Gay Tokyo: travel guide to Tokyo’s best gay bars, clubs and hotels

Stefan Arestis

Japan is one of the leaders of gay rights in AsiaSurprising isn't it? Japanese society is so regimented, conservative, with strict social norms and little room for acceptance for anything different.

Despite this, Japan is one of the few countries in Asia which has truly started to accept and protect its LGBTQ community to the point where it's opened the door to gay civil unions, particularly some of the District Courts of Tokyo.

Tokyo ranks as one of our favourite destinations ever. It's clean, extremely safe, the people so impecible with their manners, foodgasms galore to be had, and whilst it's quite a pricey place, you definitely get value for money here. Also, Tokyo is famous for having over 300 gay bars all congregated together in Shinjuku's Ni-Chōme district! We've visited Tokyo several times and have put together our LGBTQ travel guide to Japan's capital city based on our first-hand experience

Stay connected in Japan

Before heading off, don't forget to pre-order your pocket WiFi so you can stay online throughout your trip in Japan. The pocket WiFi will save you a lot of money on roaming fees. For more info, check out our comprehensive guide to renting pocket WiFi in Japan.

How safe is Tokyo for gay travellers?

Short answer, extremely safe! Whether you're straight or gay, Japan is one of the safest places on the planet. Crime is low, people are extremely respectful, particularly towards foreigners visiting. At no stage did we ever feel unsafe in Tokyo.

As a gay couple travelling in Tokyo, we repeat, we felt just as safe. Whilst Japanese society is very conservative towards LGBTQ rights, they are so respectful towards foreigners whether straight or gay. Getting a double bed was never an issue in any of the places we stayed in Tokyo, whether a local guesthouse or a hotel.

One thing we guarantee, Tokyo is one super fascinating destination you will fall in love with and will want to return to.

Tokyo safe for gay travellers
Roaming the streets of Tokyo with our dazzling new outfits

The gay neighbourhood of Tokyo

The gay area of Tokyo is mainly congregated in Shinjuku's Ni-chōme (Area 2) where all the action happens. Shinjuku is a major transport, located in Central Tokyo, towards the west of the famous Imperial Palace. The station itself is like a mini-city, with over 200 exits, serving over 3 million people daily, making it the world's busiest station.

Shinjuku is so big that it's directly connected to 5 other nearby stations, so definitely plan ahead where you're heading exactly before coming here, otherwise you'll get completely lost. We advise downloading the Tokyo subway map on your smartphone or view it here.

Ni-Chōme is a small area in Shinjuku, forming the hub of the gay scene. The 2 closest metro stations to the Ni-Chōme gay scene are:

  • Shinjuku-Sanchome: served by 3 lines: the Marunouchi, Fukutoshin and Toei Shinjuku lines
  • Shinjuku-Gyoenmae: served by the Marunouchi Line only.

Getting around Tokyo

The metro system in Tokyo is very easy to use and everything is displayed in English. However, it gets very busy! To avoid the queues at the ticket machines and save money, pre-order a Tokyo metro pass which will give you unlimited access to all Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines. Hotel delivery is included.

Seby getting around in Tokyo
Seby negotiating the complicated network of Tokyo's metro system

Gay hotels in Tokyo

Over the years, we've visited Tokyo several times together and stayed in quite a few places. These are our favourite gay friendly options both in Shinjuku and around below. For a more in-depth guide, be sure to check out our 10 best gay hotels in Tokyo.

01

The Capitol Hotel Tokyu

The Capitol Hotel Tokyu is a luxurious place for gay travellers to stay with amazing views.

Why we love it


  • Incredible city views
  • Direct metro access
  • Yummy Japanese breakfast
  • Fully equipped gym

This is our favourite gay friendly hotel to stay in Tokyo. We loved the modern architecture of the hotel, a perfect blend of western and Japanese influences.

The rooms are innovatively designed in open space to give you a soothing experience, with gorgeous views and a rain shower to die for.

There's also a lovely spa which offers massages and beauty treatments.

The Capitol has three different on-site restaurants serving delicious food, as well as a club lounge for drinks with a view. In the basement of the hotel, you can access three different metro lines, which makes getting around the city a breeze.

We loved the well equipped gym for keeping fit and a hot tub to relax in after. Another highlight is the traditional, and delicious, Japanese style breakfast served every morning.

02

The Park Hyatt

The Park Hyatt in Tokyo is famous, luxurious and a great place for gay travellers to stay.

Why we love it


  • Stunning views throughout
  • Three delicious restaurants
  • Indoor swimming pool and spa
  • In the heart of Shinjuku

For elegance and style in the heart of Shinjuku, we recommend the gay frienldy Park Hyatt which is also very close to the Ni-Chōme gay bars: 10 minutes by taxi or a 20 minute walk.

