crawling some days

I think I said I was going to break up my comiket experience over a few posts. Life got busy – and I supposed that’s a good thing. There’s a lot on my mind now, and instead of sharing it on Facebook, I will talk about it here.

When dad passed away 3 years ago, I sent my sister to be officially diagnosed. It was not to confirm or deny what I thought I knew, nor was it to categorise her. Rather, my sister needs a lot of professional help that was going to be hard to get without a diagnosis. I was rather glad it happened as it paved the way to many things.

At the same time, several things remained the same: My mum’s influence, the stigma against autism, the lack of enough support in Singapore for my sister and my terrible temper. Perhaps I am used to it by now, I just don’t seem to have the patience for my sister at times. And right after being angry, I would also feel guilty. I mean, why am I so angry at someone who have difficulty recognising the issue at hand?

“I am a little concerned.”

“why?”

“coz x has grown long hair now but is unable to talk.”

I talk with my sister somewhat regularly, usually over Facebook messenger or Line. Discussions on the phone or over skype were often difficult, as she finds it hard to verbalise what she wants to say, and she has a strange anxiety about conversations. I am not quite sure what it is, but I feel that she is worried about getting the right answers to regular questions, like “how’s your day”, or anxious to answer you quickly. Over text messages though, the problems isn’t as prominent. she takes her time to say things, and I would correct her language as she goes along – though often she is upset by how bad her English is.

However, what is also interesting is her lack of, what we all took for granted and what we all think is “common sense”. I believe my mother started this, often making up answers for things that she could not explain with her minimal education. This allowed my sister to make up and believe little assumptions that she has not sought to prove otherwise. So, often, I see things from her point of view – which is, at times, all skewered, crazy and colourful. Like the above exchange – She presumed that babies would start talking once their hair has grown long – but that’s no real correlation between the two.

Where it comes to caring for her though, I sometimes find myself stressing over everything. I feel stumped. I feel like I am looking after a child, and I worry about making bad decisions for her. There’s no dad to talk to and consult, no comparisons to others (Since autism spectrum defers from person to person, case to case) that I can gauge myself by. I tried to gauge how she is doing by her level of happiness a few times, yet how do I know the “right steps” if she is sad too?

Whenever I leave the country, my sister is often the last person I see. I would watch her back slowly disappear into the sea of people, and often my heart breaks a little to see her cut a lonely figure in a country of millions. She has few friends, does not know how to socialise, make and maintain friends. Despite putting her through classes, sending her to therapies, asking her to go to church and her work place, the bonds she made were not strong, not lasting and still left her wanting for more.

“I feel so alone and stressed.”

In recent days, she was asked to leave her place of work. On the one hand, she’s glad to be leaving. On the other hand, she feels like a terrible person. She feels all she does is make a mess of her life and she doesn’t know how to fix it. She has had a few meltdowns in the last few weeks and no one can understand how she feels. I am pretty sure I further compound it too.

I wish that there is a place for her, where she doesn’t have to feel sad and lonely, but I am still looking.

Comiket 88: the preparation

Hah! A few more months roll past before I actually update anything. Life is super busy right now, but also super repetitive. Won’t bore you with the details.

So, I just got back from Japan and Singapore. This time, my annual trip home coincides with Comiket plus there were some cheap flights. I decided to fulfil one of the things I heard so much about but haven’t gotten around to do. This will end up being an uber long post, so I will break this post up into multiple sections.

The reason why I am writing this, and breaking them up into sections, is that when I was searching for some information on Comiket, I feel that the information available were barely enough to support me through what I needed to know. Thanks to my friends and multiple websites, blogs and japanese bloggers and Twitter users, I managed to put together a good mental image to work with. That said, my physical body wasn’t ready for it and I am certainly still paying for it now lol. Some of the things I have listed here, I didn’t do it till last minute too, which I felt would have been better had I prepared earlier. Then again, cheap flights weren’t available earlier.

What is Comiket?

You have heard about it, read news about it and is still unsure, ok. I get it. Comiket is the biggest doujin event in Japan. Doujin is what we understand as “indie artists”, but they are also fan artists, so people who work on fandom a of their choice. I know some people automatically link doujin to porn, but seriously, the term is much malign. There are music doujin, goods doujin (things like badges, towels) and cosplayers also come under that banner.

It is held twice a year, once in winter, once in summer. I believe the summer one is a bigger event. These are held at Tokyo Big Sight, located on Odaiba, just a little off Tokyo main cbd area. But because it’s a island made for a specific purpose, there isn’t much on Odaiba and it’s a little awkward to get to.

Comiket is huge, even if I mention the numbers, it can be hard to put into perspective. There’s 35,000 stalls in all, but the number of doujinkas (doujin artists) far exceeds the amount of stalls, so they often ballot for a booth space. These couple of years, the attendees are around the 500,000 mark.

It is held over a 3 day period, during which the stalls change. The first day, it might be focused on game and movie fandoms, while the second day might be more focused on the anime fandom. The last day seems to be usually the hentai stuff. There are official companies in attendance too, but they usually attend all three days.

Entry is free, but there’s a very useful catalogue that comes with maps and all that they sell on site the day itself or outside from a week before.

This event is cash only! Make sure you have some on you!

If you’re not looking at buying anything but just going for the experience and atmosphere,you can just stop here right now. The basic advice given on Comiket website is good enough.

