Asia » Japan
Gay Guide Japan
Homosexual acts in private between consenting adults are not illegal. The reasons for this may be rooted in Japanese history. Over 200 years ago, Samurai warriors commonly practiced sodomy ("shudo") and recognized it as a superior kind of love. During the Meiji era, under the influence of Christianity, homosexual activities were discouraged, though still not made illegal. At present, the general social attitude is a version of "don't ask, don't tell." In April 2011, Taiga Ishikawa became the first openly gay politician to be elected to a seat in a Tokyo ward assembly. He intends to champion greater openness in the treatment afforded homosexuality in schools. But Taiga Ishikawa also wants to promote registered partnerships in parliament in future. Sex with minors, 17 and under, is strictly prohibited by laws in each prefecture. Current gay social activities are growing. The gay parade in Sapporo is held every September, while the parade in Tokyo is on hold for the time being. There are also gay street fairs in Nagoya (June) and in Shinjuku Ni-chome in Tokyo (August). The Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival is held every July in Tokyo. Many gays lead a double life due to pressures imposed by family, workplace, and society. The increasing number of HIV-positive men is another serious problem. NPO/ NGO groups are actively working to encourage gays to practice safer sex. Gay information centres in Tokyo ("akta") and Osaka ("dista") also encourage safer sex practices. Gay tourists are frequently less than welcome because of the language barrier and a possible disregard of Japanese customs. Gay bars are often declared „members only“ to deter heterosexuals. Gay establishments can be difficult to find. Most urban addresses consist of the district name and three numbers, for example a bookstore at Shinjuku 2-12-3. From this you know the store is in the Shinjuku district, in the second section. Within the second section, the store is on block twelve and is in the third building on that block. To help you, there are occasional green signs giving the district and the section of the district on lampposts and electric poles. Each building displays a blue plate with the exact address.
Cities in Japan
Name: Nippon · Japon · Japón · Giappone
Location: Between Sea of Japan & western Pacific Ocean
International country code: 81 (omit 0 from area code)
International access code: 001, 0061 or 0041
Language: Japanese. English (commercial language)
Area: 377,837 km² / 145,831 sq mi.
Currency: 1 Yen (¥) = 100 Sen
Religions: 80% Buddhist or Shinto
Climate: Spring (Mar-May) is cherry blossom season. Autumn (Sep-Nov) is an ideal time to travel, with pleasant temperatures and the autumn colours. Winter (Dec-Feb) can be very cold.
Important gay cities: Tokyo, Osaka