Dec 25, 2011

Everyday Life in Shinjuku 2-chome: Gay People Aren't Special at All

Last night I watched a TV program about Shinjuku 2-chome, which is the biggest gay village in Tokyo (of course in Japan) like the Castro in San Francisco.

There are so many gay bars where gay people gather together in order to enjoy drinking and to find partners. They've formed to "2-chome" gay community and culture. Recently straight people, who are interested in "2-chome" culture, come to drink at gay bars, which straight people can get in to. (Of course there are many gay bars, of which only gay people are allowed to enter).

One of my colleagues used to get involved in a gay bar in 2-chome, and sometimes he invited me to the bar. He was a nice looking guy, so when he was at the bar, he got a lot of cheers. He was really popular with the people in that bar. I was (and am now) a straight person, but I envied him a little (at heart very much).

Generally speaking Japanese society is relatively tolerant of gay people, (although there is discrimination against gay people.)

We see popular gay entertainers on TV everyday, such as Ai Haruna (はるな愛 ). At first he (she) did an imitation of Aya Matsuura, who used to be a popular girl singer at that time, but now he is much more popular than she is.

There was a long tradition of sodomy, which was strongly related to Samurai  and Buddhist priests, in Japan. There have been almost no religions that prohibited homosexuality. And now Yaoi (やおい) and BL (boys' love), which deal with homosexuality between boys, are important parts of Otaku culture.

I like Fumi Yoshinaga's comic "What did you eat yesterday?" (きのう何食べた?), which is about the everyday life of a middle aged gay couple.

I also love the novel and film "Kiss of the Spider Woman". This is a tragic love of a gay and a straight man. But nothing special happens in the story of "What did you eat yesterday?" She expressed that gay people also lived just a peaceful life and they aren't special at all.


  1. so being gay are common thing in Japan?
    I mean you can clearly state what your sexual preference without others people looking at you weirdly or being discriminated by society?

  2. Coming out as a gay is dangerous in Japan, too. As I wrote, Japanese society is tolerant of gay people, but they think that gay people are different from themselves.

  3. I have one small question: how do they know at bars if you are gay or not, before letting you in (or not). Do the bouncers ask the clients before they enter the bar?

  4. Haha, there are no bouncers in front of the gay bars. If a straight person want to get into the gay bar which only gay people are allowed to enter, he should accept to be asked out. If he denied, he would be kicked out of the bar.

  5. I see. Thanks for the explanation. I was curious about it.