Gay Travel Tokyo
If you've never explored Asia or Japan, Tokyo is the perfect place to start. This beautiful cosmopolitan jewel is at once a thriving modern city and a bastion of traditional Japanese culture. Here, neon lights and massive skyscrapers meet the ancient, mystic charm of Asia. The capital of Japan, Tokyo is one of the most densely-populated metropolitan areas in the world and is quickly becoming a top LGBTQ tourist destination.
The Gay Scene in Tokyo
You'll find most of Tokyo's gay community and nightlife in Shinjuku Ni-chōme. Ni-chōme has more gay bars than any neighborhood in the world, contained within a small area, while Shinjuku boasts great outdoor cafes, adorable boutiques and amazing restaurants, all catering to the gay and lesbian community. Out-of-towers might want to bring a local friend with them when they go out; many gay bars and clubs in the city are hesitant to allow foreigners in.
Shinjuku Ni-chōme is where you'll find the majority of Tokyo's gay nightlife, LGBT bookstores, saunas and hotels. Out-of-towers might want to bring a local friend with them when they go out, many gay bars and clubs in the city are hesitant to allow foreigners in, though many patrons and employees alike speak fluent English.
This LGBTQ-friendly cultural center is a café, bar, bookstore and music venue that hosts regular events with the Tokyo gay community. The unassuming second-floor location is usually bustling with activity from midday until late at night, and locals and foreigners alike are drawn to the selection of international literature and music.
This comfortable restaurant offers a casual dining experience for travelers interested in traditional Japanese ingredients transformed into modern-day fusion dishes. Located in an LGBTQ-focused community space called Colorful Station, Irodori provides a calm respite from Tokyo's bustling streets.
Gay Nightlife in Tokyo
Tokyo is well-known for being gay-friendly, thanks in no small part to the dense number of gay bars and nightclubs in the city, particularly in Shinjuku Ni-chōme.
Tac's Knot *LGBT-owned
Master Tac, local artist and active member of the LGBTQ community in Tokyo founded this quaint cocktail bar that features a different local gay artist each month. This small venue is perfect for gay travelers interested in Tokyo's modern art and culture.
One of the most welcoming gay and lesbian venues in Tokyo, Advocates Café is a must for every gay tourist looking for a fun night out. With affordable drinks, friendly staff and a great atmosphere, this bar is popular among locals and foreigners alike.
Shangri-La at Age Ha
Gays in Tokyo looking to dance need look no further than Shangri-La at Age Ha. Age Ha, a popular Tokyo club, hosts monthly LGBTQ dance parties called Shangri-La that attract gays from across Japan and Asia. Gay travelers in Tokyo during a Shangri-La night shouldn't miss out!
Gay-Friendly Activities & Destinations
Rich in culture, historical significance, and beauty, Tokyo is one of the most exciting destinations for creative travelers interested in sight-seeing and cultural activities.
In June, the annual Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Film Festival is a must for gay travelers in Japan. The festival screens films that deal with LGBTQ issues, and all Japanese-language films are screened with English subtitles.
This contemporary art museum features an extensive variety of rotating exhibits from artists throughout Asia. The museum also houses a café and restaurant, the Sun and the Moon, offering simple and sophisticated Japanese meals and a wine and cocktail bar.
This famous Shinto shrine honors the spirits of a Japanese emperor and empress from the early 20th century. The shrine is easily accessible by subway, though many travelers book walking tours for a more engaging experience and greater historical context.
LGBTQ rights are burgeoning in Japan, and there's no better symbol for the progress than Tokyo's Rainbow Pride festival. The event takes place in August and features a range of events, including a Rainbow Picnic, talks about gender identity, a Happy Pride Tea Dance and yoga in the park!
24 Kaikan Shinjuku
The biggest chain of gay bathhouses in Tokyo, 24 Kaikan Shinjuku has a wide range of different rooms and some of the best and cleanest facilities.
Local Tips, Tricks & News
When checking out the city, make sure you have a map with you or directions provided by locals. The streets can be confusing and even cab drivers can get lost. Local city maps may be outdated and can sometimes outline places or routes that don't exist. Your best bet if you get lost? Ask a local.
While Tokyo is an international city, getting into the gay bars and clubs in Shinjuku is a lot easier if you're with a local friend or if you speak Japanese. If you don't speak the language or if you're a foreigner, you could have a difficult time gaining entrance to a lot of the establishments in the gayborhood. If you don't know anyone local, take this as an opportunity to branch out.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation is unusual in Tokyo, so gay travelers are unlikely to face many problems. That said, most people in Japan, gay or straight, don't display very much affection in public.