Translated by Sandy Lau
Get Ready For NatsuComi! A Checklist Of Essentials You Should Bring
Comic Market (Comiket) is the world’s largest fair for all things manga, anime, and games. Event-goers should come fully prepared because it is held in mid-summer when it is very hot outside. Read on to find out what you'll need in order to enjoy the summer Comiket.
Written by Hirakawa
How to Prepare for NatsuComi, the Summer Comic Market
Comic Market (Comiket) is Japan’s largest event that unites gamers and anime lovers under one roof. It is held twice a year in the summer and winter.
The Summer Comic Market, widely known as NatsuComi, is scheduled annually during the hottest time in Japan. Whether you’re looking forward to fully enjoying the event or planning to go as a casual attendee, it's important for event-goers to make preparations in advance.
Here’s a checklist of essential items you should bring to NatsuComi.
Why Should You Come Prepared?
Over the course of three days, there are over 500,000 people clustering in the venue, forming long lines even at the break of dawn. Some people may have already heard such rumors about Comiket.
Well, these rumors are unmistakable facts. In addition, those attending NatsuComi will have to deal with intense heat. Around the time of the convention, the temperature in Japan exceeds 30°C and sometimes reaches between 38 – 40°C depending on the day.
NatsuComi attendees will inescapably find themselves fighting against a stampede of hundreds of thousands of people under the blazing sun. Thus, participants must make flawless preparations in order to safely enjoy the event.
You may be intimidated by the information we've provided so far. We will now introduce the essentials you’ll need into four groups based on the type of attendee you are.
Just like how there will be a variety of people attending the convention—from those who prefer not to line up early in the morning to others that only want to shop around for doujinshi (*1) in the circle areas—the essential items will also vary slightly for each individual.
First, let’s check what type of attendee you are. Based on your personal preferences and physical condition, you may make slight adjustments to your list.
*1 Doujinshi: a magazine depicting a manga or anime that is produced by a team of people at their own expense.
Table of Contents
Essentials Items for All Attendees
1. Comiket Catalog or Shopping List
The event venue is very spacious and split into several halls. In order to avoid wasting time by either getting lost in the venue or being unable to find the circle you’re looking for, it would be best to compile all your information beforehand.
So we'd like to suggest buying the Comiket catalog. A map of the venue is printed inside. Simply detach the map and carry it with you without making your bags bulky (if you've purchased the DVD-ROM version, you can print out the map instead).
If you have several things you want to buy, it would be reassuring to make a shopping list ahead of time. It’d also be a good idea to directly write your list on your map. In other words, try to make your shopping list easy to read.
We also recommend buying the catalog in advance, rather than on the day of the event, to devise your shopping list. The catalog can be purchased at around 2,500 yen at participating manga and anime shops (Animate, Comic Toranoana, Melonbooks (Japanese)) or as a DVD-ROM for an even cheaper price.
*Comikets held between July 2019 – July 2020 will enforce an entry fee. Please refer to the changes published in the article below.
2. Handkerchief and Towels
Photo by Pixta
When you’re under the blazing sun with nowhere to escape in a crowd of people, you'll naturally be dripping with sweat. A towel to wipe off the sweat is an essential item, but the size and amount you’ll need to prepare will depend on the person and timeframe. If you’re someone that sweats profusely, please prepare a larger towel. If you’ll be waiting in line for a long time, please bring two or more towels.
For the first train crowd—who will be in line for up to five hours—bring two to three face towels. If you own a large towel, you’ll be able to wrap it around your head better than a handkerchief to effectively block out the sun as you wait to enter the convention.
Bring another towel if you plan on bringing cold drinks. The water from condensation may cause your belongings to get wet, so be sure to wrap a towel around the bottle to prevent this.
When you’re sweating, you should be careful of heatstroke caused by dehydration. Because your body loses both water and salt when you sweat, drinking a sports drink is better than mineral water. Additionally, the proper way to rehydrate is to slowly consume small amounts of water. If you start feeling sick, avoid chugging your drink all at once.
If you’ll be stopping by the event in the afternoon, a 500 ml bottle will be more than enough. There are also vending machines available in the halls. However, for those who’ll be lining up in the morning, aim at bringing a one-liter bottle. There’s also a technique to freeze your drinks beforehand. Before the ice melts, you can place your bottle on your forehead to fend off the heat.
Prepare snacks, packed meals, onigiri (rice balls), or sandwiches so you’ll be able to satisfy your stomach while waiting in line. You must, however, remember to bring your trash home with you.
