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Comiket: a special feature of year end in Japan

Tokyo has been expanding by reclaiming in the bay for about 400 years. In fact, old maps of the city show the Imperial Palace, former Edo Castle, just minutes away from the ocean, but it’s now much further away. An especially big project is the Odaiba area in the Tokyo Bay.
You can go there by getting on the Yurikamome line from Shimbashi Station on the JR Yamanote line. You should get your camera out on your short train ride across the bay on the Rainbow Bridge.

Comic Market, commonly known as Comiket, is a biannual dojin (non-commercial, self-published works) fair. It’s usually held at Tokyo Big Sight in the Odaiba area for three consecutive days in August and December. It’s a non-profit event run by many volunteers. It has grown to be the largest fan convention in the world, from about 700 attendees in December, 1975, to over 700K in August, 2019.

Comiket is focused primarily on the sale of dojin, and about 35,000 circles, meaning groups or individuals who create dojin, participate in each edition of Comiket. Different circles exhibit on each day of Comiket. Circles that produce works on a common subject or genre are grouped on the same day.
The most common item sold at Comiket is dojin-shi or self-published manga that are often derivative fan works based on anime, video games and other media although other circles also sell dojin video games, computer software, music, novels and other goods. In the past, I asked a colleague of management consultants who has taken part in Comiket several times to sell co-authored dojin books about anime pilgrimage to the real-life locations.

Comiket is also a major outlet for cosplay enthusiasts. You can easily find elaborately dressed cosplayers at the sight but may have to stand in a long line especially to take pictures of cool, pretty, or beautiful cosplayers.

There used to be free for Comiket, but admission fees are now required in the form of purchasing wristbands in order to meet the expenses of running the event. For Winter Comiket held in this month, it cost 500 yen to buy a one-day wristband, but you could also purchase a print event catalog with a wristband for all four days.

I visited Comiket today on the last day, New Year’s Eve, to buy concert tickets of Unlucky Morpheus, one of my favorite bands. The band has many dojin works as well as original songs, so it has participated in Comiket as a circle. The vocalist and the two guitarists of the band stood on a small booth, and fortunately, the beautiful female vocalist Fuki handed the ticket to me.

Certainly, there are some other major anime conventions in the world such as Japan Expo in Paris, Manga Barcelona and Anime Expo in Los Angeles. You can also see many cosplayers at Japan Tag, a big Japanese festival annually held in Dusseldorf, Germany. But if you are really interested in Japanese pop culture, why don’t you come to the biggest otaku event Comiket?

YUKI Takano, a member of iTWS japan LLP
e-mail: yuki.takano@i3ws.co.jp

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