Accomodation

Before you think about flights and all, think about accomodation. There are some japanese accomodation that doesn’t require you to pay up front, so feel free to look around and book the moment you found the dates of Comiket. I didn’t think I had be going, so by the time I intended to book most nearby hotels were fully booked up.

Benefits of booking near big sight

To get in, there are queues which I will explain later on. But if you’re into the rushing, booking near the event allows you to join the queue early, get a “spot” which you can come back to later, and go back to your hotel. This is helpful so you don’t get frozen or burnt to death, depending on which one you go to, and conserve your energy for the rest of the day.

The draw back is transportation back to Odaiba is awkward later in the day and it’s often a changeover and a bit to get to and from other places.

Benefits of staying near CBD

So you can still be a tourist for the days before Comiket and easy access to cheap good food for the days after. After my own experience, I can safely say I feel like death after Comiket and wasn’t the best tourist, which I was rather sad about.

The drawback is a trip to Odaiba can be lengthy.

The catalogue (aka your bible) (if you actually intend to buy something, otherwise you can skip this)

Once I knew I was going, I bought this legendary catalogue from Tokyo Otaku Mode at a gaijin only price. Someone said I was over prepared (lol) but I actually think this helped allow me have more fun. There’s a few ways to utilise this catalogue, so I will tell you of the ways I used it.

Firstly, it’s divided into days. In each day, there are two sections, one with japanese alphabetical listings of each circle (fan groups) by their names, another section via a) their locations in b) their respective halls. These locations sections are also covered completely with graphical ads, so you can view them and pick someone to look at purely by the artistic vibe. Not all of these ads have a website though, so good luck guessing which one suits your preference. Tip: most fandoms are grouped together.

Knowing this was some of the battle done. Next is to know who you want to look at, who you might like to buy from. Considering the numbers listed above, the chances of you browsing can be quite difficult at times, if not overwhelming. To be honest, my entire time there, it was hard for me to browse also because queues sometimes extended into other artists’ booths. I have heard some mad stories from friends as well. So instead, I spent days looking for the artists I might be interested in, narrowing it down to a few, then following them on pixiv and Twitter. Before my catalogue arrived, following them was more out of needing to know what they were selling at the event, their booth numbers or even if they are going at all. Afterwards, I also started considering people whom they were following as well as finding out if they gave away freebies.

Some of my friends also asked me to buy stuff. Combined with my wants, I then used the maps provided by the catalogue to sketch out a “route”: which booths to start from, which to end with, and what’s the most efficient route.this is bearing in mind that queues can get quite long.

On the map, they also indicate which stalls are on the edge. Those are near shutters, meaning they are potentially quite popular. As such, most of those are my priority in queues.

So here’s my own little tidbit too. Coming from Singapore, I am not afraid of long queues. I probably enjoy them really. But what I would be upset about is if I didn’t get what I want at the end of the queue. Planning an effective route was to minimise my sad feels.

Look after yourself: sensible travel

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a foreigner and a first time Comiket hopeful. Summer in Tokyo isn’t a joke, it’s humid and awful. In the long queues in the sun and subsequent more queues wherever, there’s a chance for you to fall sick real quick. This also applies to winter Comiket. So.

  • Dress sensibly
  • (If your hotel isn’t near you) bring a good ration of water, energy drinks (or something to replace your electrolytes) and some light amounts of food.
  • Have things to cool you down like a mini fan, a paper fan and wet wipes. Wet wipes are good for various reasons, but cooling down yourself is also a good start.
  • Sunscreen
  • Your necessary meds.
  • Don’t forget your umbrella
  • Bring a mat as you would be sitting on the ground for hours

In my 3 days there, the first block of people I am in, at least one person fainted on each day. That’s how serious summer is.

Also, something few people think about: IC cards. I decided to use my icoca card (tokyo’s train uses suica) which cut down a lot of time wasted buying tickets. I just tapped and go. Was great. No fuss or anything.

Since this is a cash only event, and you’re likely to bring a lot, make sure they are stored safely. Japan is a rather safe place, but don’t start tempting people.

All right! This concludes this section for today!

it’s been quiet here

i haven’t written for a very long time. being busy does that to you, but so does many other things. I am glad for this space I have, the ability to express myself when i feel like it. it’s not going away, but my postings will be as sporadic as time would allow.

I am going away for my annual trip soon. this will mark the final time that i have to fulfil this particular obligation ritual wise. Nevertheless, I have also found this time away from life a very uplifting thing, even if i dislike many aspects of it. I will definitely continue to do this annually, although, perhaps, i will do shift it to a more convenient time of the year where I will have more time to visit people and enjoy local foods AND not worry about the extreme change in weather.

what hasn’t changed, though, is me missing dad. I am not surprised, to say the least, but sometimes there’s an awful, hollow feeling inside me and, recently, such days overwhelm me. I am more surprised by the intensity of it, perhaps like a delayed effect. I have taken to planning my days in a “professional” way. While I hate to manage people on a schedule, for now I will handle myself like that so I am doing things, keeping busy, keeping my footsteps forward.

Mum has been excluding me from all ritualistic activities, so I am not hopeful that she will even bother to do anything again this year. For someone who was so insistent on following all these rituals down to a T, down to particular dates so I technically miss out, mum has definitely not been following the rituals either. As usual, the stupid hypocrite. but this is my time with dad, so whether rituals are followed or not, i am still going to see him to “chat” with him.

I have been keeping busy otherwise, completely filled myself up with fun things to do, and some not so fun things. I am looking forward to the next 12 months :)