4. Block the Sun with a Hat or Parasol
Sun protective products are also important items to have. A parasol will be fine if you won’t be lining up. However, for those who are, it would be better to wear a hat to not bother your neighbors. If you’re wearing short-sleeved clothing, you can prevent sunburns with arm covers. Sunglasses are also helpful to have on hand.
Sunscreen is also a must-have item. If you’ll be lining up in the morning, you will especially feel at ease reapplying your sunscreen as you wait in line.
The scalding midsummer sun in Japan can be quite severe. Please be prepared to avoid becoming bright red from sunburn by the time you’re heading home.
5. Counteract the Heat with a Fan
A folded or round fan is an essential item for counteracting the heat. We also recommend having a small, portable electric fan. It would also be helpful to have cooling products like cooling sprays, antiperspirant sheets, and cooling gel sheets.
If you won't be in the morning lines, you’ll be fine preparing one of these items when awaiting to make purchases at the venue. However, if you'll be in the early morning crowd, you won't have to worry if you bring two or three items based on your waiting time.
6. A Portable Charger
In this day and age, smartphones are a must-have accessory we can’t detach ourselves no matter where we go. You’ll run into a problem if your phone runs out of battery in the middle of the day. You'll actively be using your smartphone to check the train schedules from the venue, event information, and to follow the latest updates shared by circles.
You might also go off on your own or end up separated from your friends in the middle of a swarm of people. It would be tragic and turn into a huge problem if your battery ran out when this unfolds. For the first train crowd, smartphones are also a particularly indispensable item as they wait in line, trying to use their device until its last remaining battery power.
7. Transportation IC Card
Picture from How To Charge Your Suica
While it's perfectly fine to buy your train tickets, a transportation IC card—like Suica or Pasmo—is especially convenient to use on busy days like Comiket. To access the venue, you’ll be using the train stations to at least travel to the nearest station to Tokyo Big Sight. Please make sure to charge your transportation card in advance.
If you’ll be using tickets, be sure to buy your return ticket beforehand as well. However, you may change your destination after the event and go somewhere else with your friends. If that happens, it’s a bit difficult to have your ticket refunded and repurchase a new ticket, so having an IC card is still the best option.
Prioritize Comfortable Clothing!
Because this event is a fight against intense heat and overwhelming crowds, it's unavoidable to keep your daily appearance from becoming slightly ruined. For your safety, remember to wear comfortable clothing that is easy to move in and suitable for the summer.
For example, avoid wearing clothes with decorations that may catch onto the people around you, heels and stilettos that are difficult to walk in, and wear breathable clothing. For the early morning crowd who will be standing in strong and direct sunlight, avoid wearing clothes that expose your skin.
Additional Items for the First Train Crowd
1. A Bag to Hold Your Food, Drinks, and Trash
Many people in the first train crowd may not be able to eat breakfast. You will also have to wait in line for five hours, causing your health to decline and your body to become faint if you don’t eat anything. For this reason, be sure to bring something light to eat while waiting for the event to open.
For example, we recommend onigiri, sandwiches, and drinks. Aside from light meals, it would also be a good idea to have nutritionally fortified snacks like CalorieMate. For additional information on drinks, please refer to "Section 3. Drinks" above.
The main point is to have a plastic bag to bring home the trash you produce while eating.
2. A Collapsible Chair, Paper or Plastic Sheet to Sit On
Constantly standing for over two to three hours is extremely difficult! Once the event begins, you’ll be walking around to shop, so standing in line for a prolonged time period might badly affect your health. Therefore, it would be beneficial to have items you can sit on.
Plastic sheets, newspapers, and even parts of the event catalog that you won’t use can be thrown away once you’ve entered the venue, so they won’t get in the way. If you have a small collapsible chair that fits in your bag or backpack, that would be even more comfortable. On the other hand, this will increase your belongings, so please carefully prioritize on what items to bring.
3. Products to Effectively Pass Time
While waiting for the event to start, there'll be moments you're in silence, sitting, watching the sunrise, and eventually gazing at clouds passing by. Ah, how boring! Products to pass time, like a novel you’ve begun reading or a game, are a must. If you prefer chatting with friends on your phone, don’t forget to bring a portable charger.
Additional Items for the Circle Area
1. Loose Change and Cash
The people in circles that sell their doujinshi and goods are ordinary people like us. They are neither affiliated with shops nor corporations, so they have a limited amount of change they can prepare. If you pay with the right amount of money, both parties will be able to have a smooth transaction.
A doujinshi is priced between 400 – 800 yen. The currency commonly used are 100 and 500 yen coins and 1,000 yen banknotes. Make an effort to not use money outside of these coins and bills.