As well as being plush, classy and super trendy, this was also the location for the Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson Lost In Translation film, particularly The New York Bar on the 52nd floor.

The views across the city from here are unreal!

The rooms at the Park Hyatt are very spacious and feature Hokkaido wood panelling plus Egyptian cotton sheets. If you can drag yourself out from your room (we couldn't) there's an indoor pool (which also has incredible views) and a spa with lots of pampering services available.

Foodies will love the Park Hyatt as it has three different restaurants; the New York Grill, Kozue (serving Japanese cuisine) and Girandole. There's also two different bars, a lounge, patisserie AND a delicatessan!

03

The Hyatt Regency

Gay travel to Tokyo - the Hyatt Regency is a luxurious spot to stay.

Why we love it


  • Affordable luxury
  • Close to Shinjuku gay bars
  • Seven delicious restaurants
  • Penthouse swimming pool and wellness

The Hyatt Regency is a more affordable gay hotel in Shinjuku but still luxurious with a blow-your-mind entrance that's popular with wedding receptions and photoshoots.

Located just 5-10 minutes by taxi or 20 minutes walk to the gay bars of Shinjuku, you'll be perfectly situated if you want to party till you drop! The club lounge is the perfect spot for a light bite and a few drinks before hitting the gay bars!

The pool, jacuzzi and gym are located high up so you can work out with a beautiful view. We particularly loved the penthouse wellness sanctuary where you can swim under a skylight roof.

There are no fewer than seven restaurants in the hotel, including authentic French cuisine at Cuisine Michel Troisgros, sushi at Miyako and traditional Chinese dishes at Jade Garden.

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.

04

Imano Hostel

Imano Hostel in Tokyo has a great gay friendly vibe and is perfect for budget travellers.

Why we love it


  • Close to Shinjuku gay area
  • Clean and comfy budget option
  • Cool on-site cafe and bar
  • Regular fun events

Imano Hostel is an excellent gay friendly budget option if you don't mind sleeping in dorm beds. They have curtains to close off your area, which makes them more like cubicles than an actual dorm.

It's located minutes walking distance from the gay bars as well as the Shinjuku-sanchome metro.

Everything is very clean and the hostel provides things like shower amenities, locker storage and slippers.

There are mixed and single-gender dorms available, as well as family rooms or traditional Japanese-style rooms. The communal relaxation areas are great here, indeed the whole place has a very fun vibe and regular social activities are organised by the friendly staff. The on-site cafe and bar is also a great place to chill out, socialise or have a snack.

Gay bars in Tokyo

Shinjuku's Ni-Chōme is famous for having the world's highest concentration of gay bars with over 300 crammed together into unremarkable blocks. We've listed below our favourite gay bars in Tokyo.

Discover the gay nightlife of London on a tour of Soho best bars and clubs

Discover Tokyo's gay nightlife with a guide

Tokyo's gay scene be quite overwhelming, so it might pay to have a private gay guide to show you around.

We've partnered with an excellent gay local tour company to offer private evening tours of the gay scene. The tour cost 20,000 yen ($200) per person, lasts for 3 hours and includes dinner and 1 drink in 1 of the gay bars during the tour. Click below to check availability and receive an exclusive 5% discount.

Fill out this form to check availability for your gay nightlife tour of Tokyo and to claim your 5% discount.

Arty Farty

One of the most popular gay bars of Tokyo, attracting an after-work crowd and people coming for pre-drinks before heading to sister club Annex next door (if you get your hand stamped here then you can also go to Annex for no extra cost). It attracts a fun crowd which is an even mix of foreigners and locals. There's a dance floor and the place gets packed on the weekends. With all the smoke and sweaty bodies this is also a good spot to hook up! Arty Farty is open everyday till 1am and is located at No.33 Kyutei Bld. 2F, Shinjuku-ku.

Campy! Bar

An uber-cool, colourful and welcoming bar, run by celebrity cross-dresser called “Bourbonne”. The staff are all dolled up in drag, which adds to the fun atmosphere. It also has really funny shows taking place throughout the evening. Campy! is welcoming to all people, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, so you can bring your straight friends along as well. It's the ideal spot to start your night, have a few drinks and laughs then continue to explore Tokyo's gay scene. Campy! is open every day till midnight and is located at 2-13-10 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku.

AiiRO Cafe Bar

AiiRO is a popular gay bar for drinks any day of the week that's open till late. It is easily identifiable by the large “Torri” (Japanese Shrine) outside and the patrons that spill out onto the street because it gets so full! Look out for their 1,000 yen ($9) Beer Blast all-you-can-drink happy ‘hour', daily between 6-9pm. They have drag queens and GoGo boy performers on the weekends, plus everyone you meet is just so friendly, whether it's the staff or other visitors. AiiRO is open every day until 2am and on weekends until 5am. It's located at 2-18-1 Shinjuku 7th Tenka Building 1F, Shinjuku.

