Your Guide to Surviving* Comiket

(* = there is really no way to survive Comiket, but hopefully the advice below will help)

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Comiket – short for Comic Market – returned to the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center.  In previous years, the event ran for four consecutive days with (in most cases) free admission to the entire grounds. The “Running of the Otaku” kicked off the chaos, and attendance surpassed an astounding 180,000 people per day.  To provide a sense of scale, that’s at least quadruple the number of average daily attendees at any edition of San Diego Comic-Con, making Comiket the largest such fan convention in the world.  Its return for the 99th edition from Dec. 30-31, 2021, in contrast, required pre-purchased tickets via lottery and a daily cap of 55,000 attendees.  (The upcoming 100th edition from Aug. 13-14, 2022, will nearly double this daily quota.)

Waiting to get into the early admission window at Comiket 99...while sitting on the cold shaded ground.
Waiting to get into the early admission window at Comiket 99…while sitting on the cold shaded ground. (photo by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine)

Quota or not, Comiket has grown exponentially since its founding in 1975, notably featuring doujin or self-published works.  Therefore, despite the name, this extends well beyond comics into zines, art, crafts, independent music and all sorts of other products – sometimes covering very specific or granular topics.  There is no earthly way to be able to peruse the wares of the thousands of circles, or the individuals/groups selling their work, in an orderly or relaxed fashion, even if one gets ahold of the catalog in advance and makes a beeline for specific booths.  Still, here is an attempt at some advice on how to tackle Comiket.  Some of these do’s are actually don’ts, and vice versa.  In no order…

Do buy an item right away if you want it.  Since in most cases hand-produced, rather than mass-produced, works are the name of the game, stuff can sell out early.  As such, vendors may even pack up much earlier than the stated closing time of 4 p.m. Trust me, you won’t have buyer’s remorse.

Don’t take close-up pictures or videos of the circles.  One disturbingly popular trend is the phenomenon of livestream shopping.  This is fine if the brand is yours and you’re using this method of sales for your own promotional benefit.  It is not fine if you are the customer-turned-seller treating someone else’s hard work to a live auction situation where goods are later sold online at a markup, much to the despair of the original creators who happen to come across these listings.  (In a nutshell, the seller holds the camera on the items in question, verbally discusses them as audience members indicate their interest, and responds to customers’ inquiries in real time chat sessions.)  A seemingly harmless still photo may be mistaken for livestream shopping, which is why photography altogether is banned at some circles – not just at Comiket, but comparable events in Japan.

Do carry food and drinks with you.  Don’t take a lunch break. Or any break at all.  Taking a full lunch hour means taking away a full shopping hour.  I made that mistake on the first day.

Do aim for early admission, if you can swing it.  For Comiket 99, this tacked on an extra hour in the morning.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that one hour can be the difference between snagging a limited-edition item and completely striking out.

Do bring a lot of cash.  Credit card payments may be possible for higher-priced items, but if it’s a 100 JPY zine you’re after, you’re likely out of luck.

Don’t assume that you will walk away empty-handed.  No topic is too big or too small for the intrepid independent creators who brave Comiket.  A fanzine with zero online presence dedicated to all things Chin Ka Lok?  (You read that right – the Hong Kong actor and martial arts choreographer.)  Check.  An in-depth analysis, in journal format, comparing rush hour traffic on public transit between Sapporo, Sendai, Fukuoka and Hiroshima?  Check.  Jazz band cover arrangements of anime songs, sold as almighty CDs?  Check. Graphic novels inspired by every episode of Kojak?  Check.  Even if you somehow find absolutely nothing to buy, there are plenty of creators giving out CDs, zines and other work for free.

One Comiket 99 vendor had no business cards. No social media promotions. No branding. Just stickers of tarantulas. If anyone knows the creative genius behind this, please contact us right away.
One vendor had no business cards. No social media promotions. No branding. Just stickers of tarantulas. If anyone knows the creative genius behind this, please contact us right away. (photo by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine)

Don’t read Japanese? No problem! (In most cases.)  Thanks to the wonders of technology, so much can now be absorbed through translation apps.  Note that such apps can process typewritten text more easily than handwritten words.

Do prepare to sit outside. On the ground. In the middle of winter or in the middle of a heatwave. Comiket is held twice a year: in mid-August with astronomically high temperatures and through the New Year’s Eve holiday when the wind can cut your skin and coldness of the ground – depending on where you are in line at Big Sight – can freeze your posterior for hours on end.  Bring padding, a small foldable stool or even THANKO’s backpack chair.

Don’t despair if you check social media updates (notably on Instagram or Twitter) and realize that you missed something – you may be able to buy it online.  Despite the love for analog media that prevails at Comiket, e-commerce can be your friend when it comes to picking up works that you may have missed.

One such platform that allows creators to set up online shops is BOOTH.  The site tags which editions of Comiket each title was sold at.  Titles can sell out very quickly after each edition of Comiket, so place your orders as soon as possible because the creators may stop selling certain works altogether.  Comiket 99 products that are still available on BOOTH can be purchased at

Another option is Melon Books, which in addition to its online shop also runs more than 35 brick-and-mortar locations across Japan, with more than half of these in the Kanto region.  For a listing, go to  For what is left from Comiket 99, go to

Do remember to take a breath and have fun. Comiket is overwhelming, but it’s also inspiring to see what drives the creative motivations behind all of the talented individuals who sell their work at Big Sight.  Most do not turn a profit and are simply there to share their interests and love of the creative arts.

For more information about Comiket, go to