Tokyo ranks as one of our legit favourite destinations ever! It's clean, extremely safe, the people just impeccable, foodgasms galore and a fantastic gay scene with over 300 gay bars in Shinjuku's Ni-Chōme district!
Put it this way, Tokyo is so fabulous, even the gorgeous Queer Eye Fab Five team made it over here (not to mention the 2020 Olympic Games!).
We've visited Tokyo several times over the past few years and experienced the best Tokyo's gay scene has to offer. We've put together our LGBTQ travel guide to Tokyo based on our first-hand experience to help you have a fabulous holiday there.
Fun gay tour of Tokyo
Tokyo's gay scene can be quite overwhelming, so it might pay to have a private gay guide to show you around.
On this tour, you'll be picked by your gay guide who will show you the best of Tokyo's gay nightlife through the eyes of a local. You'll experience a traditional Japanese gay bar, visit a gay lounge popular with young gay guys and you'll even get to choose the last place to visit at the end of the tour.
What we cover in this guide
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 extremely respectful towards foreigners and Japanese people will do their absolute best to make you feel welcome. Getting a double bed was never an issue in any of the places we stayed in Tokyo, whether a local guesthouse or a hotel.
In our humble opinion, we rate Japan as one of the most gay friendly countries in Asia. 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 in some of the District Courts of Tokyo.
One thing we guarantee, Tokyo is one super fascinating destination you will fall in love with and will want to return to.
Stay connected in Japan
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.
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.
The Capitol Hotel Tokyu
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.
The Park Hyatt
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!
The Hyatt Regency
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.
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. If this is your first time in Tokyo, we highly recommend you join this tour with a local gay guide, who will show you the best gay hangouts in one evening. We've listed below our favourite gay bars in Tokyo.
Your personalised gay friendly itinerary to Japan
We've teamed up with the excellent gay travel company OUT Asia to offer our readers an exclusive 5% discount off the total cost of any trip to Japan you book with them. They specialise in crafting tailored trips and itineraries for LGBTQ travellers to Japan.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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 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. You can also join this tour with a local gay guide, who will show you the best gay hangouts in Ni Chome.
This club is an institution on the Tokyo gay scene and one of the best for drag shows. It's one of the oldest, standing proud since 1966 when it was a “gay disco” bar. True to its roots, it's retained this feel and is one of the best clubs for a gay night out. It was Freddy Mercury's favourite gay club in Tokyo – each time he'd come here, he would famously proclaim (in Japanese): “I'm home!” This is also where the Queer Eye boys filmed one of their Japan episodes so you know it's where all the Antoni Porowski fans (ahem!) are gonna want to top up their Insta Stories! New Sazae is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings from around 10pm until 7am the next morning, and is located at 2F, 2-18-5 Shinjuku.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
What to do in Tokyo?
Transform into a geisha
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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. Below are our favourite eating experiences we recommend to gay travellers:
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.
THey're 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:
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
Kaiseiki 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.
Gay travel agents in Japan
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
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.
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 Gay Tokyo which includes our favourite gay friendly hotels, gay bars and clubs as well as the best things to do in Tokyo:
For more inspiration:
- First time to Japan? Plan your trip with our 10 days itinerary to Japan post
- Find out how to spend 2 days in Hiroshima
- As well as what to do in Kyoto
- Salivate over our 10 favourite traditional Japanese foods
- Then try our recipe for Japanese green tea cake
- Or perhaps you'd like to try your hand at making yummy yaki udon?
- We even have a recipe for delicious chicken ramen!
- Don't miss out on visiting the Yaeyama Islands while you're in Japan
- Find out the best scuba diving spots in Asia
- As well as what it's like to travel through Asia as a gay couple
- Travelling further in Asia? Check out our gay country guide to Sri Lanka
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Happy travels are safe travels
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