Alamas Cafe

The same guys from AiiRO Cafe are also behind this spot, which is more of a gay restaurant/cafe/bar mix but still totally fun! There's a DJ booth so you can listen to some tunes, perhaps while fortifying yourself for a big night of partying with some delicious green curry, tom yung goong, fried chicken or waffles. There are also plenty of yummy alcoholic drinks available, so this is a wonderful way to begin your evening in a truly inclusive open-air cafe. Alamas is open every day from 6pm 'til 2am (or 5am on weekends) and is located at 2-12-1 Shinjuku Garnet Building 1F.

Leo Lounge

Leo Lounge is a large popular bear bar, which welcomes everyone. We loved the friendly atmosphere here, the cute staff are happy to tell you about other places to visit. As well as delicious cocktails there are board games you can play and even a fortune-telling hall with gay fortune-tellers! We didn't need them to tell us we would come back many times. It's also a fun place for belting out some karaoke and they serve light meals on most nights. Leo Lounge is open every day (except Tuesdays) until 5am and is located at 2-14-16 Shinjuku Taraq Building 2F, Shinjuku.

FTM Bois Bar

A free atmosphere, cute trans guys, free karaoke, free popcorn…what's not to love? FTM Bois is an excellent event for the transexual community run by FTM cutie – Mizuki. The small cover charge also covers the cost of your first two drinks, at this fun event which takes place in the LGBT bar Gold Finger. Gold Finger also hosts women-only nights (Saturdays) and is open for all LGBT community members the rest of the time. FTM Bois is held on Mondays and every third Sunday of the month, from 6pm until 2am at 2-12-11 Shinjuku Hayashi Building 1F, Shinjuku.

Usagi Bar

Usagi is an example of one of the many tiny gay bars of Tokyo. From the outside, it looks like you're visiting your friend's apartment. You open the door and enter into a warm, friendly atmosphere, which is a gay bar, complete with karaoke! It is centred around the super charismatic barman, Mr Take-san, who is also the owner. His hilarious nickname in Japanese gay slang is mama-san! It's a very local crowd here, where everyone knows everyone. They sometimes bring home-cooked food to share around! Usagi Bar is open daily until around midnight and is located on the 4th floor at Shinjuku 2-10-2, Ebana Bldg 4F.

Gay boys in Tokyo at Usagi gay bar in Shinjuku
Hanging out with the awesome gay lads of Usagi bar

Gay clubs in Tokyo

We've set out below the main gay clubs in Tokyo we enjoyed the most, located in Shinjuku. For more up to date information about the latest gay parties taking place in Tokyo including Circuit-like events, we recommend checking the listings on DailyXtraTravel.

The Annex

One of the most popular gay clubs of Tokyo, owned by the same guys behind Arty Farty. It attracts a young crowd in their 20s and 30s. If you get stamped in Arty Farty, you can get in here free without paying entry twice. Look out for their Circuit after-parties on weekends which go till 11am the next day. The Annex is open from 8pm 'til 4 or 5am Monday-Saturday and is located at 1F Futami Bldg, 2-14-11 Shinjuku-ku.

Dragon Men

Dragon Men is one of the most famous gay clubs in Tokyo. It draws a mixed crowd of expats, foreigners and locals, basically anyone who is looking to have a few cocktails and get down on the dance floor. The very scantily clad (and cute) staff definitely add to the popularity of this place! There's a happy ‘hour' of 200 yen off all drinks from Monday to Thursday 6-8pm.. Dragon Men is open every day until 3am (on weekends until 5am) and is located at 1/F Stork Nagasaki 2-11-4 Shinjuku Ni-Chome.

AiSOTOPE Lounge

It might be called a lounge but in actuality, this is the biggest gay club in Nichome, spread out over two floors with two different dance areas and even a dark room. It's run by the same people behind AiRRO Cafe Bar, and they host lots of dance parties including events that are men-only or women-only. The staff are super friendly, the cocktails are amazing and if you're looking to cruise or just get down on the dance floor to some house music, this is the spot for you! AiSOTOPE is open every day, there's always some type of event happening so check the schedule for more info. It's located at 2-12-6 Shinjuku-ku.

