Enjoy every detail of the Otaku’s paradise on earth!

The world’s largest fair for self-published works

There is a place where otaku gathers from all over Japan biannually in summer (August) and in winter (December). It is the world’s largest fair for self-published works called “Comic Market” which is held at Tokyo Big Sight, international convention center in Ariake, Tokyo. The history of Comic Market, Comiket for short, has started in 1975. At first, it was an event supported by some of self-publishing artists. Year by year, the scale of the event grew. And it has been held at Tokyo Big Sight, the largest convention center in Japan, since 1996. Today, it is said that Comiket is the world’s largest Otaku fair with more than 500 thousand people attending from all over the world.

Comiket is basically a place that allows self-publishing artists (exhibitors) to freely exhibit and sell their works as a “circle.” Circles from around the world including foreigners can exhibit. Visitors are called general attendees and can purchase the works as they like in the huge event hall. It is reassuring for overseas visitors as there is an international desk in the hall providing information.

Unlike commercially published works, everyone can freely create and sell a work in any genre and in any form at Comiket. This is the distinction of Comiket. There is a broad range of genres for self-published works. They can be roughly divided into two types: “parody” and “original.” Parody is the genre for fan fiction which is written based on an existing work and original is for original works which is not based on any of existing works. At Comiket, the circles of the same genre are brought together in the same zone and other related genres are found close to the zone most of the time. This makes things more approachable as the number of participating circles is huge. The works exhibited at Comiket are not only of those genres related to manga, anime or game but also works of many other genres: from those that are traditionally close to otaku culture such as railways and idols to music, current news, critique and overseas stars.

Because of this, genres are subdivided into many types so that the requests from maniac otaku can be complied with. The hall is divided into many zones called “Shima (island)” according to the genre and each island has distinctive atmosphere. Fans will surely be so excited once they “land” on the “island” of their favorite genre. Especially popular circles are found by the wall of the hall and a long line stretches even outside the hall. These circles are called “Kabe Circle (wall circle).”

Not only genre but also the form of self-published works is diverse. Manga, illustration, novel, prose, music, game, goods, multimedia — works in a variety of form can be enjoyed even in the same genre. This is another distinctive feature of Comiket.

Mecca of Cosplay

Comiket is not only the world’s largest fair for self-published works but also the mecca of “cosplay.” In Japan, from the very start, self-published work fair and cosplay come often as a set. And there are many events that allow cosplay as the “flowers” of the event. Being the world’s largest fair for self-published works, it is understandable that the world’s largest number of cosplayers come to Comiket.

Just like every genre of self-published works are exhibited and sold at Comiket, every genre of cosplay is found. There are not only cosplayers of particular characters but also many cosplyers who are in distinguishing costumes such as that of “Lolita,” “maid” and “miko-san (shrine maiden).” Comiket has become a paradise for cosplayers competing with each other over their extraordinary costumes. “Free expression,” the attractive feature of Comiket is present not only in self-published works but also in cosplay.

Inside the venue, there is a changing room for cosplayers. Basically, cosplayers in their special costumes can move around the hall freely just like other general attendees. Cosplayers gather at the special cosplay plaza to meet and interact with others and take photos. If you go to the plaza, you will be able to see cosplayers of various genres.

Comiket is held for 2 to 3 days each time. And as circles of different genres exhibit each day, it is necessary to get the catalog in advance and check on the genres and circles you are aiming at. At Comiket, the true “fun battles” will take place everywhere. In order to successful result, you cannot save the effort of planning ahead. It is another fun part of Comiket.

Tokyo Big Sight
15-min by Yamanote Line from “Shinjuku” Station to “Osaki” Station
13-min by Rinkai Line from “Osaki” Station to “Kokusai-Tenjijo” Station

27-min by Yamanote Line from “Shinjuku” Station to “Shimbashi” Station
22-min by Yurikamome from “Shimbashi” Station to “Kokusai-Tenjijo” Station

Comic Market Official Site

Next Comiket:
December 29-31, 2011
10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (16:00 on the last day) ※
Admission: Free
※There will be a long line in the morning. It is suggested to come in the afternoon unless you have a particular work you want.

“Otaku building” in Tokyo: Nakano Broadway

If you are fond of Japanese otaku culture, there is a place you may want to make sure to visit while you are in Japan attending Comiket. It is a shopping mall called “Nakano Broadway” in Nakano, Tokyo.

Many otaku related stores are found at Nakano Broadway. Manga, anime, games, toys, posters, models, cosplay costumes etc. – the 2nd though the 4th floor of the building are packed with a large number of specialty stores creating chaotic and distinctive atmosphere.

Among them, the store especially stands out is a chain store called “Mandarake.” Amazingly, it has 23 stores in Nakano Broadway. Each store is specialized in a different genre and has so many mania-oriented products that cannot be found even in the famous Akihabara. There are, for example: “Seruga-kan” which is specialized in celluloid picture, “Hen-ya” specialized in the products that have strange atmosphere such as antiques, “Mikuro-kan” specialized in small goods and “Mania-kan” specialized in old manga and scripts of special effects movies. Treasures are hidden everywhere. It is more than otaku culture. It can be said it is the mecca of subculture.

As there are game arcade and maid café in the building, otaku can spend a day comfortably there. As the density of stores and products is higher than that of Akihabara, it is easier to shop. It sure is the most appropriate place for the “otaku shopping.”

“Mandarake” Panorama view

5-min walk from “Nakano” Station north exit
4-min from Chuo Line Rapid (for Tachikawa and Takao) “Shinjuku” Station to “Nakano” Station

Nakano Broadway Official Site(Japanese)

Writer’s Profile

Au Yeung Yu Leung
Yu Leung was born in Hong Kong. She was engaged in editing and writing for major game magazines in Hong Kong since her late teens. After graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, She became the chief editor of a major game magazine. She is the author of bestselling books including “ゲームでよく見かける日本語 (Japanese words often seen in games).” She did comparative research on Japanese and Hong Kong otaku culture at the Graduate School of the University of Tokyo.