"It's the way we welcome the sun with 35 sun-block. The way the best water, now mostly comes in bottles. It's the way we make time for exercise and like to enjoy reading. That's why SUBWAY offers the varieties of fresh and healthy subs. Because when you are through surfing, you might want to put on a bathing suit. It's the way a sandwich should be." -- printing on the SUBWAY sandwich chain's drinking cups
Pocket Wetty -- tissue brand
Raw Dust Only -- sign above a garbage can
"Foreigners please rebrain from entering" -- gay club advertisement
-- yummy angel sweets
J.O. Pokari Sweat Calpis Nude BM Coffee Fine Aroma Straight Swoosh! -- popular soft drinks
Chicken Tetsuya Jelly Topping Shakes Pepper Burger with Potato Sauce -- items on the menu at McDonalds
-- chewy fruit Dew-Dews
"OK! No! Freaks of Gogo Spectators" -- website title
She Her Her (Super Emission) -- chewing gum
"Sodom. Enjoy Your Lifestyle." -- slogan on a child's fanny pack
Japan's gay and lesbian sub-cultures are ancient and sophisticated. There are references to homosexual relationships in 11th century diaries and even in an amusing turn of events for the womanizing protagonist of The Tale of Genji, one of the world's earliest novels. Traditions of same-sex love and cults of youthful male beauty flourished in later centuries, and male prostitution was broadly available throughout the country. There are even public parks which have been cruising spots for hundreds of years and guidebooks devoted to homosexual pleasures published in the 1760's!
While uniquely fascinating, and offering a staggering variety of sexual outlets, modern Japan's gay scene can also be frustrating, discriminatory and oppressed. Gay liberation and activism have only recently emerged from the shadows, urged into the spotlight by AIDS and a young generation of homosexuals dissatisfied with widespread ignorance and stereotypes. In a country where 98% of the population gets married, many homosexuals and bisexuals express their same-sex desires only within the anonymity offered by maze-like night life districts, the lingering wisps of Edo's incense-perfumed ukiyo (floating world). Most recently, some young gays and lesbians have become decidedly more visible (there is even a guidebook for the general public, called "Gift of Gay", which details gay and lesbian influences in popular culture and history) participating in gay pride events and declaring a holiday on April 4, midway between Girl's Day and Boy's Day, wittily named "New Half Day".
Two popular stereotypes exist about Japan. First, that it is prohibitively expensive (great values for travelers do exist and it's even possible to have a fabulous budget vacation here); and secondly, that Japan is an unfriendly place for foreigners. In fact, Japan is inhospitable to other Japanese who step out of place. Shinjuku Ni-Chome, a small sub-district of downtown Tokyo, houses well over 200 gay and lesbian bars crammed into a 5-block area. Each bar may only have room to seat a dozen customers, and as a result, The Peppermint Bar will only welcome Peppermint Boys and their fans (whatever that happens to be) and other visitors, Japanese or not, will be given a decisively cold shoulder if they occupy precious space. Locate venues that feature your "type" and you will be welcomed into a cozy and secluded world where other patrons are pre-matched to your tastes. This is simply the result of hundreds of years of specialization within the shadow world and an economic reality of limited space and prohibitive rents.
You may hear the term gai-sen which connotes a Japanese who prefers foreigners (a potato queen). Many such terms exist within Japan's small social tribes, including debu-sen (fat guy chaser) and fuke-sen (old man lover).
Whatever type you are, you'll find you have a fan here. Gay Japanese don’t waste time playing mind games, money games, or twiddling their thumbs in the closet. Refreshingly, once they know what they like they just go for it! No dilemmas, no shame. How civilized.
