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Comiket Complete Guide: A Comic Market for Manga, Cosplay, and Subculture Fans

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Comic Market, or Comiket, is Japan’s largest doujinshi event for fans of manga, anime, video games, and subculture. This article presents an in-depth guide to this convention and how to best enjoy the event, from when and where to arrive and how to attend.

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Comiket: Japan’s Largest Comic Market for Manga, Anime, Cosplay, and Subculture Fans

otaku and fujoshi

Are you someone who loves Japanese manga, anime, and video games? Comic Market, or Comiket—Japan’s biggest convention and gathering of fans—is a convention you need to visit at least once in your life. This large-scale event draws thousands of visitors every summer and winter, and it is known to get extremely crowded, with people lining up for the event hours in advance.

The lines and crowds can make this event hard to understand to those who have never attended before. This article addresses what kind of convention Comiket is, how to attend the event, and what you need to prepare for the best experience.

When is Comic Market? What Kind of Event Is It?

comike, comic market at tokyo big sight

Comiket, or as its full name "Comic Market" suggests, is a huge market-like event, where participants mainly sell comics known as doujinshi (self-published works) that they’ve produced, often depicting derivative manga and anime content (better known as fan works). However, creations you can find are not limited to fanart or doujinshi, as you'll find plenty of creators offering their original works and many creators making all sorts of fan creations besides comics including fan made goods, games, music, novels, and much more.

This massive marketplace is typically held twice a year. The summer version, Summer Comiket, often referred to as "NatsuComi," is in August, and the Winter Comiket "FuyuComi" is at the end of the year. Both fairs are held at Tokyo Big Sight, an international exhibition center near Odaiba.

The upcoming Comiket, Comic Market 104, or C104 will he held in August of 2024:

2024 Schedule Event Dates
Summer Comiket (Comic Market 104) August  11 - 12
Winter Comiket (Comic Market 105) December 29 - 30

How is this market run? The largest area within Tokyo Big Sight, typically covering the entirety of the East halls and most of the West halls, are reserved for for circles (individuals or groups of creators) to put their works and merchandise on display.  The participating circles differ between the two days, so please be sure to check the official Comiket catalog in advance to find out where the circles you’re looking for will be located. 

The general layout or rule for the doujinshi market is, the more popular a circle is, the more likely they are placed along the outer walls of the venue. These circles are referred to by attendees as wall-circles or "Kabe Circle." It's believed that the popular circles are put along the walls because these tables are most likely to have their own lines built up throughout the day and need lots of space. On the other hand, newer and upcoming creators who may never have participated in Comiket before are often placed in the inner tables. Many people prioritize buying from the popular circles, but you never know what gems the other creators have waiting for you!

For C104, please check the "Genres by Day and Hall" on the official Comiket website for details on the circle genres: https://www.comiket.co.jp/info-a/TAFO/C104TAFO/cmkfor.html

While the main attraction is the market run by these circles, during the event there are several anime and game companies, merchandise manufacturers and publishers, and companies owning IP copyrights that exhibit their official works and sell official merchandise. There are also exclusive Comiket goods for sale, which makes them popular with attendees during each fair.

For C104, the Corporate areas can be found in halls West 3, West 4, South 3, and South 4.

Swiss admiral and Naruto cosplayer

Picture from What’s the Difference Between Comiket and Events Abroad? An Interview With Otakus

Cosplay

Comiket is also very well known for its spectacular, high quality cosplay. Cosplayers who attend the event add a special flair to the event. In fact, there are many people and photographers who attend Comiket with their main purpose being to take photos of the cosplayers. Cosplay has grown so big, there are now multiple venues dedicated to being Cosplay areas on both sides of Tokyo Big Sight.

For C104, the cosplay area and cosplay changing rooms can be found at halls East 8, South 1 and South 2 halls.

Those who wish to participate in cosplay have some convention rules to follow. Cosplayers must get dressed in the designated cosplay dressing rooms at the Comiket venue. They do not allow people to be in cosplay before entering the venue.

Cosplayers need to purchase a general attendee wristband, and also must register for cosplay in front of the dressing rooms (*500 yen per day). For those who want to use the dressing rooms early, special tickets to get into the dressing rooms earlier are available to purchase on a lottery basis, *3000 yen for 9:30AM entry (does not allow early entry into other halls).

*Based on C103 prices. C104 prices to be announced.

Venue Details

The venue is spread across the Entrance, East, West, and South Halls of the Tokyo Big Sight venue. Doujin Circles can be found on both the East and West halls. Corporate booths are typically located in the West and South Halls, while Cosplay areas are scattered between a portion of the East Halls, West Halls, and the outdoor areas outside the West and South halls.

Please note, that the layout and designated areas can be different with each Comiket Market. Because of this, we recommend looking up the information on the official site and checking the maps before attending.

For further information on this year's schedule and areas please visit the official page: https://www.comiket.co.jp/info-a/TAFO/C104TAFO/cmkfor.html

Paid General Admission

For decades, general admission into Comic Market used to be free of charge. However to help sustain the event, admission started being paid from the summer of 2019. Attendees must now purchase a wristband to enter the venue.

How to buy tickets for C104

Buying a Wristband Within Japan

Wristbands have different colors for the different days and can be purchased at the venue on the day of the event. However, to avoid lining up for wristbands at the venue, we highly recommend purchasing one beforehand at manga and anime shops, either online or at stores in Japan. You'll find the following stores selling wristbands: Animate (Japanese), Comic Toranoana, and Melonbooks (Japanese).

Buying Tickets from Abroad

Participants from outside of Japan who are unable buy in stores can use the eplus website available to all countries to buy a e-ticket that can be exchanged for a wristband at the venue. Tickets for C104 will be available starting in July.

Although the early entry tickets (10:30AM entry) are set at a higher price, it will be extremely congested during the event, so we recommend buying your passes ahead of time. However, early entry tickets are sold by a lottery system via TicketPay, so those interested should keep an eye on the official website (Lottery for Summer Comiket 2024 starts in late June).

Ticket Prices

(*Sales begin in July, please use below C103 prices as reference. C104 prices may vary)

AM Entry wristbands/tickets: Stores: 1210 Yen, eplus e-ticket: 1331 Yen (1210 Yen + system fee)

PM Entry wristbands: Stores: 440 Yen, On-site: 1000 Yen(Entry after 12:30)

*The DVD-ROM and paper catalog does not come with the wristband attendee pass.

Checking the Comiket Catalog

comic market ticket or catalog

The catalog, sold either as a hefty printed catalog or in DVD-ROM form, is recommended for smoothly enjoying the event. Printed in the booklet is a floor map and a list of participating circles and companies. The convention venue is very large, so you will likely become lost if you don’t have a map or are unfamiliar with the event.

We recommend checking the booth area in advance when it comes to reviewing what to buy there! For each event, the cover of the catalog is done by a famous illustrator so many participants will likely purchase it for their collection.

The catalogs are sold typically where wristbands are available, at manga and anime shops like Animate (Japanese), Comic Toranoana, and Melonbooks (Japanese) every year at around 2,750 yen (C103 price) while the DVD-ROM version is even cheaper. It’s also sold for a cheaper price at the venue than advance purchases, but you may have trouble just buying the catalog due to the extreme congestion.

If you would rather check your favorite circles on your phone or tablet, a free web catalog is available on circle.ms (Japanese, login required.)

Various stage events are held at corporate booths, where viewing is permitted by either numbered tickets distributed beforehand or by advance registration. These details cannot be found in the catalog, so if you have an event you’re aiming to attend please check the information released by the companies ahead of time.

What Time Should You Head to the Venue?

comic market at odaiba

When Comiket comes around, you often see photos of huge crowds sitting and waiting in front of the venue from 4:00AM or see videos online of people getting off the first train in the morning and rushing out of the station for the event. Some people might also think, “Do people attending Comiket have to go so early in the morning?”

While there is a specified entry start time and a time when the event begins, there are no specific rules about arriving early. However, if there’s a specific doujinshi from popular circle or popular product that you want to buy, chances are you need to arrive early. Many items will sell out within the first few hours of opening depending on what is exhibited. In particular, rare doujinshi that are printed in small quantities may immediately sell out.

Average waiting times as displayed on the official website are shown below.

Arrival Time Estimated Entry Time Waiting Time Disadvantages (*)
First train
(arrival at the venue before 6:00)
10:00 – 10:30 Approx. 5 hours You must wake up early. The waiting time is long.
Around 10:00 11:00 – 11:30 Approx. 1 hour Products will begin to sell out. There will be lines at each booth.
Around 12:00 Possibility of immediate entry None to 1 hour depending on lines Most displayed products will be sold out.

*Disadvantages are the writer’s personal opinion.

It is prohibited to camp out in front of the venue the night before. If you’re not a morning person, it's recommended you stay in a hotel near Odaiba.

However, if you're attending casually and aren't aiming to buy anything specific, arriving when the event starts or even later is an option that will allow you to enjoy the event. Do note that during Comiket, typically no matter what time you head to Tokyo Big Sight, the trains will most likely be crowded.

Access to Comiket (Tokyo Big Sight)

Tokyo Big Sight can be accessed using 2 main lines:

-Kokusai-tenjijo Station (Rinkai Line)
-Tokyo Big Sight Station (Yurikamome Line)

The station with the most foot traffic will be Kokusai-tenjijo Station via the Rinkai Line. You will arrive at the venue from the station in about five minutes by foot.