Gay clubbing in Tokyo's Dragon Men
A night out clubbing at Dragon Men gay club with our friend Yuki

Gay events in Tokyo

The two main annual gay events in Tokyo are the city's Rainbow Pride in April and the Rainbow Reel film festival in July. We've also included other annual events and festivals that we think LGBTQ travellers would be interested in set out chronologically:

Setsubun Matsuri Festival (February)

The annual bean throwing festival to welcome in the Spring and to kick out old demons. It takes place at temples all over the country where people come to throw and catch roasted soybeans. You can experience the Setsubun Festival in Tokyo at the Zojoji Temple as well as Sensoji Temple, Kongoji Temple, Honmonji Temple, and Suitengu Shrine.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride (April)

Tokyo's Pride event takes place in late April with a week-long event called Rainbow Week. The climax is the large parade on the weekend, which culminates at Yoyogi Park with lots of booths and performances. There are also plenty of parties and events taking place throughout the week, so you'll have lots of ways to celebrate.

Kanda Matsuri Festival (May)

One of the city's liveliest festivals involving a large procession of portable shrines priests, dancers, musicians and other characters dressed in various traditional costumes. The Kanda Matsuri Festival takes place during odd-numbered years while the similar Sanja Matsuri takes place during the even-numbered ones. So whenever you visit Tokyo in May, be prepared to see the streets packed with festival-goers.

Rainbow Reel Tokyo (July)

The Rainbow Reel is the city's official LGBTQ film festival, which started in 1992. It's actually one of the oldest and largest film festivals of its kind held in Asia. Rainbow Reel Tokyo doesn't just show films about lesbian and gay people, but also films about people with different sexual minorities such as transgender, intersexual, and bisexual people. It takes place every July, with a week-long program featuring LGBTQ films from around the world.

Tomioka Hachimangu Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri (August)

This one reminded us of Thailand's Songkran Festivals because it turns into one big water fight! This is another event where teams of shrine carriers parade through the street while spectators splash them with water. Splashing people with water during this festival is meant to be a form of purification but since it takes place in summer the water is also quite refreshing. It's only properly held every three years, but a smaller version is held on the other years.

Koenji Awa-Odori (August)

An absolutely fantastical 2-day folk dancing festival involving around 10,000 dancers and attracting crowds in the millions! This event is one of the largest street parties in Tokyo, taking place in the neighbourhood of Koenji during the last weekend of August. It's definitely a fun way to finish up the summer.

Kanda Used Book Festival (October)

Jimbocho is a neighbourhood in Chiyoda famous for having a large number of book shops. Every October the shops join together for one large week-long festival to celebrate their love for the written word. During the festival, bookstalls selling popular, rare and valuable books are set up on the sidewalks all around the area while pop-up entertainment events take place as well. It's one of the largest secondhand book fairs in the world and a must-visit for book-lovers!

Asakusa Hagoita Ichi (December)

An open-air market fair at the Sensoji Temple with many stalls selling lots of goodies and good luck charms to commemorate the New Year celebrations. One of our favourite souvenirs here is the “hagoita”, which is an ornamental wooden paddle designed with images of Kabuki characters or anime. Also, if you buy one, be prepared to clap your hands in time with the seller as part of this cheerful festival!

Gay onsen in Tokyo

Onsens are the traditional Japanese bathhouses, where men and women are separated and nudity is kind of obligatory. There are several different baths to bathe in, of varying temperatures. Aside from the traditional onsen, there are also a few gay onsens to check out, mainly owned by the 24 Kaikan brand:

  • 24 Kaikan Shinjuku: this is part of the gay onsen chain called 24 Kaikan, targeted more to cruising than traditional onsen. Spread out over 8 different floors there's a dry sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, solarium, video room, private cabins, snack room and lockers. It's also one of the most popular cruising spots for gay men in Tokyo, so if you're looking for a hook-up, this is the right place! This branch of 24 Kaikan usually attracts a mixed crowd of internationals and Japanese, on the young to middle-age range. Located at 2-13-1 Shinjuku Ni-chome, 24 Kaikan Shinjuku is open 24/7.
  • 24 Kaikan Ueno: another Kaikan gay onsen located in the Ueno neighbourhood, this one is slightly smaller than the Shinjuku location, but just as fun! There's a dry sauna, mist room, steam room, communal baths, solarium, video room, private cabins and a common play area. This branch tends to attract more middle-aged men/bears and those that love them! It's located at 1 Chome 8-7, Kita, Ueno and is also open 24/7.
  • 24 Kaikan Asakusa: the original 24 Kaikan gay onsen, which may seem slightly shabby compared to the newer branches, but is still an interesting experience. The clientele is usually older, frequently tattooed and sometimes a bit kinky. Patrons are mostly uncles, mature men and their fans. It's located at 2 Chome 29-16 Asakusa and, of course, open 24/7.
  • JIN-YA: while the 24 Kaikan kind of dominate the gay onsen scene in Tokyo, there's also JIN-YA, a compact gay sauna that's arguably the most foreigner-friendly in the city. Facilities include a dry sauna, communal baths, play areas, a video room and even a rooftop nude sunbathing terrace. It's open 24/7 and can be found at 2 Chome-30-19 Ikebukuro.
Our gay onsen in Tokyo selfie
Brought to you live from the onsens of Tokyo!

