The fourth edition of the TIFFCOM market (Oct 22-24) got underway in Tokyo this morning with 3,366 registered participants, an increase of 15% from last year, according to organisers.

Held on the 40th floor of the Roppongi Hills complex, overlooking the skyscrapers of downtown Tokyo, TIFFCOM is widely regarded as a platform for buying and selling Japanese content but is striving to become more international.

The market certainly felt slightly more robust on opening day with 155 booths up from 112 last year. 'Both the Pusan and TIFFCOM markets feel like they're getting bigger,' said Tadayuki Okubo, manager of international sales at Japan's Toei. 'There are a lot of Asian buyers here and we're also seeing a few European distributors.'

The market also seemed more diverse, with local and foreign companies mixed together rather than being segregated as in previous years. Overseas exhibitors included umbrella orgs such as Unifrance and the European Producers Club; Russia's RFG Rospo Film Group; Asian outfits such as Shanghai Media Group and Hong Kong-based Golden Network Asia, and solo African seller Summit Concepts from Ghana.

'This market works for us - there are a lot of Asian buyers and we're also meeting people from the UK and Germany,' said Golden Network's Carrie Wong.

However, US and European participation was minimal and most of the Korean sellers were absent. Despite good intentions and the draw of selling into Japan, the market faces competition from a packed autumn schedule, including the recently wrapped Pusan market, MIPCOM, Rome and the AFM.

For the first time this year, the market is being held as part of the Japan International Contents Festival (CoFesta) which combines 18 events including the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) and Tokyo Project Gathering (TPG).

TIFF kicked off on Friday night (Oct 19) with opening film Midnight Eagle, produced by Shochiku and Universal Japan, although the fest officially started on Oct 20. Guests at the opening included Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akira Amari, TIFF chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa and the director and cast of Midnight Eagle.

TPG got underway on Sunday Oct 21 with public presentations of the 38 selected projects, while one-to-one meetings with potential investors started today.

Events on thefirst day of TIFFCOM included a seminar hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council to pitch Hong Kong as a gateway to the China market and talk up the territory's own Entertainment Expo which takes place in March.

Tomorrow the market is hosting a casting forum - 'How To Find A Japanese Actor For Your Film' - with speakers including Endeavor's Adam Levine, casting director Richard Pagano (Hotel Rwanda) and casting agent Nathalie Cheron (Transporter).