Is Japan LGBTQIA+ friendly?

LGBTQIA+ travellers are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (a more inclusive LGBT initialism), plus queer or questioning, intersex or asexual individuals, as well as those who identify beyond these commonly used sexuality and gender expressions. Specific situations and issues may present themselves to travellers who identify with one or more of these terms when visiting Japan.

LGBTQIA+ travellers are unlikely to encounter violence, outright hostility or overt discrimination in Japan. However, conservative values about LGBTQIA+ sexuality and non-binary gender expression are common, particularly outside large cities. Sex that takes place between consenting adults of the same gender is legal, though same-sex marriage is not. Some districts (such as Tokyo) legally recognise same-sex partnerships. Outside of certain youth-oriented entertainment & and queer neighbourhoods, LGBTQIA+ folks remain somewhat invisible in Japan.

It’s important to keep in mind that public displays of affection are not common in Japan, regardless of sex, gender presentation or sexual orientation.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.

LGBTQIA+ culture in Tokyo

Man on street in Tokyo with arms outstretched, Japan

Tokyo has the best-established and most diverse LGBTQIA+ scene in all of Japan.

The former red light district of Shinjuku Ni-chome (nicho for short) is now an established LGBTQIA+ neighbourhood. But while the bar and sauna options are plentiful if you're a cisgender gay man, there are only a handful of bars that cater to other identities and orientations. However, many of these establishments are welcoming of all LGBTQIA+ people (plus allies), so this neighbourhood is a great place to head out for a meal, a drink, a dance and a sense of community.

LGBTQIA+ culture in Osaka

Bridge or river in Osaka at night, Japan

Like Tokyo, Osaka has an established LGBTQIA+ neighbourhood. As with Shinjuku Ni-chome in Tokyo, the vast majority of offerings in Osaka's Doyamacho district are aimed at cisgender gay men. But that doesn't mean other LGBTQIA+ people (and their straight friends) can't get in on the fun. While some of the fancier bars are open only to local men, plenty of the more casual spaces are open to all people of all nationalities sexual orientations and genders.

Solo travel and room sharing

If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid group tour in Japan, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travellers who do not wish to share a room.

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