Surviving Comiket Market / Comiket
If you are as crazy as I am, and for some reason you are a westerner who would like to go to Comic Market in Summer, I thought I would lay out a quick survival kit that you might consider throwing together before you go and stand in line for multiple hours in direct sunlight in 40 degree (that would be 104 degrees, for us in the states) weather.
Which I did, by the way, although I didn’t know it was 40 degrees out until I got back to the hotel and people were talking about it.
1) A small shoulder bag. You can put stuff in this. When you’re at the convention, someone will hand you a promotional bag with handles that you can use to shop with, or you can buy a bag with handles from the Comic Market supplies booth for 300 yen, but you will want something to bring your supplies with you.
I didn’t bring one with me from the US. Somehow, when I was packing, I forgot it. It’s all right, because I picked this one up at a bookstore in Shinjuku for 1000 yen and it’s actually a pretty decent bag. Several different zippered pockets and it can be made expandable by opening one long zipper that runs the length of the bag.
2) Lots of fluids. At least 1500ml of stuff to drink. 500ml of that should be water, because in addition to drinking it, you can pour it on:
3) A towel. This is not a cheesy Douglas Adams “know where your towel is” inside joke / rip off. This is deathly serious. Examine the following picture:
Do you see the happy Japanese people standing outside in 40 degree weather with wet towels on their heads? Do you want to be like the happy Japanese people and have a wet towel on your head? You NEED a towel. A combini will sell you a towel for like 200 yen. Buy one, and be happy with a wet towel on your head.
4) Painkiller. Bring some, buy some, you will need it.
5) Do you wear glasses? Do you want to be able to see through them after you’ve been outside sweating like a pig? You will want something to clean them with, and your shirt will be soaked wet and sweaty. Do not, by the way, be ashamed of being wet and sweaty, because the tiny little 40kg Japanese woman standing next to you in line will also be wet and sweaty even though she’s half your size and a native.
8 ) A fan. You will not need to buy a fan. In the summer, go to any shopping center, and soon someone will hand you a promotional fan. Once you get into Comic Market, go to the “commercial” section (West halls, upstairs), put your fan in your bag, and someone will hand you a promotional fan advertising something anime related. If you want a bunch of fans, put that one in your bag, walk around a little bit, and someone else will notice your lack of fan and hand you another one. Repeat as much as you can stand, depending on how many fans you want.
9) A change purse, because you are going to wind up with a boatload of change during your time in Japan. Remember – no $1 or $5 equivalent bills. Buy something 1050 yen and pay for it in bills? You’ll get back 950 yen in change. That’s a 500, 4 100s, and a 50, and that assumes you didn’t buy something 1051 yen and wind up with some 1, 5, and 10 yen coins. Your change purse will bulk up fast.
I strongly recommend getting some 1000 yen bills and 500 and 100 yen coins before you go shopping at Comic Market. This isn’t necessary – I have bought something with a 10000 yen bill at Comiket and they’ve given me change – but it just seems polite to have some smaller stuff with you.
10) Some tissues. This is a weird thing about every general-tourist guidebook I’ve seen on Japan – they all say you’ll need tissues because public toilets don’t provide toilet paper. They also say that this isn’t a problem because if you walk around Shibuya for a few minutes, people will hand you lots of little packets of tissues.
These are both lies. At least, well, they are in my experience. I never went in to a public toilet that didn’t have toilet paper, and the people on the street handing out little packets of tissues will look at you, see that you’re not from around here and can’t read the advertising slogan on the packet, and not give you one. I’ve even gone up to a person who’s been trying and failing to distribute tissues and tried asking for a packet, and been rebuffed.
On the other hand, every once in a very great while, one of the people with the packets of tissue WILL be desperate enough to unload them that they WILL hand one to a foreigner. And the sheer horror-value of the thought of being in a toilet and finding out that they don’t supply paper is enough to make me say, it’s probably a good idea to keep trying until you actually have some tissues in your bag, just in case. Or you could buy some.
11) Last, and most important: A Suica. This little card puts Tokyo into EASY MODE. Instead of having to get different tickets for different transit systems or figuring out exactly what it will cost to get from point A to point C by way of transferring at point B, you just buy one of these things from a ticket vending machine for 2000 yen, which comes with a 1500 yen credit, and from then on you just swipe it past a sensor when entering a train station or getting on a bus, and then you swipe it again when you get off and it calculates how much you owe and deducts it. You can also put it back in to the same machine you bought it from and add money to it in 1000 yen increments, which is a GREAT way to get rid of all the change you pick up.
In addition, you can use it to buy stuff from train station vending machines and some shops. Even the Tokyo Pokemon Center takes Suica. I don’t know how much self control Japanese kids have, but I know that if I was 10 and I could buy toys and trading cards with MY bus pass, I would probably wind up having to walk a lot.
To sum up: Tokyo, easy mode, get a Suica and a towel and be happy.
Edit (7/7/2013) For some reason, this post has been a target for spam comments of late so I’ve turned off comments on it. Happy tanabata, all.