At least six regular gay monthly magazines exist in Japan, and they feature the broadest range of Asian gay "types" in the world. Whether you fancy portly businessmen in suits, manly workmen with crewcuts and beards, graying Grandfathers, lithe teen sportsmen, or bound and gagged fetishists, you'll find publications and pillow books dedicated to each. The "magazines" are actually thick, journal-sized soft cover books and include a spectrum of gay content including feature articles, manga (cartoon serials), hidden camera photos in showers and bathrooms, personal ads, erotic stories and advertisements. Most of the models are also featured in videos for sale in the advertising section. Some straight sports clubs make a good deal of money by selling amateur erotic videos of their freshmen members being initiated at nude drinking parties. Amusingly, you may find a packet of tissue paper included in your bag when you purchase books from gay shops, a refreshingly candid freebie. Some of the most popular publications are listed below.
The trendiest Japanese gay publication, appealing to younger gays, with a broad range of model types and sexual flavors. Very popular.
Barazoku (The Rose Tribe)
No longer bring published. This quintessential and often imitated Japanese gay magazine had one of the longest runs of a Japanese gay publication. The publisher, often quoted as saying he was not gay, admitted to Utopia that, late in his life, he’s not quite sure that’s true.
Features bear-types, beards, mustaches, light S/M and chubby hunks.
Transvestite and transgender magazine.
Stout and bellied businessmen and Daddies.
Hunky, middle-aged men subjected to SM, ropes, candles, toys, rough trade, leather, piercing, fisting, bondage, body fluids, fundoshi, and crew cuts.
Girth and mirth, large and portly mature men, all the way up to Sumo-sized. Some models overlap with G-men and Sabu. But, oh, those big-bellied businessmen are the superstars here.
Middle-aged and mature, chubby, bearded, business executives and Daddies.
OCCUR (Japan Association for the Lesbian and Gay Movement
Ishikawa-Building 2nd Floor, 6-12-11 Honcho Nakano, Tokyo 164 Japan, (813) 3383-5556, FAX 3229-7880, email. Grassroots gay activist organization and sponsor of the Tokyo Gay and Lesbian Film/Video Festival.
They provide an affirming, open, safe zone for LGBTQ individuals and allies in Japan; updates about events in various areas of Japan; as well as maintaining online platforms to connect the community, share experiences and foster mutual learning. They also provides peer support and references to members.
2F, Sereno Nishishinbashi, 2-11-14, Nishishinbashi, Minato-ku, +81-3-3500-4819, FAX +81-3-3500-4856, email. Gay-owned Magnet Tours is the first tour operator in Japan to focus specifically on LGBT travelers. Magnet Tours opened its doors in 2009. The offer expert advice and planning for gay vacations to Japan.
Amagasaki Sauna New Plaza UTOPIAN VERIFIED JUL 2011
Nearby Hanshin Amagasaki Station. Not gay, but there are many gay men, especially
Beppu -- area code (81-977)
Beppu is a resort city that is famous for its many onsen (hot spring baths) along with its Beppu Hihokan museum of sex. Population is about 150,000 million (that's about 6,000 Utopians).
1-14 Ekimaehonmachi, Beppu-city Oita Japan, 738-338, email. A small bar, but the owner, Takeshi, is very friendly and knows many spots in the city. The drinks are not too expensive and the people who go here are also nice. A warm welcome for Utopians here.
FUKUOKA -- area code (81-92)
Population is about 1.4 million (that's over 55,000 Utopians).
2/F Seijo Bld, 5-5-15 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku (see map), 092-481-6564. It is inside an office building. No sign on the exterior of the building, but there is a sign on the door. Clean place. There are lockers, a shower, toilet, some small lockable cabins, and mix rooms. There is a sign "GS" on the door.
Hakata-Anzuya UTOPIAN VERIFIED JAN 2011
5-17-14 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku, 092-412-3925. Around the corner from Nakanaka Club. A red light box outside the solid door entrance. Book/video store (free admission) and seperate hattenba cubicles with Net access.
2-6-1 8/F Bashaku, Kokurakita-ku. 093-531-5517.
