The application to Comiket is split into 5 main stages. These are namely,

  1. Pre-application
  2. Application
  3. Lottery
  4. Post-acceptance
  5. The Event

Pre-Application

Before anything else there is a point that I must make clear and will continue to refer back to throughout this guide. YOU OR SOMEONE WHO IS GOING TO ACCOMPANY YOU MUST BE ABLE TO SPEAK AND READ JAPANESE!!! If you cannot fulfill this requirement at the time of application, stop now.

NOTE this needs to be completed at least half a year in advance so be prepared!! In order to apply to Comiket (pronounced Ko-Mee-Kay) you must first obtain the “Comiket Sanka-mōshikomisho Set” or “コミケ参加申込書セット” which translates to the “Comiket Participation Application Set”. This is ordered via online through the Circle.ms website (http://circle.ms) or bought directly from the previous Comiket convention at the admin desk.

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NOTE that applying for Comiket DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU A BOOTH. Because of the enormous number of applicants and limited number of booths, the selection is done via a LOTTERY (chuusen) and there is a 50% chance of not getting a booth. You can raise these odds by filling out a questionnaire that will be discussed later.

Circle.ms is a convenient website that allows you to apply for nearly all Japanese doujin conventions online. The site is obviously all in Japanese and it google translate is unable to access critical pages such as the submission forms so you or someone you know must assist you in navigating this website. Registration is easy and only requires an e-mail address.

You can order this application set online on Circle.ms during LIMITED dates that occur around December (the year prior) to January (for Summer Comiket) or September to October (for Winter Comiket). Ordering these sets have VERY STRICT DEADLINES so please check the Circle.ms site or twitter for details. The set costs around 2000JPY.

NOTE the set can only be delivered to a Japanese address. You can use a proxy mail service at this stage, but it is COMPULSORY that you or a friend has a permanent Japanese residence address for the main application stage!! Mail proxy services are not allowed and they strictly enforce that!!!

After the deadline has passed, Circle.ms will send these sets to the designated address using the Kuroneko Yamato Express service in a yellow A4 envelope. The envelope will contain usually 3 items,

  1. Comiket Application Booklet
  2. Comiket Press
  3. Pink Return Envelope

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If you are using the online application service the pink envelope is not required. The critical item is the Comiket application booklet which contains the 6 digit application serial “申込書番号” and 10 digit online application serial “オンライン申込用番号”. BOTH are required to apply online through Circle.ms. You must now wait for the formal application period to open which is usually the beginning of Feb (for summer Comiket) or October (for winter Comiket). This is announced in both the Circle.ms website and twitter.

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Application

The application period is a STRICT two week window in which you can formally submit your application for Comiket. A new entry in the Circle.ms event application registry list will popup specifically for Comiket. This will open an online form that has to be filled with the following details so have them handy.

  1. Application Number
  2. Online Application Number
  3. Japanese Residential Address and Phone Number
  4. Doujinshi/Artbook/Original Details including
    1. Name
    2. Genre (3 digit code listed in the Comiket Application Set)
    3. Page Count
    4. Number of Copies
    5. Selling Price
  5. Circle Cut

The genre code or “ジャンルコード” is a 3 digit identifier code for the genre of each book you are selling. They are mainly catagorized by the weekly magazine they are published in, author, doujin/game/cosplay book, (fe)male targeted, or others if it is not listed. The main book’s genre code is used to determine the placement of your circle in the halls. Next to the genre code on the left is a single digit number which is either 1, 2, or 3 indicating which day it would likely be on. Make sure you have the correct code lest you be placed like an oasis in a desert.

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The circle cut is a rectangular boxed picture that shows up in the Comiket Catalogue for advertising your circle. It should contain the name of your Kojin Circle. You may include other information such as a website address or comment about what you are selling, but note that on print this rectangle is around 2x3cm and there isn’t much you can write unless you want the reader to use a magnifying glass.

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Apart from this information there will be an optional form that contains a questionnaire in relation to the Comiket Report. Filling this information will SLIGHTLY INCREASE your chance of obtaining a booth as it adds to the algorithm they use to select participants. Most of the questions are only applicable to previous participants to Comiket and you will most likely not be able to answer them, however there are some questions regarding the Comiket Manga Report etc. which you can comment on. This is highly recommended as filling as much information as possible has resulting in way higher lottery odds in the past.

After submitting this information and paying the application fee which is around 8000JPY, you have up until the application deadline to change any details in the application. Changing this information is a pain in the ass so make sure you have the correct information the first time around.

For those who submitted their application by mail, they will receive a postcard indicating successful application. Those who submitted online will receive an e-mail notification. This is NOT THE LOTTERY RESULT for ACCEPTANCE. This is only acknowledging your application is successful. After this is a 2 month wait for the lottery results to come out.

Lottery

If you are a beginner at creating doujinshi or artbooks, do not wait until you receive notification of passing or failing the selection lottery. The results are posted late in the application stage (around July for summer Comiket) and only allows up to 1-2 months before the event. It is not sufficient to just do this last minute as you have to consider printing will take up to 2-4 weeks!

The lottery results will be declared online on the Circle.ms website and will notify of a successful entry with your booth number. You will receive another blue A4 envelope containing,

  1. 3 Circle Entry Tickets with your name on them
  2. A Participation Card that needs to be filled and signed with your real name
  3. Information about the venue and rules

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THESE TICKETS ARE VITAL. Losing these tickets means you cannot enter before the 10AM start and bars you from participating. You cannot setup your booth after the start time due to registration formalities. There is no formal acceptance required here as the results are final. In the event that you cannot turn up to your booth or fail to produce any goods, you will be permanently blacklisted from participating in Comiket in the future.

