Jennifer is a lesbian from Vancouver, exploring the world and blogging about her travel adventures around the globe with her wife Laura, as well as LGBTQ and gluten-free travels on her blog “The Rainbow Route“. We’re delighted to share Jennifer’s tips and story about her and Laura’s favourite place to visit as lesbians: Tokyo, Japan.
The world is becoming more tolerant towards LGBTQ people, especially the LGBTQ tourist. Individual beliefs and acceptance of the LGBTQ community are progressing in a positive direction. Politics has a long way to go to catch up with these progressive attitudes, but I think we will see a big shift worldwide in the next generation.
While attitudes might be shifting, my wife – Laura – and I still travel with caution. We research not only a country’s laws before heading to a destination, but also the current cultural climate. When booking accommodation in advance, I always say, “My wife and I…” so that we can avoid discrimination before arriving (no one has ever turned us down as guests, though some hosts have misunderstood the message).
Once we arrive at a destination, however, we are quite closeted. There are a lot of inspirational lesbian travellers out there who are being more public and showing that the world isn’t so bad, and I have a ton of respect for these people. It’s not easy putting yourself into a vulnerable situation.
Our favourite place to visit as lesbian travellers is easily Tokyo. Homosexuality is legal in Japan, so it’s already a country we feel comfortable supporting with our tourist dollars. Since public displays of affection don’t happen there regardless of orientation, we don’t feel like we are hiding and that takes a lot of pressure off.
On top of that, there is a huge LGBTQ community. There are numerous gay and lesbian bars – and even more to discover if you get to know some locals. Finding gay bars around the world is relatively easy as compared with finding lesbian bars, so it is such a treat to have a choice – even if ladies only nights are restricted to certain days of the week.
The most well-known lesbian bar in Tokyo is Bar Goldfinger and once a month they hold an all-night lesbian party. Laura and I can hardly stay up past 10PM, so we didn’t party all night, but we did go to the bar beforehand. Despite being shy introverts, we were welcomed before we even entered the bar. Coming from Vancouver where it’s difficult to meet new people, we were pleasantly surprised that people approached us and wanted to have a conversation with us. The karaoke and open bar – with cover charge – certainly helped to create a fun and light atmosphere.
Laura and I are not drinkers or partiers, but we would go back to Tokyo just for the bar scene. There is so much opportunity there to make new friends and really delve into the LGBTQ scene. Simply head to the LGBTQ neighbourhood, 2-chome/ni-chome, with a couple of bars in mind and see where the evening takes you.
Follow Jennifer’s and Laura’s travel adventures at “The Rainbow Route”: