Monday, April 1, 2013

You Love Crowds! Comiket, Anime Fair / Contents Expo, Tokyo Game Show, Design Festa, and More

This post is an overview of some of the big conventions and trade shows that happen in Tokyo.  Whenever you are visiting Tokyo there is the chance you could catch one of these big event trade shows that run the spectrum from only for otaku to only for car aficionados.  Both times I have visited Tokyo I have been lucky enough to catch some type of design show or media festival.  It is always a nice break from just touring around if you have the time.
Anime Contents Festival  Flickr / Danny Choo
For anime / manga fans there are always the big shows like Comiket and the Wonderfests, but there are also more mainstream shows that would appeal to your artistic or engineering side too. These big events have so much on display that you're bound to find something to like!  In this post I'll cover the:
  1. Tokyo Game Show
  2. Comiket
  3. Japan Media Festival
  4. Tokyo Wonder Festival
  5. Tokyo Motor Show
  6. Tokyo Auto Salon
  7. Art Fair Tokyo
  8. Tokyo Design Festa
  9. Tokyo Anime Fair
  10. Anime Contents Expo
  11. Tokyo International Tokyo Toy Show
  12. International Robot Exhibition
Tokyo Game Show
This used to be a massive show when Japan ruled the game universe.  Times have changed, but the show is still big and if you like games it is probably work attending if you are in Tokyo in the September time frame.  Mobile games are making big inroads and you can see the change happening from console to tablet / smartphone.  Consoles are still around for that full, big game experience, but you have to admit that there are many innovative smaller games from indie developers hitting the scene on mobile gaming platforms.  I would love to attend this show one year just to see it in action.

The Tokyo Game Show, commonly known as TGS, is a video game expo / convention held annually in the Makuhari Messe, in Chiba, Japan. It is presented by the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association (CESA) and the Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. The main focus is Japanese games although it is used by a few international video game developers to show off their upcoming games and game-related hardware as well. Like Gamescom, the Tokyo Game Show allows the general public to attend during the final two days. From wikipedia.

I think this is one of the holiest quests in anime / manga fandom for the Japanese manga lover.  Comic Market is held twice a year; once in August, and once in December. These are typically referred to as NatsuComi (??? Natsukomi) and FuyuComi (??? Fuyukomi) (contractions of Summer and Winter Comiket) respectively.  I would love to attend and skip the crowds as the videos and reports about the crowds and lineups kind of scare me.  Probably like Disneyland on a really crowded day and it has to a real expedition with porters if you're really into dojinshi.  I don't read Japanese, even though I love the art, so that automatically limits my interest.  Dojunshi are independent comics made by fans and they even crossover into using the actual properties of the big publishers.  The publishers allow this limited fan expression as it promotes their work and it is believed that enables a far more vibrant and creative manga scene to happen.  Many big name mangaka started out as dojinshi artists.  Read more about dojinshi here.

Comiket (Komiketto), otherwise known as the Comic Market (Komikku Maketto), is the world's largest dojinshi fair, held twice a year in Tokyo, Japan.  The first Comiket was held on December 21, 1975, with only about 32 participating circles and an estimated 600 attendees. Attendance has since swelled to over a half million people. It is a grassroots, DIY effort for selling dojinshi, self-published Japanese works. As items sold in Comiket are considered very rare (because dojinshi are seldom reprinted), some items sold at Comiket can be found in shops or on the Internet at prices up to 10 times the item's original price, and in certain cases, more than 100 times.  From Wikipedia.

Japan Media Arts Festival
I actually caught a show for the grand prize winners when I was in Tokyo last time for this.  It was pretty entertaining and was really interesting to see all of the different types of art and media on display.  I blogged about the visit here. The last 16th Annual Exhibition of Award-winning works was held from February 13-24, 2013 at the National Art Center.  I didn't pick up the big guide, but it did look like there was plenty of English text too.

The Japan Media Arts Festival is an annual festival held by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs since 1997. The festival for a nominal year was usually held during February or March next year, rather than at the end of the nominal year. For instance, the 2010 Japan Media Arts Festival, where award-winning works for Year 2010 were exhibited or screened, was actually held in February, 2011. During the festival, awards are given in four categories: Art (formerly called Non-Interactive Digital Art), Entertainment (formerly called Interactive Art; including video games and websites), Animation, and Manga. Within each category, one Grand Prize, four Excellence Prizes, and (since 2002) one Encouragement Prize are awarded. These are sometimes also called Japan Media Arts Awards. From Wikipedia.