Jump UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013
2/F 4-15-3 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku, 092-413-5227. Leaving Hakata JR Station walk south then west following the main street. You will pass Hakata City Hotel on your right. When you pass Royal Host restaurant on your left, start looking down the small streets on your left. About the 3rd street you will see a small lighted sign for Jump and Arrow. It's a very small, dark hattenba with black vinyl mats and not much else. There are no pillows or blankets and the manager kicks everyone out at 5am, so don't go there expecting to sleep. The staff is very friendly and speak limited English. Packed with hot, young guys on Fri and Sat nights.
2845-11 Kurohama, +81-80-5464-9043, email. Gay-owned. When you feel tension in your muscles, if you want some luxury time, a Japanese masseur will visit you for special aromatic touch. Close your eyes, relax, and feel the high quality of the massage technique. Available 24 hours. You can choose from aromatic full body massage, sports massage, head massage, salt body cleansing, foot cream massage, head and body wash, flower bath, etc.
HIROSHIMA -- area code (81-82)
Not much remains of the horror of the first atomic bombing. The small park where Hiroshima's iconic domed ruin stands, a World Heritage Site, seems forlorn and diminished in the peaceful green setting of the modern city. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is beautifully and effectively laid out, presenting first the history of the war and Japan's attempt to conquer Asia; followed by a collection of artifacts twisted, burned or deformed by the explosion. Then, as on that sunny morning and without warning, you turn a corner and face the ravaged humanity. Outside, an understated shrine, shaped like the canvas top of a covered wagon, barely shelters a box containing the names of the city dead -- a list, piled on other lists throughout history, of mankind's pitiless self-destruction.
Population is over 1.1 million (that's about 40,000 Utopians).
Click here for Hiroshima hotels and accommodations.
2-10 Showa-cho, Fukuyama.
Naka-ku is very big and there are many streets. At the station, take the trolly and get off at Kanayama-cho. The next street on your left should be Yagembori-dori. That's the starting point for directions to these bars.
9th street on the left from Yagembori-dori. A bar for older men.
Walk down Yagembori-dori and count 4 streets on the left side. Take the 5th street. D&M will be on the left side, on 2/F. Look for the sign. Japanese snack-style bar. Master, Daisuke, is very friendly. Very nice bar. They also have a huge collection of English karaoke songs. First drink includes a snack with it. Foreigners are welcome. Type: 30-40yo.
On Yagembori-dori, on the left side when walking from Kanayamacho. Look for a red sign with a big N on it. Nino-Kin is on 5/F. Japanese snack-style bar. Master, Yasue, is friendly. First drink includes a snack with it. Foreigners are welcome. Staff speaks a little English. Type: 20-30yo.
Night Lounge TE-II
5-3 Nagarekawa, Naka-ku. Walk down Yagembori-dori and count 8 streets on the right side. The next lane is very small but the bar is there. Look for the sign with a palm tree. Master, Tetsu, is very friendly. Foreigners are welcome. Type: 30-40yo.
Just around the corner from D&M. When walking down Yagembori-dori from Kanayamacho, take the 4th street on the left (where the D&M bar is), then turn left, and look on the right side for the sign. A very nice bar where a little English is spoken. Age here is 20-30yo.
Just before TE-II, on Yagembori-dori. A very small bar for 30-40yo.
Walk down Yagembori-dori and count 10 streets on the right side. Take the 11th street. USED will be on the right side on 2/F. Look for the sign. Japanese snack-style bar. The master is very friendly. Very small bar but eye contact is easy because of the form of the bar (half-circle). First drink includes a snack with it. Foreigners are welcome. Type: 30-40yo.
13-14-101 7-Chome, Minamikannon, Nishi-ku.
(near JR Hiroshima Station), 263-7095. A small cinema with gay movies down the street near the first park/waterway. Go out from the station and get on the trolly. Get off when it turns half left. Look for a used camera store on the left corner when facing away from the station. Pass the camera store and turn down the first right small street. Walk a half block, it's on the left.
