gay cities

Tokyo, Japan

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Tokyo 東京

Tokyo is the capital and the largest metropolitan area of Japan.  With a population of 13 million, the city has been described as one of the three “command centers” for the world economy, along with New York and London.

The city is also renowned for its exceptional fine dining with abroad range of excellent restaurants. Did you know that The Michelin Guide has awarded Tokyo the most Michelin stars, more than any other city in the world.

Currently, there are currently no laws on homosexuality. On the flip side, there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.  Most importantly, The Japanese culture does not have a history of hostility towards LGBT individuals. Thus making it one of our suggested Gay travel destinations.

Gay Cities of the world

A city of vast contradictions, Tokyo’s gay scene is both of in &out! Meaning that, it’s there but not in your face like us westerns are used too.

Tokyo’s Gay wards

Tokyo is separated into different wards, with Shinjuku being the most well-known and the most crowded.  Meanwhile, the gay community is continuously growing within the confines of Shinjuku Ni-chome (Area 2) neighbourhood.   Seemingly straight by day, Ni-chome turns gay by night.

Ni-chome is believed to have the highest concentration of gay bars anywhere in the world because of its small, dense area – a few small blocks intertwined into Shinjuku’s busy business, shopping and nightlife center.  Though most bars welcome non-Japanese patrons, the scene primarily caters for its Japanese regulars.

Gay Men in Tokyo

Many gay men still feel restrained by Japan’s strict yet unspoken demand for social conformity that is only now beginning to soften when it comes to same-sex relationships.  In a culture where homosexuality is ignored more than accepted, and where people are expected to marry into traditional marriages, many gay men choose to anonymously express their sexuality at bars in Shinjuku Ni-chome.

Tokyo’s Gay Scene-a year round affair

However, Tokyo’s gay scene is not limited to Ni-chome.  A number of other areas have several gay bars. Such information can be found in the Otoko-machi map (boy’s town map), a countrywide guide to Japanese gay establishments.

Tokyo is becoming a year-round destination.

The most popular season to visit is summer when it is hot and humid – a great time to explore gay life in Tokyo. In June, film buffs enjoy the Tokyo Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.  In August, thousands turn out for the annual Pride festival.  The least popular time to visit Tokyo is during the colder winter months which can be chilly with a chance of snow. Spring is pleasant because of comfortable weather and cherry blossoms that bloom during the last week in March through the second week in April.  The rainy season occurs in June and July, with a chance of typhoons.

Gay Citizen of the World

If you are a citizen of one of the over 50 countries, with which Japan has a “general visa exemption arrangement”, you need only a valid passport to enter Japan as a “temporary visitor”. Otherwise, you need to obtain a visa before entering the country.  Temporary visitors from most countries are allowed to stay for up to 90 days.

Getting around in Gay cities

Tokyo, is an easy city to get around in. A most convient way is by, Trains and subways. Remember, that the subway is always crowded but the service is punctual, fast and efficient. If you choose to travel by train, the tickets can be bought from vending machines.  Each company has its own, so make sure you use the correct one (JR machines are usually green).  Most machines will automatically dispense change. Also, you don’t need to figure out the price of your fare . A tip is, to buy the cheapest ticket. Afterwards, at the end of the journey, top it up to the correct amount by inserting it into the yellow “Fare Adjustment” machine located near the exit gates.  Train service starts around 5am and stops around midnight on most lines.

Public Transportation

Another travel option is by Bus. They are fairly easy to use.  Destinations are clearly labeled on the front of most buses, and bus stops are also clearly marked.  The flat fare of 200 yen is usually paid on boarding – post the money into the machine next to the driver. The one-day Tokyo combo ticket can be used on buses as well as the subway and JR railway lines. There are no night buses. The service usually stops at around 10 pm. Therefore make sure to read the timetables that are available from the bus station. Of-course, another option is by Taxi.. For non-Japanese speakers, taxis can be a challenge.  You should have your destination written down in Japanese.  Taxis are quite expensive.  At nighttime, the rate goes up by 20 percent.

Where to stay in Tokyo

Shinjuku, Shibuya and Akasaka/Roppongi districts are recommended for gay visitors, as there is a huge range of accommodations to suit most budgets. Find Hotels That Travelers Trust. Over 100 Million Unbiased Reviews!


Here are some suggestions for things to see & do

Shinjuku Gyoen National GardenShinjuku – a large park with nice landscaped gardens.

Meiji JinguShibuya – a 1920 Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and his wife.

The Tsukiji MarketChuo – the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and one of the largest wholesale food markets.

National Science MuseumTaito – great museum with exciting multimedia and exhibitions.

ChidorigafuchiChiyoda – beautiful place to visit during Cherry Blossom season.

AsakusaTaito – popular Tokyo neighborhood filled with shops, restaurants and the famous Sensoji Temple.

Sensoji TempleTaito – one of the most famous temples in Tokyo, located in Asakusa.

Tokyo National MuseumTaito – famous museum containing the largest collection of Japanese artefacts and artworks in the world.

Chinzanso GardenBunkyo – ancient Japanese garden with historic remains and artefacts.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (TMG)Shinjuku – Also known as “Tokyo City Hall”, the TMG buildings have panoramic observation decks that are open to public for free (weekdays until 11ps) as well as gift shops and cafés.  Use of cameras is allowed, but tripods are prohibited.

GinzaChuo – upscale area with numerous department stores, boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops; regarded as one of the most luxurious shopping districts in the world.

Shinjuku – Tokyo’s major commercial district housing the busiest train station in the world, as well as numerous shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, massage parlors and entertainment venues.

Money,money!

Don’t forget that the official currency of Japan is the Japanese yen (¥; JPY) .  Most stores take credit cards, although many businesses and some smaller hotels do not.  Some have a minimum charge as well as a surcharge. Almost any major bank will provide foreign currency exchange. Please remember that Japan does not have a tipping culture. You will not be expected to tip a taxi driver, in a bar or restaurant.

Useful Telephone Numbers that you might want to know!

The two major emergency numbers of Tokyo are 110 to call in the police and 119 for emergency fire cases and ambulance. Therefore, keep them close to you. These can be dialed from the telephone booths located by the roadsides, and no payment is required as you have to press the red button that is in front of the telephone.  The helpline number of Japan is 0120 461 997.

Tokyo English Life Line: 03 5774 0992 (9am-4pm, 7pm-11pm)

AIDS Helpline: 0120 048 840 (free dial)

Hopefully, this helps you with next igaytrip! Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

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