LGBT Tokyo Then and Now

Behind every stoic Japanese businessman face there is a secret, thus one aspect of “honne tatemae,” which loosely translates to something along the lines of keeping the publicly acceptable face forward, and the true face within. This, combined with Japanese culture’s general disdain for public affection, might make Tokyo seem to not have as vibrant an LGBT presence as hoped. Worry not: In a city as big as Tokyo, there is of course a thriving gay scene — if you know where to look. Tonight, you’ll not only see Japan’s largest gayborhood, Shinjuku 2-chome, but Asakusa in the evening as well. You’ll also get a solid primer in Japanese gay society, both past and present. We’ll stop along the way for a local Japanese meal (veg options available), and a couple of drinks too. Get ready for a well-rounded adventure into the heart of homosexuality in Japan, led by a friendly native (or equivalent) speaker of your selected language who knows what it means to be gay in Japan.
* Duration: 3 hours
* Starts: Taito City, Japan
* Trip Category: Cultural & Theme Tours >> Cultural Tours




Behind every stoic Japanese businessman face there is a secret, thus one aspect of “honne tatemae,” which loosely translates to something along the lines of keeping the publicly acceptable face forward, and the true face within. This, combined with Japanese culture’s general disdain for public affection, might make Tokyo seem to not have as vibrant an LGBT presence as hoped. Worry not: In a city as big as Tokyo, there is of course a thriving gay scene — if you know where to look. Tonight, you’ll not only see Japan’s largest gayborhood, Shinjuku 2-chome, but Asakusa in the evening as well. You’ll also get a solid primer in Japanese gay society, both past and present. We’ll stop along the way for a local Japanese meal (veg options available), and a couple of drinks too. Get ready for a well-rounded adventure into the heart of homosexuality in Japan, led by a friendly native (or equivalent) speaker of your selected language who knows what it means to be gay in Japan.

Stop At: Asakusa, Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo, Tokyo Prefecture, Kanto

Sensoji (Temple) forms the deeply historic heart of Asakusa, but the shopping, dining, and entertainment areas alongside its approach is also the center of Tokyo’s “elder gay” population. A century ago, Asakusa was in many ways what Shinjuku and Shibuya are like today. In fact, the Asakusa to Ueno stretch was so popular back in the early 20th century that Asia’s first subway was built between those two areas (this is now known as the Ginza line). As the area aged, the clientele aged and changed faces too, and especially in more recent years, there has been a plethora of gay bars, saunas, and even cruising areas for the daddies and granddaddies of the gay persuasion. We’ll walk around the neighborhood, talk about history, cultural context, and take a gander at some notable sights from the outside.

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Shinjuku 3 Chome, Shinjuku 3 Chome, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Tokyo Prefecture, Kanto

This thriving restaurant and shopping district is adjacent to 2-Chome, and it is here where we’ll grab some food and a drink (included) at one of the sociable, casual restaurants dotting the streets.

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Shinjuku 2 Chome Gay Town, 2 Shinjuku, Shinjuku 160-0022 Tokyo Prefecture

2-Chome (pronounced “knee choh may”) is the largest LGBTQ district in the largest metropolitan region in Japan (or the world, for that matter). Some bars are garish, some are low key. Most indoors, but some have sights visible from and spilling into the streets. We’ll give you a thorough walk-through, and also stop at a bar for a drink (included).

Duration: 45 minutes

Stop At: Senso-ji Temple, 2-3-1, Asakusa, Taito 111-0032 Tokyo Prefecture

Sensoji is arguable the top attraction in Asakusa, During the day, this Buddhist Temple compound dating back to 7th century, is thronged with visitors, but at night it’s a mellower, perhaps more atmospheric scene. Beautifully lit up, you’ll have your phone out for a picture before you know it.

Duration: 15 minutes

Sample Menu

• Kushi Katsu or Yakitori – Kushi Katsu and Yakitori are both skewered vegetable and meat items, but the former is deep fried and the latter is charcoal grilled.
• Doteyaki – Enjoy some traditional slow-cooked beef in a miso sauce.