Tokyo Big Sight: Where Huge Conventions Are Held in Japan

In life, there are the usual ordinary days and then there are the special events that happen only occasionally but are celebrated by people. All around the world, there are happenings that people wait for every year, such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries. These little celebrations are sometimes what liven up the spirits of many individuals. However, there are also those big events that people wait for annually. These events may be caused by a mutual love and understanding of a certain culture or belief. Usually, for huge events, they are held in a special place that is typically close to the heart of the people holding the event. This is why most venues of weddings are planned carefully. However, for other big events such as conventions, they are generally held in convention centers that are big enough to accommodate the expected number of people arriving at the event.

Known as a country full of celebrations among other things, Japan has a number of big convention centers throughout the country. The Japanese people generally have celebrations almost every month with huge gatherings held annually in exhibition centers. Among the top venues for huge events such as conventions that would hold a hundred thousand people or more is the Tokyo Big Sight.

A Brief Background on Tokyo Big Sight in Japan: Facts, Map, Stations

Tokyo Big Sight

Also known as Tōkyō Biggu Saito in Japanese, Tokyo Big Sight is considered the biggest convention and exhibition center in Japan. Officially called the Tokyo International Exhibition Center or Tōkyō Kokusai Tenjijō in Japanese, the Tokyo Big Sight is located in 3-11-1 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo, 135-0063, Japan. With the coordinates of 35°37’49” North and 139°47’37” East, it is situated at the heart of Ariake Minami district in Tokyo Waterfront City, also known as Rinkai Fukutoshin in Japanese, on the shore of Tokyo Bay.

Established and inaugurated in the 1st of April of the year 1996, the most distinct feature of Tokyo Big Sight would probably be the Conference Tower. Both the owner and operator of Tokyo Big Sight is the Tokyo Big Sight Inc., whose name only became official in the beginning of April in the year 2003. The cost of building this international convention center was estimated to be 198.5 billion yen, which is around 196 billion yen in the year 2013. The total space of Tokyo Big Sight is 102,887 square meters or 1,107,470 square feet.

Completed in October of the year 1995, the floor area of Tokyo Big Sight is 230,873.07 square meters or 2,485,097 square feet with the area of grounds being 243,419.46 square meters or 2,620,145.3 square feet. The architecture firm that designed the convention center was AXS Satow. There are 8 contractors that were contracted by the Bureau of Finance of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, among them being the Hazama and Shimizu Corporations. It began in October of the year 1992 and lasted for 3 years. The contract itself was worth 40,392 million yen.
Accessibility is not a problem with Tokyo Big Sight. There are various ways to accessing the convention center. For the locals who know their way through the public transit stations, Tokyo Big Sight can be accessed by exiting either Kokusai-tenjijō-seimon Station on the Yurikamome Line or Kokusai Tenji-jo Station on the Tokyo Rinkai Line.

The Convention Center where Nintendo Switch and Comic Market Are Held

Tokyo Big Sight

Tokyo Big Sight is composed of various structures and halls, namely the Conference Tower, the East Exhibition Hall, and the West Exhibition Hall. Standing at 58 meters high, the Conference Tower is an eight-storey building. Paneled with both glass and titanium, the architectural design of the Conference Tower truly stands out. It has four inverted pyramids supported by huge supports at the bottom. The ground floor of the tower houses four conference rooms of different sizes and a single reception hall that can seat 1,100 persons.

As for the second floor of the Conference Tower, it houses the Entrance Plaza, the Event Plaza, the Entrance Hall, and the Exhibition Plaza. The Entrance Plaza is considered the main access area of the building while the Entrance Hall is a way to the exhibition halls proper. On the other hand, a special feature of the Event Plaza is its roof that is made of glass. Even though the Conference Tower is an eight-storey building, there are no more floors from the 3rd to the 5th storey because of its stature above ground. Due to this, the 6th and 7th floor can only be accessed by an escalator coming from the Entrance Hall on the 2nd floor.

The top three floors basically houses several conference rooms of the building in varying size. The 6th floor has ten small to medium conference rooms that can be merged together by removing the partitions between them. The 7th floor has four conference rooms, one of which is the International Conference Room that can seat 1,000 persons. As for the 8th floor, it has 5 moderate conference rooms. The building itself is surrounded by public art pieces made by well-known international artists like Claes Oldenburg and his spouse Coosje Van Bruggen, Lee U-Fan, and Michael Craig-Martin. Some of these pieces include the “Saw, Sawing”, “Floating World”, “Relatum”, and “Art Object of a Cloud”.

On the other hand, the East Exhibition Hall is a three-storey structure near the Conference Tower. The main layout of this structure is composed of a central galleria composed of two tiers that are 600 meters long with three other exhibition halls on both sides. The structure also has an underground parking, which is great for visitors who are driving vehicles of their own. The galleria itself has its own facilities such as moving walkways, escalators, food outlets, and electronic signboards to name a few. It also has a glass roof, which lets the natural lighting from the sun enter the structure.