North part of the Peace Memorial Park at the Peace Clock Tower (near Aioi Bridge, between Honkawa river and Motoyasukawa river). This meeting place for gay people is usually visited from the time the sun goes down till around 11:30pm, from the beginning of April till the end of October every year, if it`s not too cold. UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAR 2011
Shintenji, 243-5935. Almost any cab driver will know where this famous Hiroshima specialty restaurant is located and expect lines at the door. What's all the fuss? Okonomiyaki, a sort of vegetable pancake grilled right at your teppan table or counter grill, is a delicious, popular and inexpensive Kansai area dish. But Hiroshima is famous for its mountainous version and this is the place to grab an icy mug of beer and dig in. Try to sit at the counter so you may enjoy the free entertainment as your dinner is assembled from up to a dozen fresh ingredients. First select your "main ingredient" such as bacon, shrimp, squid or even strips of rice mochi. Next, the chef will pour and shape paper-thin crepes the size of a large dinner plate. Onto this go shredded cabbage, tempura cracklings, and bean sprouts. Shake on a bit of seasoning, add the main ingredient, and then flip the crepe over to cook the meat and steam the veggies. On another section of the grill, noodles (soba or udon) are sizzling with a little oil and an egg before being dropped on top of the already bulging crepe. Final embelishments are added: scallions, bonito (dried fish shavings), sweet and dark sauce, and bits of nori (dried seaweed).
Kyobashi-cho, Minami-ku, 263-7095.
6-2 Hiraga Bld, Tanaka, Naka-ku.
Kagoshima -- area code (81-99)
Population is over a half million (that's about 20,000 Utopians).
099-226-6410. Behind the Richmond Hotel in Shinichi.
099-223-0598. Located in a small side street, opposite the entrance to the Washington Hotel in the Shinichi area.
17 Gionnosu, 248-1268.
Kiraku-kaikan UTOPIAN VERIFIED JAN 2013
8-12 Ogawa-cho (two blocks from the railroad station), 226-8274. Small sauna. Good place to spend the night (or day). Crowd is mostly mature. Foreigners are welcome and sought after.
Comments from Utopians:
"A tiny (cramped) place of dubious cleanliness. One shower, two large play rooms, and TV room. Sauna not working on my visit, and the place is very smoky. Visited mid-week, only one other customer. Best avoided." -- bear4unz, Jan 10, 2013
Population is over 1 million (that's about 40,000 Utopians).
Very friendly, cozy and small. The other patrons are shy at first, but after a few drinks, and a karaoke song or two, you will be an old friend. The bar Master doesn't speak much English, but he will find someone who does.
Kokura-ku. Their webpage says it welcomes all types, no age discrimination. The receptionist (very hot) will make an effort to speak to you in English. It helps if you speak some Japanese. Small and a little old, but clean. One room to sleep, two to play, one to socialize while watching gay videos, one smoking lounge with Japanese TV, and a small bar. A huge collection of gay magazines in Japanese (if you don't understand, the pictures will be enough). Bath, showers, sauna.
Population is about 700,000 (that's about 28,000 Utopians).
Greece UTOPIAN VERIFIED MAR 2011
1-8-5 Simo-dori (in Gallery Shinshigay Sun Rd, panneauSUNTOTY's other side Shimomachidori). The boss, Takanori, trys to put you at ease. Very lttle English spoken, but it is very welcoming. Evening karaoke.
Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan and the repository for its traditional arts, spiritual practices, cuisine and urban way of life. It may seem positively sleepy when compared with the light speed pace of Tokyo, but somehow Kyoto manages to retain a small town feeling, even though it's a teeming city of millions. Many Kyoto gays go to nearby Osaka to socialize, so as not to be spotted wandering in Kyoto's quaint cherry and willow-lined nightlife area. Kyoto, and nearby Nara, are both magical, mystical and mesmerizing treasure vaults of cultural wonders and quiet secrets.
