Comic Market or Comiket as it is popularly known, is the world’s largest comic convention. The event is so huge that it encompasses the whole of Tokyo Big Sight, from top to bottom and from the conference tower to the west exhibition hall. There is a Summer Comike usually around the 15th of August and the Winter Comike around the 28th to the 31st of December at the Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center in Odaiba, Tokyo in Japan. The gates opens at 10:00 in the morning and closes at 4:00 in the afternoon. The most recent Comiket (Comiket 74) was held last 15th to the 17th of August 2008. The next Comiket (Comiket 75) will be on the 28th to 30th of December of this year.
The very first Comiket was in 1975 with just 32 participants and about 600 attendees. Nowadays, there are approximately 35,000 participants and over half a million attendees over the duration of the event. Comiket is a place for do-it-yourself self published comics known as doujinshi. Though there are also some large companies that often participate in Comiket due to its reputation and the number of attendees it generates every year. Since it is such a large event, getting inside the event has always been an issue for some because of the long lines. The lines usually spill in and around Tokyo Big Sight due to the number of people waiting to get in. An attendee will have to wait for about an hour to get in if they come at around 10AM. Some recommend going to the event in the afternoon to avoid the long lines but there are die-hard attendees that come as early as 5AM and wait for the opening of Comiket. There are even some who camp out days before the event outside Tokyo Big Sight but this has since been prohibited. Some attendees resorted to this because some items like premium items, doujins from famous authors and circles tend to be bought very rapidly.
Admission to Comiket is free but it is higly advised for attendees to buy the Comiket Catalog. The Comic Market Catalog is available in two formats, in print and in CD-ROM. The catalog contains information about the participants at Comiket and some other essential event information. The printed version is about the size of a small phone book. It contains listings of participating circles, a map of the whole convention layout, directions on how to get to and from the convention, convention rules, and arguably the most useful, sample photos for every participating circle. These visual representations are extremely helpful, especially for non-Japanese speakers. The catalog is not required for entry to Comiket, but it is very confusing and nearly impossible to navigate through the event without it, due to the sheer size and the number of participants. Catalogs are often sold at tents in and around the event for the benefit of latecomers but it usually comes out two weeks before Comiket. A list of stores that carry the catalog can be found at the event’s website. Take note though that not every store has both the printed and CD-ROM versions. Some stores may just carry the printed versions and vice versa.
There is also a cosplay square for those who are into cosplaying. For the uninitiated, cosplay is almost the same as a masquerade but with manga, anime and characters in mind. Though not really well-known for its cosplay, somee of the best cosplays can be found at Comiket. The cosplay square can be found on the rooftop and cosplaying is strictly prohibited outside of the event, meaning participants may not leave or event the event in costume. Just remember that you have to ask permission from a cosplayer before snapping a photo. It is against the rules to snap unsolicited photos. Despite the long lines (to get in and sometimes to buy) it is definite ly an experience to go to Comiket. Some of Japan’s famous manga-kas got their start at Comiket so if you buy a doujin, you never know that it may be priced at 10 times the price you bought it in the near future.