Despite being a monorail with fewer passenger carriages than the Rinkai Line, you can also use Tokyo Big Sight Station via the Yurikamome Line if you prefer to walk less from the station.

Depending on where you are traveling from, it would be good to decided which route works the best for your trip to the venue.

Paying Attention to Lines for Each Hall

For those lining up early in the morning, lines are separated between the East Hall side and West Hall side. Guide staff holding signs will be at the plaza in front of the venue.

If you do have difficulty understanding their guidance messages, don't hesitate to ask a staff member for assistance. Once you end up going the wrong way, you will have to travel to your preferred destination from the inside through the crowds. You can end up losing quite a lot of time this way, so know which hall you want to head towards in advance.

For those arriving slightly before the event opens, it will be fine to line up at the end of any of these lines heading to the venue. However, long lines stretching from the plaza won’t be separated into different halls and will be crowded with people.

Circle Lines

Additionally, there may be further lines inside of the venue, specifically for large scale circles. Small circles may only have a handful of people waiting in front of their table, but more popular Kabe Circles along the walls can have hundreds of people in line. For these long lines, there is usually someone from the circle guiding the line. In order to prevent congestion, they may cut the line into parts so it doesn't obstruct the flow of traffic.

When you are trying to line up for these long lines, make sure you find the end of the line and not where the line cuts off. The end of the line usually has someone holding a sign reading 最後尾 ("Saikoubi" meaning "end of line"). Keep an eye out for these signs and line up respectfully with other attendees.

Prepare in Advance for the Train Home

Areas near the return stations and trains will be considerably congested on the way home, especially during the last few hours before the event ends. It’s best to charge your IC card with enough money beforehand, or if you’re using tickets, to buy your departure ticket when you arrive.

For more details on getting to the venue, please continue reading below!

Additional Tips for Enjoying Comic Market

odaiba afternoon

When it’s time for Comiket to open (10:30) or close (16:00) for the day, it is customary for everyone at the venue to clap their hands at the same time as the announcement. If you will be there when it begins or ends, join the crowd's applause and experience a sense of camaraderie with other attendees! Comic Market is an event for the fans by the fans after all, and everyone including circles and attendees are considered "participants."

Many attendees will gradually begin to head home at around 13:00 once they finish their shopping. For the circle area, tables will often begin closing at around 13:00 – 15:00 (tables that sell out will often leave earlier), with the event officially ending at 16:00. As a result, the stations are usually crowded with people waiting for their train home by around 15:00.Once the event officially ends at 16:00, both authorized personnel and the remaining cosplayers and photographers will all begin to head home. This time frame will also be very congested so you may need to be prepared.

If you wish to avoid the rush, take a break at a nearby shop for about one hour and wait for the crowd to lessen. Additionally, restaurants will be crowded near the venue during lunchtime. If you dislike waiting in line, head to a different station for your meal. There are plenty of areas in Odaiba to wind down after the event, malls like Diver City and Aqua City near Tokyo Teleport Station can even be access by foot.

comic market crowd at morning

While Comic Market was temporarily cancelled during COVID-19 pandemic, it restarted in 2021 smaller in scale with restrictions to entry. Since then, many of the restrictions have been lifted as the the threat of the pandemic eased. However, this is still a very large scale event with over 270,000 attendees that attended over the 2 days of C103. Due to this the Comic Market committee still urges all attendees to continue taking precautions and prevention measures, such as wearing a mask when possible and washing your hands and sanitizing properly.

Learning about these precautions may form a harsh image in your mind, but this is a must-visit event for anyone with an interest in Japanese subculture. There's no event quiet like it, and you’re sure to have a fun, one-of-a-kind experience at Comiket.

If you're interested but want to avoid the heavy crowds as much as possible, how about stopping by in the afternoon? You might end up opening the door to something new!

Information on Comiket

Event Period
Comic Market 104: August 11 – 12, 2024
Comic Market 105: December 29 – 30, 2024
*For details, please check the program schedule listed on the official website.

Hours: 10:30-16:00
Cosplay Dressing Room Hours: 10:30 - 17:00
(C104 East Area: Inside East Hall 8, Southwest Area: Inside South Hall 1 and 2)

Address: Tokyo Big Sight Google Map
Nearest Station: Tokyo Big Sight Station via the Yurikamome Line or Kokusai-tenjijo Station via the Rinkai Line
Official Website: https://www.comiket.co.jp/info-a/TAFO/C104TAFO/cmkfor.html (C104)

Original Author: Akihito Usui
*This article is a rewritten version of an article originally published on August 2, 2014.

 

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