A beginner's guide to cosplay

Maids, manga, music, and games. Find out how costume play grew into one of the most diverse subcultures in Japan

Modern cosplay in Japan still revolves around conventions. While one can find cosplayers on any given day, the masked masses come out in droves for conventions. Small groups of cosplayers, called “circles,” will usually attend these events together with similarly themed outfits. At the same time, camera-kozo, hobbyist photographers who specialize in cosplay, flock to conventions to capture their obsession on film.


Above: Fans who collect pictures of cosplayers are called camera-kozo

The king of these conventions is Comiket, a semi-annual doujinshi (amateur comics) convention that hosts 550,000 thousand people. The event is dominated by women, due to the second day being dedicated to yaoi (also known as “boys love”) manga, a genre that features male characters in romantic settings.

Every year, Tokyo Game Show also hosts a cosplay area during the show’s public days. Of course, most of these cosplayers go as videogame characters. However, there are always a few outliers.


Above: A circle of Resident Evil cosplayers at the Tokyo Game Show

The anime/manga convention, Jump Festa, is held in the same venue as the Tokyo Game Show, but hosts twice the cosplay space. The show is dominated by manga and anime companies, so there are always a handful of game characters mixed in with the anime cosplayers.


Above: Anime and manga-themed costumes dominate the cosplay area at Jump Festa