2. ID or Passport
Some doujinshi works on sale will have an established age limit for its readers, resulting in situations where the circle will have to verify your age. Be sure to prepare an ID or passport that clearly states your date of birth.
3. A Pouch for Small Change and Your ID
When shopping in the circle area, you will often continue to shop at neighboring tables. To ensure a smooth transaction, be sure to place and separate your coins or 1,000 yen bills in a small pouch.
Additionally, place your ID with your money to swiftly display it when requested.
4. Shopping Bags
As mentioned above, the people selling their creative works through a circle are ordinary people and won’t provide a bag for you to place your purchases in. Prepare a suitable shopping bag for what’s on your shopping list.
If you’re planning to do a small amount of shopping, then you’ll be fine with either a shoulder or eco bag. However, if you plan to make many purchases, then you will need a backpack or small suitcase. When using these types of bags, please be careful not to bump into the people around you.
5. Presents and Letters for Circles You Adore
While this isn’t necessary, if a circle you love will be attending the event, you can send encouragements by writing a simple letter or providing them with snacks!
For snacks, choose something that is commonly sold and packaged individually in an unopened state so both parties can have a pleasant interaction. At the venue, it will be hot and snacks will easily spoil, so choose something that won’t go bad in the heat. It would also be a great idea to pack an assortment of snacks.
Not Necessary, But Good Items to Have on Hand
1. Shio Ame (Salt Candy)
Another useful item to have on a hot, sweltering day is shio ame (salt candy) that will protect your body against mineral insufficiency. These candies—with the kanji character for salt printed on its packaging—are found in convenience stores.
2. Large Plastic Bags and Raincoats
In Japan, it will occasionally rain in the midsummer. Be safe and prepare a plastic bag to prevent your purchased goodies from getting wet. Choose a size suitable for the amount you’ll be buying. Some people even bring large bags that can hold any sort of personal belongings.
The rain doesn’t necessarily fall on the days of the annual event, so it isn't always a must to prepare beforehand. Additionally, if your bag already has a waterproof finish, there is no need to have a plastic bag.
Raincoats, on the other hand, are used when it unexpectedly rains while you’re waiting in line for the event to open. The line stretches on without any gaps, so it would not only be a hindrance to your neighbors to open an umbrella, but also dangerous if a strong wind were to blow. As such, simply bring a raincoat to wear.
3. Tickets for Watching Stage Events
At Comiket, special events are frequently hosted by various corporation booths. The subjects of each event are diverse and include talk shows with anime directors, voice actors, mini concerts, and more.
Most events will have a limit to their audience and will often distribute numbered tickets that are separate from your Comiket pass. One to two months before the convention, check the newsfeed of your favorite company to obtain information on whether there will be a special event or if they’ll be handing out tickets.
4. Digital and Phone Cameras
From eye-catching costumes to attires that will make you as yourself “How did it turn out like this?,” large crowds of cosplayers gather at every annual Comiket.
There is also a cosplay area inside the event venue where picture photography is allowed (when taking a picture, please obtain the cosplayer’s permission and have good manners). Please be aware that photography outside of this area is not allowed.
Enjoy NatsuComi with Perfect Preparation!
On top of being an event where huge amounts of attendees will gather, NatsuComi is held during the hottest time of the year. It is sometimes even called a battleground. Those heading to this “battleground” must tackle the event with flawless preparation.
Preparations will be different depending on what type of attendee you are and your own physical condition. For example, those in the first train crowd that plan to attend before the event opens should be more heavily equipped than someone stopping by in the afternoon. If you’re someone that isn’t good with the sun or the heat, please go to the venue only after taking the proper measures.
What’s important above all else is adequate sleep. Please fully restore your energy to enjoy NatsuComi to the fullest!
NatsuComi Essentials Checklist
Below is the NatsuComi essentials checklist. Please use this list by making a memo on your phone or printing it out.
Essentials for All Attendees
- Comiket catalog or shopping list
- Handkerchief or towel
- Sun protection products like hats or a parasol
- Heat preventive goods like a folded fan
- A portable charger
- Transportation IC card
Additional Items for Early Morning Attendees
- A bag to hold your food, drinks, and trash
- A collapsible chair, paper, or plastic sheet that you can sit on
- Your preferred item to pass the time
Additional Items for the Circle Area
- Small change and money
- ID or passport
- A pouch for your change and ID
- Shopping bag
- Snacks or a letter for your favorite circle
Not Necessary, But Good Items to Have on Hand
- Shio ame (salt candy)
- A large plastic bag or raincoat
- Numbered tickets to watch stage events
- Digital camera or phone camera
Original author: Akihito Usui
*This article is a rewritten version of an article originally published on August 5, 2014.