What to do in Tokyo?

Transform into a geisha

The Nomadic Boys transformed into geishas - an incredible experience in Tokyo!

What better way to discover more about the elusive geisha then to transform into one at the Studio Geisha Cafe. This is an experience of a lifetime and certainly one of our favourite unique things you can do in Tokyo. Read more about our own transformations here! If you're not into dressing up as a geisha yourself you could still be entertained while learning about their history and traditions at a cultural Geisha Encounter. The experience takes place at a modern ochaya (tea house), where Geisha entertain guests with song, dance, games and conversation.


Discover Tokyo's gay nightlife

Get an introduction to Tokyo's gay scene on a gay night tour.

If you don't feel like going out to the gay bars by yourself then you could also join a Tokyo gay night tour which will introduce you to the best local gay bars. Your guide takes you away from the main touristy bars so you can hang out with gay locals in the Shinjuku Nichome area. One of the highlights includes a quirky basement bear bar run by a Japanese ex-pro-rugby player. You'll get a free drink in each of the three bars you visit, as well as being able to partake in some karaoke with your new friends. Just remember, you need to be at least 20 years old to buy alcohol in Japan!


Sample some delicious Japanese food!

Join a Tokyo food tour to find the best local places for delicious dinners!

An excellent way to discover downtown Tokyo and dive straight into some of the best izakayas (gastropubs) is to join a food tour. It can be hard figuring out the best places to eat, especially if you don't read kanji, so by joining a tour with a local guide you'll get to know the most delicious spots to enjoy delicious ramen, sushi and more in the lively Shinbashi district. This is where local workers wind down of an evening and during your tour, you'll sample dishes from four different food shops including a pancake place that only locals know about!


Visit an Onsen

Relaxing in the soothing waters of an onsen is a must-do when in Tokyo.

A very traditional Japanese experience not to miss! An onsen is a public bath where you bathe in various pools of water sourced from hot springs. They're the perfect way to conquer jet lag. Our favourite (non-gay) onsen is the Maenohara Onsen (1180 yen/$11 per person), the closest metro is Shimura-sakaue Station. We loved relaxing in the many different types of baths and saunas here.


Learn to cook Japanese Food

Join a cooking tour while you're in Tokyo to learn how to make authentic Japanese sushi

Japanese cuisine has become very popular around the world in recent decades and it's no surprise since it's sooo yummy! While visiting Tokyo you definitely need to learn to make sushi, bento boxes and other traditional dishes in a cooking class so that you can show off your skills to friends back home. We had so much fun at our Japanese cooking class, and we still like making different sushi dishes at home. Learning local cooking styles is also a great way to remember the places you've visited.


See the Shibuya Crossing

Get the best views of Tokyo's Shibuya crossing on top of the MAGNET shopping centre!

This famous pedestrian intersection outside Shibuya Station is the place to get a real feel of the immense world of Tokyo. When the road signs turn red, an invasion of bodies takes over the entire area which is incredible to see. If you want to get the quintessential shot of the crossing from above, head to Mag's Park; a viewing spot on top of the MAGNET by SHIBUYA 109 shopping complex. It costs 300 yen to access the viewing spot which is open from 11am until 11pm daily.


Takeshita Street in Harajuku

Kawaii performers at a J-Pop concert in Harajuku, Tokyo.

This is the place to spot grown-up women dressed up as manga characters or schoolgirls, made famous worldwide by Gwen Stefani in the song “Harajuku Girls”. Takeshita Street is also lined with shops if you want to pick up your own adorable fashion pieces or just gape at the variety of Gothic Lolita dresses available. While you're in the area make sure you experience a J-Pop Concert for the most kawaii performance you've ever seen! For more, check out our 8 quirky and interesting facts about Japan.


Quirky Tokyo

Tokyo is full of very quirky attractions, like the robot cafe which has a very cool light show performed by the robot!

Tokyo is renowned for some really quirky fashion and alternative attractions, as we've mentioned. One of the coolest ‘weird' things we did in Tokyo was to visit the Robot Restaurant! The name is slightly misleading as there's not much in the way of food but you can enjoy some basic dishes while you watch a crazy robot show with neon lights, smoke and blaring pop music. The performers are a professional dance troupe who ride giant robots and dragons in a bizarre spectacle that you will never forget.


Learn about Tokyo's history and culture

The Meiji Shrine in Tokyo is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.

