“Doujin” is often used interchangeably with “indie” or “independent”, but there's more to it than that. 同人 (doujin) translates to “same person” and refers to a Japanese subculture where people sell their self-made crafts, books, art, and music at local conventions and events. Because of this, a large portion of doujin music is created as a hobby by amateur and professional artists alike and can be as much about participating in a given community as it is about making music. When doujin artists attend events, they often do so under a name/label known as a “circle”, this can be a personal brand outside of their chosen moniker or a group of creators functionally similar to a band or group of developers.
One common theme in doujin music and games is creators wanting to produce the majority of the music or game themselves. As a result, doujin media is often created by a small group of people handling every level of an album or games production. In a doujin music album, this can include composing the music, recording the instruments, mastering and producing the finished album, and in many cases even pressing or burning each CD manually from home. Overall quality, discoverability, and availability also may vary greatly from circle to circle as a result. Regardless of availability, if you have found something you like, there's usually a way to buy it from Japan. Media generally has to either be released in Japan or based on Japanese source material to be considered doujin.
A large portion of the doujin scene for both music and games is based on the Touhou series (東方Project) by ZUN. Due to the “indie” nature of Touhou's development and the easily adaptable music and lore of the series, it has seen a huge following of doujin artists and fans alike who adapt the game's material into their own music, artwork, and games. There are many events dedicated purely to doujin works based on Touhou as a result of its popularity, Touhou Project is often viewed hand-in-hand with the doujin scene and both communities share the same values when viewing doujin or “fan works”.
“Events” in Japan are similar to conventions in the west, but with a distinct focus on selling goods and items rather than showcasing common interests and hobbies. While at a convention in the west, you may find many booths with experiences and showcases for you to enjoy and avenues to interact with fellow con-goers. Doujin events in Japan will often take place in large convention halls lined with tables for doujin circles to showcase their goods for purchase, instead of interactive booths and showcases. For more detailed info on Doujin events, see Dōjinshi convention on Wikipedia. on Wikipedia. Below is a list of the most important events in regards to doujin content. All main events for the current year can be found on our calendar.
Comic Market (commonly referred to as Comiket) is the largest doujin event, held in Japan twice a year at Tokyo Big Sight. Comiket is typically held once in summer at the end of august, and again in winter at the end of December. The first Comiket was held in December 1975, and has grown significantly since. The event focuses on the sale of dojin/doujin goods. It is run by volunteers and has become the largest fan convention in the world, with an estimated attendance of over 750,000 per event. Each day of Comiket focuses on different types of material. Music is typically sold on the last day of comiket, whereas other goods such as doujinshi and games are sold on previous days.
Recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Comiket has had to move online due to participants not being able to physically go to the event. This is known as Air Comiket (エアコミケ). Air Comiket releases are typically sold online via storefronts such as MelonBooks and BOOTH. Another online event called Comic Vket has recently been held, taking advantage of the ability to use applications such as VR Chat to explore a virtual version of a convention hall. This event is a virtual Comiket and was also created due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants can browse booths in virtual reality and chat with other fans and participants. Both are popular events due to the ability for anyone in the world to participate online but do not carry the same attendance numbers as main event held at Tokyo Big Sight twice a year.
M3 (short for Music Media-Mix Market) is a bi-annual event focusing almost exclusively on doujin and independent music. M3 is typically held once in spring at the end of April (M3春), and again in Autumn at the end of October (M3秋). As M3 is focused on music, many high-profile original doujin albums are pinned for release at at this event. The first M3 was held in the spring of 1998, and has run bi-annually since. M3 has an attendance of approximately 10,000 people, with around 1200 circles participating per event.
Official Website: m3net.jp
With the popularity of Touhou being so high, it was inevitable that an event created specifically for Touhou and Touhou doujin works would be created. The Annual Hakurei Shrine Grand Festival (博麗神社例大祭 Hakurei Jinja Reitaisai) or known simply as Reitaisai (例大祭) hosts Touhou only works. The event happens twice a year, Reitaisai and Autumn Reitaisai (秋季例大祭). This event is held at the Tokyo Big Sight in Japan.
Official Website: reitaisai.com
Touhou Kouroumu (東方紅楼夢)
Touhou Kouroumu, as the name suggests, is another Touhou event similar to Reitaisai. It is held once per year at Intex Osaka. Although smaller than Reitaisai, some big releases are still scheduled yearly to be released here. Due to the proximity of Autumn Retaisai and Koroumu around golden week, many releases will often be sold at both events. Touhou Kouroumu offers Japanese residents living on the west side of Japan a chance to attend a Touhou-based event without having to travel to Tokyo.
Official Website: koromu-toho.com
Although the events above are the main events for doujin music and game releases, there are also many smaller events. These events include:
Sunshine Creation (サンクリ)
Comic Communication (コミコミ)
A complete list of Touhou events can be found here.