Most of Kyoto's major attractions are on three easy bus routes (with English signage and speaker announcements) that depart just outside the main north exit of Kyoto Station. Buy a discount pass from the ticket office there to use these special buses all day. Kyoto also has an excellent subway. North Kyoto must-sees include the Golden Pavilion (northwest), the Silver Pavilion (northeast), and the zen garden compounds of Daitoku-ji (north central). Dozens of additional major temples and shrines are often seen to best effect in specific seasons, so consult your guidebooks for the ideal itinerary on your planned dates. For a slice of Kyoto daily life, don't miss the 400-year-old shopping avenue, Nishiki-Koji Dori, in the center of the city. If you are lucky enough to be in Kyoto during cherry blossom season, head to the hillside parks east of the river and join the hanami (flower-viewing) throngs.
The population of Kyoto about 1.5 million (that's about 60,000 Utopians).
3/F Kobayashi Kaikan, Kiyamachi Dori, Shijo, 256-0258. Go north on Kiyamachi 50m. Take the first left (after the building called Imagium). Apple will be on your right just over the small bridge. Young, muscle, short hair, beards, foreigners and Japanese.
2/F Ito Bld., Kiyamachi Shijo Agaru, 213-0545. Mid 25-45yo.
2/F Itoh Bld, Shijo-Kiyamachi, Agaru (50m down Kiyamachi St), 251-6792.
Japanese Oil Massage
Shinagawa, 080-6751-9386, email. Relax with a rubdown after a hard day's work. Oil massage, foot and hand massage from a muscular masseur. Outcall only, 4pm-midnight.
Aoi Koen, the small triangular park in the north of the city, at the point where the Kamo River splits into two branches. Also along the banks of the river nearby. A well-known cruise spot for hundreds of years! Afternoon and evenings.
Kyoto Gosho, the old Imperial Palace park grounds, just west of the intersection of Kawaramachi and Marutamachi, on the south side of the garden.
Kyoto Tower Hotel
Located near the main (north) exit of Kyoto Station. When exiting the station, look for the semi-circular building to the right on the east corner of the square. Walk to this corner, then go straight ahead, crossing the road in front of you. Sauna Verde is about two thirds of the way down the next block on the right. It's in a tall, narrow building, and the name is displayed in English on a vertical neon sign outside the building. Lifts are to the right and left of the street entrance. Check-in is on 7/F. Select a shoe locker, lock your shoes inside and present your key to the desk. You're given a corresponding locker key when you pay. The bathing area and sauna are on the floor above and there is a lounge on the floor below. Below that is a semi-darkened room with bunks. Action is discreet as the place is not exclusively gay.
5/F Redeiku Bld, Sanjo Dori and Kawaramachi (northwest side), 212-9810.
MATSUYAMA (Ehime Prefecture) -- area code (81-89)
Population is a half million (that's 20,000 Utopians).
5-7-22 Tokiwa, Imabari.
8-1 Fukuin-cho, 970-8878.
5-7-22 Daishinden, Imabari, 831-7831).
8-1 Suwa-sakae, Yokkaichi.
678 Funae-cho, Matsusaka, 0598-51-0711.
MIYAZAKI -- area code (81-98)
Population is 300,000 (that's about 12,000 Utopians).
NAGASAKI -- area code (81-95)
Population is over a half million (that's 20,000 Utopians).
8-29 Hachino Nigiukiu, Chikugo-Machi, 827-7577. Easy to find - several blocks from JR rail station. Gaijin (foreigners) are welcome. A bit cold during the winter months, but the men will keep you warm.
Located near Hamaguchi-machi tram station. Cruising spot well stocked with free condoms and lube.
NAGOYA (Aichi Prefecture) -- area code (81-52)
Nagoya is a rather mundane, modern city, although it is home to a picturesque Shogun's castle as well as one of Japan's most sacred Shinto shrines, Tatsuta, situated in a dense, almost primeval forest grove in the middle of the modern city.
The population is 2.2 million (that's about 90,000 Utopians).
Take the train to Inuyama. Exit the station to the roadside stop for bus #2 (you will take bus #1 when you return). This "Disneyland of architecture" has rescued and restored more than 60 historical buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Japan opened itself to the world, and situated them in a fantasy retro landscape of steam locomotives, wooded lakes and clomping Clydesdale horses. Star among the treasures is the front fountain and lobby of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterwork, the Tokyo Imperial Hotel, lost in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Artisans have duplicated every detail, using both original surviving pieces and recreated ones from matching materials, including furniture and lamps! You can even have tea in the lobby restaurant.