Every hall also has its own roof that can be electronically controlled so a person can adjust just how much sunlight can be permitted into the hall. Each hall also has its own show office, a dressing room, and four meeting rooms. Halls beside each other can also be merged together so there can be continuous floor space. With the halls combined, the grand total area possible is 26,010 square meters.

Just beside the Conference Tower stands the West Exhibition Hall. Within this hall are four internal halls with an Atrium composed of two tiers at the center. The ground floor of the West Exhibition Hall is occupied by Halls One and Two. Each of these two halls has its own single meeting room, another seven meeting rooms, and two show offices. These two halls can also be merged together along with the atrium if needed. The last two internal halls are quite small in comparison to the first two on the ground floor due to the rooftop exhibition area that overlooks the waterfront. The total floor area of the West Exhibition Hall can amount to 46,280 square meters.

Nintendo Switch

Due to the huge space that the Tokyo Big Sight has, it is no wonder that most big events are held this convention center every year. Two of the most notable ones are the Nintendo Switch, which just transpired last January of 2017, and the Comiket or Comic Market, which is held in Tokyo Big Sight every December and August of each year, although specific dates can be found online or catalogue download. A projection of more than 500,000 people arrive and celebrate inside the convention center annually. Other expos held in this convention center are the Tokyo Anime Fair in March and the Japan Hobby Show in April. Specific schedules can be found in the Tokyo Big Sight website.

Traveling from Tokyo Big Sight to Narita Airport and other Locations

Narita Airport

Because Tokyo Big Sight is quite near some of the major airports in the country, even foreigners can access the exhibition center quite easily. By plane, visitors can fly to the Narita International Airport as it is only 60 minutes away from the convention center or to Haneda Airport, also known as Tokyo International Airport, as it is only 25 minutes away from Tokyo Big Sight, both via airport bus. Haneda Airport is also only 30 minutes away from the heart of the city if one takes the train.

By train, visitors can take the Rinkai Line and get off at Kokusai-Tenjijo Station, which is only 13 minutes from Osaki Station and 5 minutes from Shinkiba Station. From the station, it is only approximately a 7-minute walk to Tokyo Big Sight. Another option is to take the Yurikamome Line and get off at Kokusai-Tenjijo-Seimon Station, which is only 22 minutes away from Shinbashi Station and 8 minutes away from Toyosu Station. From there, it is approximately only a 3-minute walk to the convention center.

Visitors can also take a bus going to Tokyo Big Sight. Riding the Toei Bus, one can ride from either Tokyo Station (via Kachidoki Station or Toyosu Station) or Monzen-nakacho Station (via Toyosu Station) going to Tokyo Big Sight. This may take about 40 to 45 minutes, hence. it is advised to leave early in the day. On the other hand, riding the Km Flower Bus, one can get a ride from Hamamatsu-cho Station all the way to Tokyo Big Sight. This may take up to 40 minutes of travel. Lastly, one may also opt to take the Express Bus or Keihin Kyuko Bus from Yokohama Station East Exit straight to Tokyo Big Sight, although this may take up to 50 minutes of travel.

Just a tad bit faster is going to Tokyo Big Sight via a water bus. One can go to Hinode Pier and ride from there to Tokyo Big Sight. It is estimated to be about 30 minutes travel time, which is considerable for people who truly do not wish to waste any minute traveling. Upon arrival to the port, it is only a 2-minute walk to Ariake Terminal, which is where Tokyo Big Sight is located. An important thing to take note of though is that the ride is suspended on Mondays and Tuesdays and it has been a non-regular service as of July of the year 2015. Still, it operates even on holidays so people visiting on a certain holiday should not worry about it.

On A Schedule: Places and Hotels Near Tokyo Big Sight

For people who wish to stay near Tokyo Big Sight for an event, there are several hotels in the area that are available. If the distance is the priority, then the Hotel Nikko Tokyo, the Hotel Sunroute, the Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel, the Grand Pacific Le Daiba, and the Hotel Tokyo Trusty Bayside are recommended. This is because these hotels are only a walking distance away from the convention center. Each of these hotels offers different kinds of rooms along with varying sets of amenities. Prices may differ depending on how big the room is and on the services needed. Still, these hotels are good ones to stay in especially because of its close proximity to Tokyo Big Sight.

On the other hand, if these hotels seem to be too much for one to make a choice, then how great their services are would also matter to narrow down the choices. With value for money also in mind, the top three hotels to stay in are the Hotel Sunroute Ariake, the Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel, and the Hotel Trusty Tokyo Bayside. All located in Koto Ward and less than a kilometer away from Tokyo Big Sight, many people find these hotels the best option for staying in considering the price and the service. Wherever one stays in for the night, what really matters most is what happens when in Tokyo Big Sight. With various events being held every year in this convention center, what matters most is that one attains enjoyment, fun, and learning.