2. Planning is Essential: Getting There and Getting the Most Out of 3 Days

Getting to Japan
Comiket is held in Tokyo, Japan, so the first step is to get to Japan.  With the rise of the internet, international travel is becoming easier and easier. There are many online resources to help you book your flight and hotel.  Start by checking out online travel agencies. If you book early enough, you can often find a cheap deal, and some companies provide discounts for booking a flight and hotel at the same time. Some places to start are:

A quick Google search will reveal even more options.

Don’t forget to make sure your passport is up-to-date!! If it has expired, you will need to renew it as soon as possible, as you won’t be able to leave the country otherwise.

Do I need a ticket?
Entry to Comiket is completely free; however, it is recommended that you purchase the Comiket Catalog.
Comic Market Catalog
The Comiket Catalog is a large, phonebook-sized index of every circle with a table at Comiket. It is divided into sections for each of the three days with information on the circle’s location in the market and a small sample of their work. It also contains a map of the market, information and maps for getting to and from the convention center, and other general information about Comiket. Although the Catalog is not a required purchase, the size of the Comic Market makes it almost impossible to navigate without one, especially if you’re trying to find a specific circle.

There is also a CD version of the catalog available with advanced search functions, clickable map, and checklist creation function.

Both versions of the catalog are typically released two weeks before the start of Comiket, and are sold in various bookstores. The cost is 2,000 yen (approximately 26 USD with today’s exchange rate). A list of the stores selling the catalog can be found on the Comic Market website, here:

It may also be possible to order the catalog from overseas, depending on the store; however, shipping may not be fast enough to get it to your country before you leave. If you’re in Japan before Comiket, try to buy the catalog quickly after it is released to avoid it selling out.

If it is impossible to get a hold of the catalog before you leave for the first day of Comiket, don’t worry! There are paper copies sold outside Tokyo Big Sight. The only downside to waiting until the day of is that you’ll have to carry the heavy catalog with you throughout the day. Consider bringing a comfortable backpack.

Unfortunately, there is no English version of the catalog available. However, it is still worth buying if you have an interest in finding specific circles, want to see what is available ahead of time, or if you just want to keep it for a souvenir. There are small pictures of each circles’ work, so even non-Japanese speakers can look for art that interests them and make note of those circles’ locations. 

Comic Market Catalog

Samples of circles' artwork in the Comiket catalog

Map of market, divided into sections labeled with the Japanese writing system (hiragana)
Each circle is labeled in the index with a letter and number that matches to their place in the room.

Making a Plan
Due to Comiket’s size, it is impossible to see everything. Comiket is open from 10am until 4pm (With the exception of the corporate booths, which are open until 5pm. On the last day of Comiket, everything closes one hour earlier.). The circles are not the same all three days, which means if you don’t make it to a table on the first day, you likely won’t get another chance until the next Comiket. As a result, it is important to plan out which circles you especially want to see. Besides the circles, there is also the cosplay area and a room for corporate booths. (The corporate booths are located on the 4th floor of the West wing; the cosplay area is an open area outside of the building.) Consider what you most want to see, and plan your days accordingly. Check to see where circles are located and visit circles that are near one another first so that you don’t waste time moving between the East and West wings. If you have multiple must-buy items on your list, consider recruiting a few friends to help you grab everything in time. If your Japanese language skills are weak and you have Japanese friends, or friends who are talented in speaking Japanese, consider asking for their help. If you do go with friends, make sure to establish a meeting point. Pick a place to meet either on the hour or at the end of the day should you become separated or choose to go in different directions. 

Although there is no English version of the catalog, an English version of the Tokyo Big Sight map (with locations of restaurants, bathrooms, ATMs, and more) can be found here: http://furinkan.meidokon.net/200901_japan/wp-content/uploads/big_sight_map.jpg
If you don't have a map before your first day of Comiket, print this out to help navigate the building.

Lines for popular circles can stretch outside of the building and into the next door parking lot.

Excerpt of the Comic Market's "Explanation of the Comic Market: English Version," which can be downloaded in the English section of the webpage.