yurikamome Shimbashi station which is very close. The Yurikamome lines goes above ground across the Rainbow bridge through Odaiba before eventually reaching Big Sight and going beyond eventually to Toyosu. By taking this train you get to see some interesting scenery on the way.
Or you could take the Rinkai Line to Kokusai-Tenjijo station from Osaki station on Yamanote & Saikyo lines.
What does it cost to get in?
Admission to the halls is free. The cost of the event is covered by the sale of catalogs, ads in the catalogs, application fees from circles applying to sell at the event, and the sale of Comiket related goods on site.
If you find yourself getting more than you can easily carry consider buying one of the attractive official Comiket bags to carry your stuff in, or just get the bag as an artifact.
How do I know where to go in the halls?
- First you will need the Comic Market Catalog.
The catalog is available in three forms: printed, DVD, and an online version. The DVD and online version require knowledge of Japanese to use so you will likely want the print version. The print catalog is available at many retailers and in the Tokyo area this includes at all Animate, K-Books, Gamers, Comic Toranoana, and Mandarake stores. It comes out just a few weeks before the event. You may also try to have online vendors ship it to your hotel. CDJapan and Amazon Japan
NOTE: The link above to the list of retailers selling the catalog goes through Google translate, the original page is in Japanese.
- How is the catalog organized?
The bulk of the catalog is in three sections, one section for each day, and each day is subdivided into three sections one for each hall. The lists for the halls are divided up into aisles and each circle is at a numbered table. The numbers are on a tape on the front edge of the table, each table usually hosting two circles. The catalog reflects the organization of the halls with each section consisting of small postage stamp sized images or text from each circle. Circles are at Comiket for only one day of three day event so each day has totally different goods.
Circles are further grouped by the theme of material being sold. This means all the Evangelion dōjinshi will be in one place, all the cosplay photo books will be in one place and of course only for one of the three days.
There is also a section in the catalog for each day where the circle names are indexed by Japanese name. For most non-Japanese attendees who cannot read Japanese the best way to use the catalog is to look at the small pictures and note which circle may be worth checking out.
- Maps of the halls:
The catalog also comes with a set of perforated maps for easy removal. You could annotate the maps but you may need to use them for more than one day. I have taken to simply using a 3x5 card each day with aisle and table numbers for that day written on them.
Note: The three giant halls themselves are often shown on maps as several separate halls. Dividers are removed to make the giant halls used at Comiket. There are also small halls and rooms which may have other items as well as tables outside the East Halls. Some of these are commercial publishers which special items.
Can I use a credit card?
No this ia a cash only event. Bring plenty of money, preferably lots of small bills and coins. If you run low there is a post office in the TFT building on the other side of Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon station, however there is no guarantee it will have cash left by the time you get to it.
- There are also tables run by event staff selling Comiket related goods such as bags and fans. The prices are good and they make great souvenirs.
- There are other smaller dōjinshi markets in the Tokyo area. Do some research to find if they will be happening when you visit the city. These usually charge admission, usually the purchase of the catalog.
- There are no photos allowed in the halls. Many sellers do not want it known that they make dōjinshi and many attendees would not like their pictures taken. Plus people taking pictures make it hard for other shoppers to get by
- There may be a separate cosplay photo area indoors nearby for an extra fee extra fee
- For food, you can bring bring small snacks or eat in Big Sight or nearby, the other side of Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon station has restaurants. Also carry a small tea or water to stay hydrated.
- The popular circles are usually placed along the walls as they have more stock.
- It is possible to mail your purchases from the event so if you think you may want to do so bring the address where you are staying.
- There are outdoor locations outside some of the halls were commercial companies may be selling or giving away event only good related to their products.
- You can navigate the Japanese language Comic Market pages bu using Google Translate to get a workable English version to help you plan.
What to do after Comic Market is over?
Now some people only come to Tokyo for a short time for Comic Market. You may want to plan to spend two or three weeks and do much more with your time.
If you are attending the Winter Comic Market and stay longer you will have a chance to experience the uniqueness of the New Year celebration in Japan. From being at a Buddhist temple when the bell is rung 108 times to visting other temples and shrines in the days following the new year to enjoy traditional entertainments on the streets, food from stalls, just walking around enjoying the city. One note tho' don't plan on shopping for a few days, pretty much every business will be shut down except for restaurants near major temples and shrines. These few days are a great time to stroll about, take pictures and see as many shrines and temples as you can. Enjoy food from the stalls at shrines and temples, try amazake, and just people watch.
If you are attending the Summer Comic Market you may want to go out more at night and perhaps enjoy fireworks, local festivals or major annual events such as the Asakusa Samba Festival at the end of the month. If you arrive before August 15th you can experience the Obon festival and other events then leave after Comiket.
What if you wish to shop for more dōjinshi after Comiket? Many stores sell new and used dōjinshi; some of the best are Comic Toranoana, K-Books, and Mandarake. Assume staff will not speak English, when shopping pictures help when asking staff about a series or creator. Otome road in Ikebukuro is also a good place for fujoshi and fudanshi related goods. New dōjinshi in these stores are not as cheap as at Comic Market, however they are much cheaper than you would pay at a convention or store in the U.S.
Thanks to: James Welker for his suggestions, Dan Kanamitsu for his guidance at other dōjinshi events.
Created May 26, 2015 | Updated August 21, 2015
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