From Inuyama Station, take the local train towards Komaki and get off at the Tagata Jinja Mae Station. Exit the station, turn left and walk to the first intersection. Cross the street, turn left and walk about about four blocks. This Shinto shrine glorifying the erect penis houses a collection of phallic carvings and objects that are the center of attraction during the annual Hounen Matsuri fertility festival each Mar 15. If you are lucky enough to visit during the festival itself, you will see a giant member, with its foreskin bunched up behind a ruddy swollen head, carved from the trunk of a cyprus tree. Weighing almost a ton, it takes a team of worshippers to carry it from a nearby hillside shrine to Tagata. Buy a wooden votive tablet etched with a manga (cartoon) dick and leave your wishes on it for good fortune. Nearby Ogata Jinja houses objects representing the female anatomy.
1-7-15 Sakae Itchome, Naka-ku (near the train station), 201-4740. 20-40yo.
265-0904, 090-3449-3014. Muscle, short hair, and older brother types. Closed Thu.
Central Sakae (see map on their website), 090-4194-9722, email. The closest major intersection is Hirokoji-dori and Otsu-dori. Just minutes walk from the Citibank Sakae, the LOFT, and Maruzen. A non-profit, monthly gay and lesbian dance party on the 2nd Sat of every month in central Nagoya. Shows, not only fabulous drag queens, but various performances by men and women. Hot house music from 10pm-5am (or later). Inexpensive netry includes two drinks.
2-1 Sakurahonmachi Minami-ku, email. Gay-managed Sweden massage for men. The shop is very small, but it's a comfortable and peaceful place. They also offer outcall massage service at your place. Utopia Member Discount
Hirokoji-Dori, 541-1919. Hirokoji-Dori is one of the main streets in Nagoya. Start from the end at the Nagoya main station and walk towards Naka-ku (central district) on the right side of the street. First, locate the traffic light intersection of Hirokoji-Dori and Egawa St (a wide street perpendicular to Hirokoji-Dori and with a flyover bridge). Now, turn around and walk back to the 2nd traffic light before the Hirokoji-Dori and Egawa intersection and turn left into the small street. Then, turn left again at the 2nd intersection you come to. Immediately on your left you can see a small building with colorful and bright ad boards. Next to this small building you see a short height concrete wall painted in yellow and next to it is an entrance with a metal gate also painted in yellow and Pancrace written on it. The glass door will open automatically as you approach. A hattenba (cruising place) with three floors of facilities include shower, TV room, dark areas, private rooms, resting area with magazines and some gym equipment. There's also a 'secret' penthouse with tatami mats. Young crowd (no entry over 40yo, ID check at the door).
Population is 300,000 (that's 12,000 Utopians).
4/F 2-17-44 Makishi (near Kokusai Dori), +81-98-867-9952. In the heart of Naha. Sauna, bath, video rooms, and dark room. Non-English speaking staff. Standard sauna etiquette (shoe locker upon entrance, purchase ticket at machine, collect towels/robe from attendant). Mostly local Okinawans from 20's-40's.
Population is 400,000 (that's about 90,000 Utopians).
8-35 Honmachi, Yamato-takada.
NARITA (Chiba Prefecture) -- area code (81-476)
Population is 120,000 (that's about 5,000 Utopians).
3/F Ha-chin Bld, 10-2 Kokubun-cho Nichome (near Smile Hotel on the Ichiban-cho gallery), 02-2211-1512. On G/F is a Chinese restaurant. A small, nice gay bar with good cocktails and some home made dishes. The owner speaks a little English and is very friendly.
046-778-9288, email. Gay-owned. Various types of massage are offered: shiatsu, Swedish massage, oil massage, muscle relaxing massage, foot massage, etc. In-home, office, or hotel. Gay-owned. Utopia Member Discount