Make sure you don't miss Tokyo's many beautiful shrines, temples and historic sites during your visit. The Meiji Jingu Shinto Shrine and the Imperial Palace are two beautiful spots to experience Tokyo's past. You could join a sightseeing tour that will take you to these spots, but for something a little more authentic why not explore the historic area of Asakusa in a traditional rickshaw!? This is a fun way to see some of Asakusa's sights such as the famous Kaminari-mon Gate and Senso-ji Temple.


Tokyo's Coolest Museum

Amazing immersive art at the teamLab Borderless digital art museum in Tokyo.

There are some incredible museums in Tokyo that are worth a visit, especially for fans of art, movies and culture like us. One of the coolest and most famous modern art museums in Tokyo is the teamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum. This museum uses digital projectors to create animated artworks which move on the walls, floors, and ceiling. You can walk on and among the art projections, which often move in response to you. This is a truly wondrous place to visit and also a great spot to get some amaaazing photos for your Instagram!


 

Where to eat in Tokyo?

Tokyo is a paradise for foodies with lots to keep your tummy inspired and content:

  • Sushi mania at Toyosu fish market: Tokyo is THE place to come for the best sushi, specifically at the restaurants around Toyosu – the world's largest fish market. The market caters to the nearby restaurants, so they inevitably serve up the most delicious, fresh sushi you'll ever try.
  • Izakayas: are gastropubs, after work bars, popular with salary men, where you come to drink sake or highball (Japanese drink of whisky and soda water) and order small inexpensive plates of food.
  • Point and hope! This became our favourite method of dining in Tokyo. In one unassuming bar we impulsively went to, Sebastien pointed to this item at random, which turned out to be a delicious plate of tempura:
Point and hope method of eating in Tokyo
Sebastien's “point and hope” led to this delicious plate of tempura
  • Ramen bars: ramen is a seriously delicious and highly contagious meat or vegetable-based broth with noodles and a variety of toppings. You can get a bowl from one of the many inexpensive ramen bars across the city, from as little as 800 yen ($8). For the best ramen bar, ask a local to point you in the direction of their favourite and check out Ramen Adventures for a deeper insight of the Tokyo world of ramen.
  • Kaiseki Japanese fine dining: involves many small plates of delicious Japanese prizes presented like works of art. We tried the Kaiseki at the Shangri-La's Nadaman restaurant, an incredibly romantic setting, dim lights, with jaw-dropping views of the city. One of the dishes at the Nadaman includes the very famous and incredibly scrumptious wagyu beef.
Nadaman gay friendly restaurant Kaiseki fine dining Tokyo
Our Kaiseki at the Nadaman restaurant included an appetiser work of art, the famous Wagyu beef and fresh heavenly sashimi

Gay travel agents

If you're looking for a gay-friendly travel company to organise your trip to Tokyo and the rest of Japan, we've partnered with Out Asia Travels, an excellent gay-owned travel agency, who offer tailored tours and itineraries.

These guys are locals, passionate travellers and have a real insight of Japanese culture and the gay scene across the country. They are offering our readers an exclusive 5% discount for bookings of 7 days or more when you quote NOMADIC5 in your enquiry.

FILL OUT THIS FORM TO ENJOY A 5% DISCOUNT FOR YOUR HOLIDAY TO JAPAN

Stefan's amusing take on gay travel agents in Tokyo!
Stefan and his new friends in Tokyo

Before you go

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Tokyo. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.

How to get there: It's most likely that you will be flying to Tokyo which means you will arrive at Narita International Airport which is about 60km east of central Tokyo. The easiest way to get from the airport to your accommodation is with a stress-free private airport transfer.


Visa requirements: Citizens of 68 countries including the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and most EU countries coming to Japan for tourist reasons don't need a visa to enter. You will need your passport and proof of onward travel though. Make sure you check your visa requirements before travelling to Japan.


Getting around: Within the city of Tokyo, you will mostly be using the metro system which is very easy to understand with everything displayed in English. It can get very busy though, so we recommend pre-ordering a Tokyo metro pass which will save you money as well.


Power Plugs: Japan uses two main types of power plugs; type A which is mainly used in China as well as North and Central America or type B, which will also work with a type A plug. If you are travelling to Japan from a different country to those mentioned then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.


Travel insurance: make sure you get travel insurance before your trip to Tokyo because you never know when you might run into trouble, whether that's from illness, theft or even just flight cancellations. We have been using World Nomads Travel Insurance for ages and can't recommend them highly enough. They provide comprehensive cover and it's easy to make a claim online when you need to.


Safety and Security: Travel can be dangerous, even in a country like Japan, but you can stay safe by being smart. We've written a post on how to stay safe while travelling where we mention one of our favourite tools: the CloseCircle virtual bodyguard app. CloseCircle provides all manner of support when you are travelling, from alerts to advice or even evacuation if needed.