Tokyo Wonder Festival
There is both a Summer Wonfes that happens in July and a Winter Wonfes that happens in February.  The show is hosted for one day at the Makuhari Messe each time and shows off a wonderful selection of beautifully crafted models and figures made by both pro and independant artists.  I'm into collecting models and figures so this is a show I would love to see - even with the big lineups.  I've only seen smaller model exhibits so this would be a nice big, new experience that I have only seen in photos.  The photos are often awesome and make me want to attend.
The Tokyo Wonder Festival or Wonfes (wanfesu) for short, is a bi-annual event to display and sell "garage kits", which are sculptures that usually replicate anime and game characters, but also popular mecha/sci-fi characters and creatures. These models are extremely detail oriented, and many of these sculptures appear in very small quantities due to the amateur nature of their reproduction. Unusually skilled artisans are promoted specifically during the "wonder showcase" (WSC), in which their works are given special attention and limited quantities of their masterpieces are sold for high prices to avid collectors. It also showcases future releases by major toy companies. From Wikipedia

Tokyo Motor Show
I like seeing futuristic / concept cars and this is one of best shows for that type of thing that happens once every two years.  More cars need gull wing doors too.  Some of the smaller cars are really cool looking with their high-tech designs too.  Again, this would be an interesting show to attend if you happen to be in Tokyo in the October to November time frame.

The Tokyo Motor Show is a biennial auto show held in October–November at the Makuhari Messe, Chiba City, Japan for cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles (Venue and Location need to be updated for 2011). Hosted by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), it is a recognized international show by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles, and normally sees more concept cars than actual production car introductions which is the reason why the auto press see the show as one of the motorshow's big five (along with Detroit, Geneva, Frankfurt and Paris). From Wikipedia.

Tokyo Auto Salon
I don't know much about this show, but it looks interesting if you're into customizing cars.  The Tokyo Auto Salon (Tokyo Oto Saron) is an annual auto show held in January at the Makuhari Messe, Chiba City, Japan for Performance and custom dress-up parts and technology display. Hosted by the Nippon Auto Parts Aftermarket Committee (NAPAC). Mercedes at Tokyo Auto Salon 2010 The Tokyo Auto Salon is one of the top motor shows globally for modified and tuned cars (Jek, 2013). The 2013 Tokyo Auto Salon featured 802 vehicles, 452 exhibitors, and 3,608 booth that offered aftermarket accessories for purchase (Wijayasinha, 2013). From Wikipedia

Art Fair Tokyo
One of the big art festivals in Tokyo along with G-Tokyo and Roppongi Art Night.  It moved to the spring time frame (March) some years ago to match up with cherry blossom season and is a huge event with international participation.  If there is an art or craft you wish to see, it is probably here!  A good percentage of the exhibitors are about modern art.  This event happens at the Tokyo International Forum (I love this glass building!)
Tokyo Design Festa
One of biggest art / design festivals in the world and definitely in Asia.  The event takes place in the Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba and is being held in May.  This is another show I would love to see.  It is starting to look like you have to visit Japan on a monthly basis to see all of this wonderful stuff.  The imagination, talent, and expression of artists everywhere is a fantastic thing to experience.  The next event this 2013 will see more than 10,000 artists from around the world.
Anime Contents Expo
Right now there are two big anime trade shows that happen in Japan.  Anime Contents Expo (ACE) is the new kid on the block that was originally supposed to have started in 2011, but was cancelled due to the great earthquake that hit that year.  The event occurs for two days in late March at the Makuhari Messe and was very well attended in the two years it has been running.  Many new anime announcements and all of the great trade booths with your favourite show are here.  This seems to be the show set up by manga and anime companies for anime companies to show off their work.  This expo started out as a protest against a new law regulating manga that passed in 2010 for Tokyo when a boycott of the Tokyo Anime Fair was organized.  I think I would attend ACE over the Tokyo Anime Fair if I were to take one of these shows in myself.
Exhibition Hall, Makuhari Messe International Exhibition 1-5 (2-1 Nakase, Mihama-ku, Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture  261-0023) 

Tokyo Anime Fair

This is one of the largest anime trade fairs in the world that takes place in March at the TOKYO BIG SIGHT 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0063 The first few days happen during the week and are for industry members only, then the last two days happen on the weekend when it is open to the public.  The Tokyo Anime Awards are given out here.
International Tokyo Toy Show
This looks like a fabulous show to see toys from all over the world.  See the newest and best stuff before Christmas and be prepared to corner the market on the next big thing!  Seriously, this would be awesome to attend just to see all of the toys!  This event happens in June at the Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba.
International Robot Exhibition
Wow!  I love robots.  I've seen the Asimo at the Miraikan in Odaiba and that was pretty cool, but a whole trade show for robots - that would be awesome!  The International Robot Exhibition is held every 2 years and 2013 marks its 20th anniversary.  Robot manufacturers from all over the world and Japan hold this event as the best robot fair on the planet I think.  It takes place in 2013 from Nov 6 to 9 at Tokyo International Exhibition Center, Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba.  From industrial robotics to the latest in robotics technology - it all seems to be here.

That's all for now!  Already too much to see - you'd have to live in Tokyo!

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