The Gay Subculture in Tokyo

  • If you are gay, you do not need to worry, at least if you live in Tokyo! The famous red light district Shinjuku Nichome will not disappoint you. Soon after World War II, the neighbourhood of the already famous Kabukicho started gathering bars, that focused on gay clientele. Shinjuku Nichome, that’s Area 2 of Shinjuku ward, the noisiest and crowded Tokyo’s ward.

    Gay Subculture

    Shinjuku Nichome is actually the place of pilgrimage for gay subculture, since it is “housing the world highest concentration of gay bars.”And it does not end with that. There are gay host clubs, gay knickknack stores, restaurants, cafes, saunas, love hotels, gay pride boutiques, cruising boxes (hattenba), nightclubs, massage parlors, parks, and gay book and video stores. Everything one can think of. Though a rather small area, Nichome is estimated to have around 300 gay bars and nightclubs. The history goes back to 1948, where the first gay Shinjuku tea shop has been recorded.

    Most establishments focus on gays, though there are a few lesbian bars, too. Due to several factors, there has been a significant decline of bars and entertainment in that area, particularly due to a dancing ban in 2012.

    Popular bars among foreigners would be Arty Farty, Annex, and Aisotope. Though the variety is big, some bars tend to specialise on a particular scene, such as bear community, BDSM, muscular men, young men, butch and femme lesbians, etc.


    Japanese gay sites and media

    As with”regular” bars and clubs, it is always good to come with a friend if entering the first time. Popular Japanese gay sites and media would be the following:

    Gay Media in Tokyo
    1.Badi: Monthly men’s gay magazine published in Japanese

    2. Gay Japan News*: Website. mostly in Japanese, providing a news service and specialising in gathering LGBT news from around the world

    *Seems to be unavailable

    Gay Associations

    3. akta: Gay community centre / HIV/AIDS prevention and information
    Location: Dai-Ni Nakae Building 301, 2-15-13 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022
    Tel: 03 3226 8998

    4. Tokyo Rainbow English Speaking Society: English conversation gathering for LGBT people and LGBT-friendly straight men and women.

    5. Tokyo Wrestling: Lesbian group promoting art, fashion and lifestyle.

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