Vaccinations: In general you don't need any specific vaccines before travelling to Japan, apart from being up to date on routine vaccines such as measles. If you are planning to visit any rural areas in Japan then you may want to be vaccinated for Japanese Encephalitis. Make sure you always check with your doctor if you might need vaccines before travel.


Currency: The currency used in Japan is the yen, abbreviated to JPY. $1 converts to around 110 Japanese yen while €1 is worth about 122 yen.


Tipping culture: Many Japanese people believe that good service should be the standard, so tipping is not customary here. You may tip if you wish but do not be surprised or offended if it is refused. Also, never just give cash from your wallet or purse, make sure you put it in an envelope first and then hand it to the person with both hands.


Internet access: Free WiFi is usually offered in hotels, airports, train stations, restaurants and cafes in Japan, but not everywhere. Paid WiFi hotspots are more common, so if you know you will be needing to use a lot of internet during your travels to Tokyo then you may like to rent your own portable WiFi device during your trip. We've written a detailed guide on renting pocket WiFi in Japan here if you want more information.


Online privacy: While Japan is relatively progressive by Asian standards, you still may like to keep your online history private, especially if you plan to use gay dating apps like Grindr or Scruff. We like to use ExpressVPN when we travel as it's reliable and affordable.


Accommodation: Whenever we travel to Japan, we use Booking.com to find accommodation with the best prices. Their system is easy to use plus they offer free cancellation on many properties. The 24/7 customer support is also excellent.


Sightseeing and adventure: GetYourGuide is another great company we love, with so many fun activities to choose from in locations around the world, and especially so in Tokyo! The online booking process is very simple and they also have fantastic 24/7 customer support.


When to visit: The best times to visit Japan would have to be either in spring for the beautiful blossoms or autumn for the magnificent foliage. Tokyo's Rainbow Pride takes place in April or May so you may wish to time your visit for then as well.


Tokyo gay map

This is a detailed map of Tokyo which includes gay friendly hotels, gay bars and clubs as well as the best things to do in Tokyo:

All the best gay hotels, bars, restaurants and things to do in Tokyo, Japan.

For more inspiration:

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Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, an activity or your insurance, we’ll earn a small commission. There is never an extra cost to you for using these links and it helps us keep the site going.

Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

64 thoughts on “Gay Tokyo: travel guide to Tokyo’s best gay bars, clubs and hotels”

  1. I cant stop laughing at some of these photos you guys look like you had a great time. I am going to plan to get one of those 7 day travel passes to save some cash..thanks for the tip!

    Have you guys ever came to Hawaii..there are some awesome gay bars out here

  2. Hey Guys,
    Have always so enjoyed following your travel adventures online and the destination guides especially. Wanted to write and say that, thanks to you, we used OutAsiaTravel to plan our recent 12 days in Japan. Shintaro-san (and Hiromi-san in America) were beyond outstanding in every way. Anyone reading this blog should take your advice and use them. They can help with whatever your desires – and budget – want to experience while in Japan. And then make all the arrangements. It couldn’t have been a more perfect trip. Thanks again, OutAsiaTravel and Nomadic Boys.
    Brian and Keith
    p.s. We’ve spent the last 45 years traveling the world together with, we think, over 120 countries on the list (lost count along the way a bit). Only mention that because, 1. we have a certain amount of experience with travel companies to back up our recommendation and, 2. to let you boys know that shared travel adventures can make for a long and blissful and rich life together. Looks like you two are off to a great start…

    • Hi boys – so pleased you had such a positive experience with OutAsia! That was certainly our experience as well 🙂