In the event of an unsuccessful entry, you will be notified with information on how to obtain a refund on the application fee. This must be conducted in person at usually a post office or combini, or otherwise detailed in the Comiket Manual.

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Post-Acceptance

After your acceptance notification, you are now able to input your information into the Circle.ms Comiket Web Catalog. This is done via accessing the Succession link at the bottom of the disclaimer. You are also allowed to alter contact details for one final time at this stage before the main event. The Comiket Web Catalog is interactive and is linkable to your pixiv, twitter, and nicodouga accounts. It also contains a booth map indicating your booth position and surrounding circles including their circle cuts.

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At this stage it is also vital that you look into printing companies that will print your doujin and also deliver straight to the event. In most cases they will deliver to the dock at Tokyo Big Sight and you will need to pick them up upon your arrival. Otherwise the will deliver straight to your desk and leave the boxes beneath your booth. A list of the most ubiquitous printing companies is listed in the “印刷ナビ” (insatsu-navi) page on Circle.ms. Otherwise you can search for other non-affiliated printing shops dotted around Tokyo and other major cities. Search for “同人誌印刷” (doujinshi-insatsu). (I will make a list of comiket printing companies upon request)

The printing deadline usually extends up until a week before Comiket. Do not wait, the nearer it gets to Comiket the prices skyrocket and slots get filled up. Make sure you are able to submit your manuscripts by 2 weeks before as you may get rejected due to the high demand for printing during this period. If you know exactly when you are submitting your manuscript, you can pre-order your printing to reserve a spot.

NOTE for all doujinshi you must have information about the book, author, contact and printing company on the back. This is for accountability. For ALL ERO-DOUJINSHI, you MUST have a “成人” (sei-jin) mark on the front cover indicating it is an R-18 book. You MUST censor all genetalia with black or prominent white bars. If you don’t both you AND the printing company will get a fine. The printing company will inspect the pages and may reject your printing request if it is beyond their legal capacity to continue. The Comiket committee will also reject your sample book submission and slap you with an embarrassing rejection notice at your booth.

The Event

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You must turn up to your event early in the morning at nominally around 7-9AM before the opening time. DO NOT line up with the other customers in that ridiculously long lineup. You will see signs like the one below from the Yurikamome and Rinkai stations. Follow the ones that say “サークル参加者” that go straight to the main gate and bypasses the queue. Go straight to the main gate with your three tickets and show them to the clerk to gain entry into Big Sight.

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Go STRAIGHT to your booth and verify that your circle is listed on the table.  Each booth fits 2 people. Set up your booth and make sure you have one sample book for the Comiket Committee to investigate and archive. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A JAPANESE SPEAKING PERSON AT THE TABLE. THIS IS IMPERATIVE because none of the comiket committee can speak english, and they must be able to communicate with you!! If you made it this far without the aid of a Japanese speaker I commend your enthusiasm but it’s a royal asspain for the organizers to deal with non-speakers and they make that clear in the Comiket manual. Previous incidents with uncommunicative foreigners ruined the chance for internationals to freely participate. Keep in mind as a foreigner you also inadvertently represent the international community in the eyes of Japanese nationals. Also please be kind and respectful to the committee, every person organising there is actually a volunteer.

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The sample book or “見本” (mi-hon) is a copy of any new books or “新刊” (shin-kan) you are selling for the first time at any Comiket event. In the back of the Comiket Application Set Manual, there is a set of green stickers that you need to fill out with information of the book and stick it on the back side of your sample book. You will either have to (if you are late) goto the admin table and manually submit your sample book. Otherwise a clerk will come around to your desk and ask to inspect your mi-hon by saying “Do you have any new books?” or “Shin-kan arimasuka?”. Give him the sample book and he will flick through the pages. If it is okay he will take the book with him for archive (this is done for legal purposes, largely for adult books and censorship). You ABSOLUTELY CANNOT sell an item if it hasn’t been submitted for inspection.

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If you have arrived late, you must manually submit your sample book to the admin corner located in each hall.

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After this is done you are ready to sell for the day. These are a few formalities that need to be accounted for during the event…

Etiquette

  1. During the course of the day, a clerk will come around 3 times to check if anything is wrong. If you have any trouble, or there is a suspicious package lying around, report it to the clerk.
  2. At the start of the day, greet your neighbouring circles with “yoroshiku onegaishimasu” and bow, At the end after packing up say “otsukaresama deshita” and bow.
  3. An overhead announcement will sound for the start (10AM) and end (4PM) of that day’s Comiket. Clap after both announcements.
  4. You must separate at least 1 copy of you work as a sample for customers to read. This is called a “mi-hon” similar to the one you submit to the comiket official, but this is a personal copy kept on your desk. People will come to read the mi-hon and decide whether to buy your work.
  5. During the day, some customers might come up to you and ask for a “sukebu” or “sketchbook”. This means they are asking if you can sketch something in their sketchbook if you have time. If they are in a rush, they will leave their sketchbook with you and pick it up later. Be warned, there are some real oddballs out there and you need to be able to discern between them otherwise they will give you a hard time.
  6. If you are a bit more professional, make a business card or pamphlet with more information on upcoming releases, where to get your existing releases, and any websites etc.
  7. Setting up your booth is srsbzns. If you are a nobody, make sure to make your booth appealing and clean. Most circles have a fabric table cloth and poster at the very least.
  8. Most neighbouring circles do not talk to each other. You will be extremely lucky to find one to chat with. Think of sitting in an airplane…
  9. Most of all, have fun.

Will update and re-organize when more free time.