Tokyo Game Show 2009
Going to the Show

by Evan Miller,

TGS Survival Guide

Even if you can avoid the massive crowds by sneaking into one of the industry-only days of the Tokyo Game Show, chances are you'll still be battling a crowd of some kind. Here are some tips for getting to and surviving the Tokyo Game Show:

Location/Where to stay

The show is held at Makuhari Messe, a sprawling convention center complex located on the east side of Tokyo Bay. The bayside is home to a lot of shopping plazas and other kinds of tourist traps, including Tokyo Disneyland and Japan's first Ikea store. If that's your sort of thing (or you live in Japan already and are jonesing for the flavors of home), a stay in the area might be worth it. Otherwise, I recommend you stay in Tokyo or nearby Chiba, where the hotels are a bit cheaper and there's generally more to do. The main train line that goes to Keihin Makuhari is the JR Keiyō Line, which runs between Tokyo station and Chiba Minato in Chiba City. This is the only train line that runs close to Makuhari Messe, so make sure that wherever you stay doesn't make getting to the Keiyō Line a huge hassle. If you're getting to Japan RIGHT before the convention, do yourself a favor and stay in Chiba; the city is on the way to the convention center, it's closer to Narita Airport, and the less time you spend hauling your crap up and down stairways means more time to sleep and get over jet lag before hitting the show floor.

Stuff to bring

Aside from the obvious (I.D., money, your sanity etc.), here are some of the things you'll want to bring with you:

Comfortable shoes: You're about to spend the entire day standing - in lines, in audiences, or in front of a gaming kiosk. Be ready for it, because you WILL get tired.
Water: This one should be a no-brainer, and it seems like Makuhari Messe doesn't forbid you having your own water along, so bring a bottle for when dehydration starts setting in.
A bag: There's a ton of pamphlets handed out at the show, but not a lot of people pass out bags for all that stuff. In other words, bring your own!
Tissues: If the sight of thousands of scantily-clad "booth babes" is enough to make you blush, you might need some of these for nosebleeds.
A cell phone: You're going to get seperated from your friends. This is how you get back in touch with them!
A red shell: In case a go kart passes you on the show floor and you want to seek revenge. Bastards.


Cosplay: It is permitted, but no one expects you to show up in costume. Rather, you are expected to bring your costume along and change at the show using provided dressing rooms. Japanese events can be a little sensitive towards cosplayers in general, so when in doubt, use restraint.
Cleanliness: Practically every booth required game players to take a squirt or two of disinfectant before touching any game controllers this year. This was partially in response to the big H1N1 Flu scare, but regardless, expect to see someone at each booth running around trying to keep all the controllers and such clean. Follow their lead and be clean!
Pictures: Ask before you take pictures of people, especially the booth staff. They WILL say yes, and they'll even pose. Just don't ask for their phone number. That's not nice.
Asking for phone numbers: Dude, I'm serious. Don't do that. She's only paid to be nice to you.

Food options

Makuhari Messe is surrounded by office buildings and small malls that offer an abundance of food options. If you have to go cheap, your best options are fast food and convinience stores. If you're in for cheap Japanese food on the fly, your best option is the noodle chain Hanamaru (Plevia building, first floor), where the cheapest bowl of noodles sells for 105 yen. If you're willing to spend more, pretty much anything can be had for 1000 yen or so for lunch, and a little bit more for dinner. Hint: it's going to be crowded, so you may want to take your lunch away from the popular lunch hours (11AM-1PM) so the crowds aren't as bad.

Finally, while you're there...

The bay area can be pretty scenic, and includes a few park-esque waterfront areas that are good for a stroll. Other attractions in the area, aside from the aforementioned shopping and such, include the stadium where the Chiba Lotte Marines play. While the Japanese baseball season is usually ending by the time TGS rolls around, a Japanese baseball game is a cultural experience that is not to be missed, so check it out if you get the chance.

On to Tokyo Game Show!

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