  3. THANK YOU guys for posting all of this incredibly helpful info. I’ve had Japan on my bucket list for many years now. And i am finally going to do it for my 45th birthday gift to myself. If not then by 50 for DAMN SURE…!!! LOL Anyway all the info was very helpful for me but what do you recommend for gay travelers going solo…? It’s such an overwhelmingly large city and as far as transit goes forget it i’d most likely wind up in Hokkaido…LOL I’d like to stay in Shinjuku for about 10 days and i’ve found a direct flight non-stop on JAL from Boston, MA to Narita. Two of the hotels i’ve been targeted for my stay are Toku Stay Shinjuku at the following address; 3-7-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022 and the other being APA Hotel Shinjuku Gyoemmae at the following address; 160-0022 Tokyo Prefecture, Shinjuku-ku Shinjuku 2-2-8 Are these two hotels close to the gay map of Tokyo you highlighted in your article…? Also, who would you recommend hiring for a private gay or gay friendly guide once i’m there…? I did find one company online called gogayjapan.com that offers private or small group tours. Not sure how “reliable” he is or the company as a whole…? I definitely want to experience the Tokyo Sky Tower while i’m there and the Owl Cafe as i’m an avid birder and have been for the last 25yrs. So that would be very interesting to me being up close to the owls like that. I’m planning on $10k or $10,000 for my total trip expenses including flight, hotel, food, and a few day or evening excursions. Do you guys feel that would be enough for one person or would i need more then that…? Also, since i’ll be staying the bulk of my time in Shinjuku do i really need a JR Rail Pass or any train or subway passes. Or can i get by via taxi…? I know taxi’s are EXTREMELY expensive there but since i’ll be only using it for very short jaunts here and there i wonder what your thoughts are on that…? I’d much rather fly into Haneda but unfortunately there are no direct flights from my city of Boston, MA to there. The only way would be a layover from Boston to Toronto-Pearson airport and then over to Haneda. So the non-stop to Narita is far more appealing to me. However, i do know that i still have to get from the airport to my hotel and Narita is a bit of distance from Shinjuku. So i was thinking of using this service at the following website; http://tokyoairporter.com what are your thoughts on that may i ask…? Anyway that about covers most of my questions. If you guys could get back to me at my personal email address with some suggestions or otherwise. I would GREATLY appreciate it. Arigatou gozaimasu.

    Tommy 🙂

    • Hi tommy we definitely recommend the hotels in this article and Gay Tour Asia who are also offering a discount for readers of our blog 🙂

  4. Absolutely one of the best Japan tour posts I’ve ever seen, the pleasure and fun is all so evident in your pictures and descriptions. I wouldn’t mind going back to Japan to seek out everything I’ve missed out from this list in Shinjuku. Great read!

  5. This post has made me so happy. I love that the gay scene is so big in Tokyo, and that it is so embraced. The photo of you two dressed up as geisha’s is the most amazing thing ever.

  6. You guys look so great in your Geisha get up. Good to see that Tokyo has become even more gay friendly. Looks like you had an incredible time – and oh my god the Park Hyatt looks incredible.

  7. I love how gay friendly Tokyo is.. I never thought it would be if I’m honest. But it all sounds amazing. I wish other big cities could take note. x

  8. It does actually surprise me that Japan is one of the leading countries in Asia re gay rights, but it’s fantastic to hear! I would love to be in the city during Tokyo Rainbow Pride one year 🙂

  9. You two make two good-looking geisha’s if I may say. So I did the point and hope trick myself and got lucky with a tasty bowl of ramen. One time I had to pick using a vending machine that dispensed tickets to give to the chef, also point and hope style. I love Japan and all of its quirkiness and I am so happy to hear that it is progressive and accepting of the LGBTQ community. It looks like you had a beautiful and excellent experience. Side note, I love your blog and I have a few friends who are going to love this even more. They’re going to be so happy when I send them your link. Happy Travels!

  10. With the usual impression of Japan’s traditional ways, its great to discover that they’re so open to gay travel! Your Tokyo trip looks like so much fun, especially the Geisha makeover. I got one and it was the best 😉

  11. What a fantastic and detailed guide. Very surprised to hear how open Japan is. That is so awesome. Your geisha dress up is hilarious. Very well done and fun. Happy travels!

  12. Glad to hear Japan is so open to gay rights even though they are conservative! Looks like you found some great spots to check out! We loved Tokyo so much–I’d love to head back sometime! I love that you dressed up as a Geisha–that is an awesome photo!! We didn’t do that, but we did head up to the New York Bar–we couldn’t resist! The Ramen Adventures link just made me so hungry–I am obsessed with ramen and now I think we need to head back to Tokyo ASAp!! 🙂

  13. I think my next trip to Asia is going to be Japan. I want to eat just about everything. I think I’d have to try both the food tour and cooking class. Plus that view from the Park Hyatt is breathtaking. Saving for when I start planning my trip.

  14. You look like you had such a fabulous time in Tokyo. And don’t you just look gorgeous in your kimono, just like the historical geisha. Almost wondering if there was an announcement coming at the beginning there .. maybe next time Stefan.

  15. I never would have thought as Tokyo as a gay destinations. Now I have have 1 more reason to visit! I may go next July for the Film Festival and then visit Campy Bar because it looks awesome

  16. You guys have a dream life. What an incredible adventure it must be. This looks truly amazing and how I would love to travel with you guys one day. I love the details that you share. Thanks again guys!!

      • Great guide and such fun reading it bursting into giggles. And the photos are something. Having spent 6 week in Japan 2 years ago, my partner and I are going there again in Sept but staying for 3 months. Will try out the gay bars and other places this time – inspired b your guide. Thanks. Maybe see you in Japan

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