How to Navigate Comiket

Step 1: Coincidentally walk through Akihabara two weeks before Comiket

Not only will this remind you that Comiket exists, it’ll give you an opportunity to buy the Comiket catalog, which is essential if your goal isn’t to wander around cluelessly.

Step 2: Book the cheapest hostel/capsule hotel still available

Nothing remotely close to Tokyo Big Sight will be available two weeks before Comiket, but you should be able to find a place in the ballpark of 3000 yen/night within an hour’s travel. For instance, you may find a cozy hostel out in the Sumo district.

These guys aren’t thrilled about the 50 minute train ride either

Step 3: Get your bearings during Gay Day

Of the three days at Comiket, one has about 90% yaoi, whereas the other two days only have about 80% yaoi. If Gay Day is the first day, it’s a great chance to just walk around and get a feel for the event without having to worry about rushing/buying/planning. (Note: This doesn’t apply if you’re into yaoi, in which case you won’t have a moment’s rest.)

Step 4: Don’t go up the inverted pyramid tower

Anime lied to you. Nothing happens up that tower. All the booths are in the two gigantic warehouses on the East and West sides of the tower.

Step 5: Go back to your hostel and search the catalog

After realizing it’s physically impossible to check out every booth in person, you’ll want to load up your DVD catalog, desperately plug the Japanese title of every anime you’ve seen into the search feature, and scribble down whatever results pop up.

Step 6: Arrive late

Aside from a handful of super hyped and likely pedophilic doujins, next to nothing will be sold out by midday. You may as well wake up late and grab some lunch instead of waiting on line like a sucker.

Step 7: Buy a bag

Sure, you can bring your own backpack, if you want everyone to think you’re a loser. If you want street cred, you need a flashy bag with some anime chick on the cover. You can be ultra cool and get one in advance, or you can buy a fairly big one at the con for only 300 yen.

Step 8: Prioritize doujins over cosplay

Unless you’re a cosplayer or a pervert with a huge, expensive camera, you’ll want to spend relatively little time in the designated cosplay zone. Don’t get met wrong; it’s definitely worth 15 minutes when you arrive, when you leave, and when you’re making your way between the East and West halls, but that’s pretty much it.

First of all, the cosplay zone is disproportionately small and unorganized. It’s a pain in the ass to push your way through the mob to get to any particular spot, let alone hold your ground for more than a few seconds without being pushed elsewhere. You also have no idea when the cosplayers are going to come and go, so waiting around is a complete waste of time.

Second of all, despite what you may have heard on the internet, there’s plenty of great cosplay to be seen outside the designated cosplay zone. The cosplay zone is just the only place you can take pictures. If you’re willing to let the pros fight through the crowd so they can take higher quality pictures and photoshop them to perfection, there’s no need to take any yourself.

Third of all, the top tier of Japanese cosplay really isn’t any better than the top tier in America. The major difference between Japan and America is everything below the top tier. If the median American cosplay is a 5, the median Japanese cosplay is an 8. Once you get to the 10’s however, I’d call it a draw, with America having the advantage in models (due to physical diversity) and Japan having the advantage in makeup (to compensate for their lack of physical diversity).

Step 9: Find and buy stuff you didn’t see in the catalog

Didn’t see all that Aria, couldn’t have been only one Esdeath

Upon checking out the booths with your shopping list in hand, you’ll quickly realize that:

  • The search feature in the DVD catalog sucks
  • You’re better off going through the whole catalog page by page
  • There’s little advantage to the DVD catalog over the paper one

Step 10: Find and don’t buy stuff you saw in the catalog

You’ll also come across stuff you found in the catalog but didn’t live up to your expectations, like that Wizard Barristers booth selling 2500 yen official artbooks instead of 500 yen doujins about Moyo’s ass.

Step 11: Go back to your hostel and scour each page of the catalog

After realizing the DVD catalog search feature is full of lies, you’ll want to spend approximately two hours looking through literally ever page of the final day’s section of the catalog.

Step 12: Spend all day searching for a Mexican restaurant

On the final day of Comiket, it’s imperative that you spend two hours trying to find a Mexican restaurant no matter how much Google Maps and Tripadvisor try to screw you over. Instead of arriving at Comiket at 12PM, you’ll get there are 2PM. It won’t make a difference.

Step 13: Get molested on a train

If you leave Comiket around closing time on a mode of public transportation, you will get molested, intentionally or otherwise.

Step 14: Learn to read Japanese

Knowing Japanese, the official language of Japan, would be pretty handy if you intend to read any of the shit you bought.