Tokyo, in addition to being the most eastern capital of the world, is undoubtedly the most fascinating metropolis in Asia, although it actually conserves very little of the original city that was founded in the 15th century apart from the Imperial Palace and the surrounding gardens ; in fact, due to a terrible earthquake, but especially after the Second World War bombings, the town was completely destroyed. Modern metropolis with majestic skyscrapers and crowded streets, Tokyo strikes for its energy where the pressing rhythms of consumer culture collide with moments of tranquility that are the legacy of ancient traditions. The city of Tokyo is the political, economic and cultural center of Japan and the place where it focuses the most modern in this country, including computer technology.
What about the Tokyo and the LGBT community? How can this intriguing and complex reality deal with the fast moving cultural changes and the western open-mind influencing their own world too? Let’s talk about it.
Cultural facts you need to know
Japan is a country where homosexuality is not punished. Let’s consider that going back to Japanese history of more than 200 years, samurai practiced homosexual sex and was interpreted as the highest form of love. Today LGBT tourism is slowly evolving, especially in the cities of Tokyo and Osaka. It is a country where respect for the population and above all the traditions of the place does not contradict the most advanced technologies, modern, dynamic and crowded cities, alternating with parks and gardens of unrivaled beauty and tranquility, which recall the mystical places of the films of Kurosawa. A tourism that meets all tastes: for those who love big cities and their daily lives between advanced technologies and shopping venues, the immensity of their shopping centers, as well as countless skyscrapers, who love nature but above all a spiritual introspective holiday. Japan, in fact, will change you and involve you, for a unique experience of body and mind in the extraordinary nature of its landscapes.
The fact is that typically, Japanese homosexuals tend to hide. The information is poor and often gets confused between gay and transgender. Although homophobic violence is rare (outside of bullying that affects not only gay people but those considered “different” in general), people have prejudices against the LGBT world (especially towards women who love women) and ideas seem not to be very clear, especially for the television image of homosexual people, where they are used as a fraud to make fun of.
Shinjuku ni-chome is a Shinjuku district and it’s famous for being a meeting place full of gay bars and other entertainment venues for the homosexual population. Outside this areas is really rare to find openly homosexual people.
In exploring the situation of the LGBT community in Japan (the amount of material on the subject is limitless, but to get a general idea of a collection of first-hand testimonies), it affects the perceived lack of perception by a large part of the population , of homosexuality as something real. Homosexuality and related issues speak very little on the social and political level, to the point where there is no real law to combat homophobic discrimination or to recognize in any way the civil rights of couples formed by people of the same sex. Although there seems to be greater awareness among the new generations, there are still many Japanese people who perceive homosexuality as something abstract, which does not concern them closely. It’s stuff from gaijin (which is a cute way to say “strangers”), or at most by people in the entertainment world. This lack of information is, on the one hand, in a general confusion between sexual orientation and gender disorder, which are often coincided, and, on the other, a lack of visibility for members of the LGBT community who are not male and gay : Lesbian, bisexual, transsexual or transgender people are talking less. Although Japanese fiction works out examples in this sense, the social invisibility of people makes it very easy to relegate these figures to the sphere of fantasy. So, this overview can easily consider Tokyo has a work in progress in matter of legal rights and openly accepted perception of the whole LGTB community. Around the approved areas of Shinjuku-nichome, it won’t be easy to find gay bars or events but you can associate this type of approach something similar to the traditional cultural Japanese background that is deeply intimate and really believes into privacy and protected personal business.
Best gay-friendly places
Tokyo is the capital of the country and encloses the essence of Japan: Shibuya district will meet Japan’s most “creative” and the latest trends in fashion, design and technology as well as focus on the most important gay scene in Japan, Japan gay neighborhoods of Shinjuku-nichome (the largest), Shinbashi, Ueno and Asakusa. All wound these areas you can find some really interesting addresses you have to keep in mind during your travel experience in Tokyo! Let’s check them out together!
SHIBUYA 246, a brand new gay local in Tokyo in one of the most incredible and futuristic part of the city
AISOTOPE LOUNGE, Tokyo, very often organize gay & lesbian evenings and events for some interesting dates and a relaxed atmosphere
DRAGON MEN, Tokyo, one of the best gay bar basically for men
FUJI, Tokyo, one of the most popular tourist venues, Karaoke evenings are one of the best attractions and activity. This is something you should totally give a try due to the fact that karaoke is something really Japanese! It would be the perfect occasion to live an aspect of the Japanese lifestyle.
Looking for something else that can be both typical and gay-friendly? Look for some onsen (traditional Japanese thermal baths) and you can have some time to chill out, relax and spend some peaceful moments recharging your energies and nurturing your body and soul!
Gay-friendly events in Tokyo
There are many gay events, especially in Tokyo, as in June that of Nagoya and in August that of Shinjuku Ni-chome. In July, however, the Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is very popular. It’s a cinematographic kermesse related to the LTGB world.