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.


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!

Nearly packed


My time here is coming to an end. It is amazing how time flies so quickly, both when you are having fun and when you’re not. If you ask me, this period of time was perhaps too short to learn a language, yet it is also the longest time ever if you were just doing absolutely nothing.

The last few days have been a whirl of homework, studying, memorising and packing. Between a grammar exam and 2 10 minute presentations to prep for, I was a little flat out. Still, I managed to get the tough bit of my luggage packed – how to squeeze a thousand things into one small lugggage.

Osaka student exchange

However, there were a few regrets, of course. I wished I planned my time and money here better, so I could have enjoyed this a lot better. I wished too that I actually went through with some of my plans here, instead of lounging around, worried about some stuff. As I mentioned before, I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to come. As I started packing my bags, the one thing I was really glad about was that I didn’t have to do this in Australia – pack my bags to go back to Singapore.

Minoh and Osaka has truly grown on me. The people here have been more than helpful and friendly, Osaka people are so warm and friendly that sometimes it borders on the line of craziness! Why would you invite a complete stranger home?!

But can I live here? One of the people I met in my journeys here asked me if I would ever come here to work and live here for the rest of my life. My answer back then and even now, I think, is still largely the same. I love Japan as a whole and it has plenty to offer me and me to her. However, I am not quite sure if I can keep pace with the life here. There are also so many social norms that I stress to remember on a daily basis, and wondered if I had broke any in every single encounter. I can’t imagine doing that for the rest of my life, although perhaps if I stay here longer, my tune might change.

Nerdy shopping

There are a few things that really stand out to me about Japan, especially living here after a short while. The amount of completely conflicting issues really baffles me.

Firstly, the thing about wasting. You see a lot of posters, letters, notes and so on reminding people not to waste, showing them ways to not waste (especially in terms of rubbish) and encouraging people to really work on their rubbish separation to cut down on wastes and makes recycling easier and so on. Tonnes of information and action.

Then you get slapped with a thousand plastic bags where ever you go. Initially I started collecting them to basically reused as in-house trash bags to be letter combined when I used their burnables trash bag. After a while, it just got ridiculous and I threw out nearly a whole burnable bag worth of plastic bags themselves!

Secondly, cleanliness. People often talk about how beautiful Singapore is and how CLEAN. Come to the housing blocks, especially the old ones, you had be wondering where the cleanliness went and where the smell is coming from (hint, it’s not the rubbish area). Coming to Japan, I have seen housewives wipe down balconies with sanitising wipes, bordering nearly on an OCD level. On the roads, it’s usually clean except on trash collection day, then there are neat piles of bags either by the side of the roads or inside the collection area. Furthermore, I have even seen old ladies forcing their dogs to squat into poo bags so they won’t be pooping on the ground.

Go to a public toilet in some outlying area, and the stench just overwhelms you, with overflowing bins and incredibly wet floor – I don’t even want to think why it’s wet.

Field trip to Takayama, 2014

Perhaps, the most infamous and interesting conflicting things of all, is how the modern co-exists with the old, classy side of Japan. It still amazes me how people still live in old, wooden houses, modelled and built in an era long gone by, and they watch plasma TVs in side there. Or, dressed to the hilt in Kimono, and they are tapping furiously away on their mobile phones. More interestingly, how teachers can co-exist in schools that has some of the best robotics programs, and not know how to use computers.

As with anything in this world, Japan has its own good and bad side. Those were not the bad stuff, but the stuff to remember that with everything, there’s something there you might not like. And it just so happens, those are the very thing I will miss about Japan too!

Of course, I will also miss the endless opportunities to visit cultural things. The opportunities to do be a part of this society that is far different from my Australian and Singaporean one.

But, I do miss my home, my bed and my job. It had be nice to be back being all independent and having an INCOME.


Field trip to Takayama, 2014


I love and tolerate the cold real well, so take whatever I say with a pinch of salt. E.g. I just walked out this morning, somewhere around 0 degrees, in just my summer t shirt and 3 quarter pants to throw out rubbish.

Firstly, it will get colder between the time you arrive and the time you leave, not warmer. Either get a jacket and come buy your warm gear here (I recommend Uniqlo’s heat tech… They were so warm that I started perspiring in the dead of winter. comes as good under layers, like singlets, leggings etc) or you bring a ton and be proud that you did so.

There are also those body warmer stuff that they sell here. Don’t get all excited when you first see them – You can get stashes of them from the 100 yen shop. Also, be forewarned that they can get pretty hot and you CAN hurt yourself. don’t put it on your skin or on top of a thin shirt. Someone has mildly hurt herself thanks to that idea.

That said, Osaka is still warmer than her more famous relatives further up and around. So if you intend to go travelling elsewhere, you do have to bring warmer clothes anyway.

Nerdy shopping
I want to get my nerd on, but Akihabara is so far away!

I know! So is Comiket, the winter version of which runs while you are IN country! Isn’t that so sad!? haha

Firstly, let me clear any questions about Comiket up – book your accommodation early as they do run out the closer to date you get. The same as flight tickets, as the dates do fall on and around New Year’s. The location is at Big Sight at Odaiba, it’s crappy at the best of times to get around there, and apparently it’s worse during Comiket – so stay further away at your own risk. Also, queues can get huge, so really think about organising this early.

Depending on what you fanboy/girl over, there are different locations for you to go to.

Nerdy shopping

Pokemon center, Rilakkuma shop, a small Studio Ghibli shop and Shonen Jump shop are in Umeda, the “centre” of Osaka.

If you are into manga, but live off poor uni students’ wages, I highly suggest you find and head to a nearby Book Off first. There’s one at the end of one of the bus lines, basically around Minoh station. There’s another one that’s closer to a train station but, of course, costs an extra couple of dollars to get to (Esaka train station). They sell second hand manga, some games, some cds and dvds there (although, other than books, the Esaka store doesn’t have much of everything else). They also have the 100 yen section, E.g I got a nice hardcover Harry Potter book for 100 yen – about 900 yen cheaper than the same book in the non-100 yen section.

Nerdy shopping

The rest of your fandom can probably be satisfied in Nipponbashi. I will tell you first, I accidentally walked into the tail end of Nipponbashi when I got off at the Namba station and decided to eat first before visiting Nipponbashi. While Nipponbashi is way longer than just that section (starting at an appropriately named place known as Otaku Road), I just needed a few shops to find what I want.

There’s sofmap, super potato (both shops containing second hand games, at ridiculously priced games for really rare games, like 500 yen), Kotobukiya, Volks, Animate and various other collectors’ shops for figurines, dvds, VERY SPECIAL MANGA and relevant merchandises. There are also maid cafes nearby, some even with open windows so you can watch them have fun and play games with their goshujin-samas.

Nipponbashi isn’t as crazy, loud and bright as it’s cousin, Akihabara. There are colourful posters here and there, but very sporadic in comparison. Nevertheless, you can still find awesome stuff in there that you are unlikely to find outside of Japan anyway, especially collectors’ limited edition stuff. In volks and a couple of stores, they have got space for collectors to sell their collections. Some of these things are old, some are incredibly rare and, on top of that, it’s an experience just to see people come and sell their stuff. The care they put into looking after their figurines are amazing and you can see some really have a hard time parting with their babies.

No, there’s no used pantsu vending machines here either. stop looking, gosh.

However, if you know what you want and have no interesting in mingling your perspiration with that of others, welcome to the fantastic world of online shopping in Japan. If you think it was amazing already in Australia and America and wherever corner you came from, be prepared to be further amazed.


Some of the above shops and more have online presence (even Pokemon shops and tourist souvenirs). This also includes clothings, in case you ran out of clothes to roll around in. People also happily sell their second hand stuff online, so finding rare stuff is also possible. The fun part comes in both the shopping experience, the PAYING experience AND the shipping experience.

1) you can pay COD, in Konbini or via CC on the website. of course the abilities to do so also depends on the seller.

2) Shipping is way faster than what they declare sometimes, at, sometimes, no extra expense. e.g. I got something delivered within 24 hours of me paying, even though it was suggested it will take like 5 days.

3) Things are VERY carefully packed,no matter what those goods are.

4) Their idea of second hand/damaged is crazy – my books had a rip on the PAPER cover. REALLY TINY. but you probably can’t tell the difference if you’re the type to throw the cover away. For that, they deducted 7 dollars off the price. crazy.

This means you can, literally, shop at all times of the day, giving you more time to study or travel and experience other things.


Personally, I usually use a mix of Amazon, Rakuten and physically going to the shops. I get plenty of discount on Amazon, Rakuten have some odd stuff that I don’t know the name of and can better find and in physical stores, you get to see the quality of the things before you pay for it :)

Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished