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Gay couple - any issues to consider? 2010/1/13 22:23

My partner and I will be traveling throughout Japan for 3 weeks in a few months from Tokyo to Okinawa making stops at numerous cities and towns, and small villages.

We are a young (mid 20's) very straight-acting gay couple and would like to stay in historic and mid-high range ryokans and Minshukus most nights. Is it considered acceptable for two men to share such accommodation (particularly Shibu Onsen, Shirakawa-go ryokans)?

It may sound like a silly question, but I would just like to be prepared in case it's something I may need to explain, which may be awkward with the communication barrier. I could foresee difficulties if, for example, rooms came supplied with 1 male and 1 female yutukas :)

Are there any other issues which I should be aware of that may arise anywhere throughout our travels? Any advice you could share to avoid awkwardness/chagrin would be excellent.

by Otaku (guest)  

... 2010/1/14 10:02
Well, it's perfectly acceptable and normal for straight guys travel together and share rooms.

When you make reservations, just let them know it's two guys and they will put the appropriate yukata in the room for you.

Just to let you know, in Japan, public displays of affection between men just doesn't happen beyond basic greetings. Straight men do not wrap arms, hold hands, or kiss each other goodbye.

That said, Japan is a fairly tolerant country for same sex relationships. Mostly because people don't impose themselves on the private relationships, straight or gay, of non-celebrities.

While people might whisper or talk behind your back at the sight of seeing two foreign men being affectionate with each other, it's unlikely anyone would approach you on the subject.

However, err on the side of caution at rural lodges and ryokan. Treat it like "don't ask, don't tell" in traditional and rural places.
by kyototrans rate this post as useful

Not Many 2010/1/14 13:44
There are not many issues.

As the above person said, gay couples can feel quite safe in Japan.

The Japanese are "tolerant" of homosexuals in the way that you should not be harrassed by others HOWEVER, they are generally not tolerant in terms of accepting homosexuality.

Particularly in minshuku, which are owned by individuals, you may want to (or have to) sleep as straight men, depending on how the accommodations are set up. That may or may not be important to you.

Once again, as the above poster mentions, Japanese people generally dislike PDA, and homosexual PDA will draw even more attention, and people will definitely be talking among themselves about it. Many Japanese see homosexuality as predominantly foreign, so for some of them, seeing gay Westerners be a somewhat unsurprising confirmation that Westerners are sexually promiscuous/immoral/below the Japanese. You won't likely see any of this, but I've had many conversations with Japanese and this subject, and their views are often strange, misguided, and quite negative in regards to homosexuality; they just don't get it. (on the other hand, perhaps most cultures and societies "don't get it")

ALSO, if you have conversations where you tell people that you are a homosexual, be aware that the term "gei" in Japanese is most commonly associated with "tranny" in English. If you call yourself gay, most peopel will think you want to be a woman or that you dress up as a woman, and then you have to explain that you simply are attracted to men. "homo" is a better word to describe what we call "gay" in English. "homo" is specifically men who like men. This may be useful information, if you ever want to talk to someone about your sexuality.
by Rabbityama rate this post as useful

very useful!! 2010/1/14 14:10
What great and useful information! I certainly don't anticipate any conflicts or prejudice - we are very easy going and it is never an issue at home. I just like to always be prepared, you just can't be to careful when travelling to foreign destinations.

Also, knowing how respectful and tolerant the Japanese culture is I was more concerned about offending than anything else. I would hate to offend or embarress our hosts!
by otaku (guest) rate this post as useful

Gay couple 2010/1/14 14:41
Just wanted to put this out there as a gay man who has traveled from one end of Japan to the other 3 times with my partner, with a friend and with my partner and a friend. Not once did the issue of us being gay men traveling in Japan even come up. We stayed always in ryokan which were mainly family owned and a minshuku in Nagasaki, also family owned. We were made to feel welcome in all of them, as much as any of the other guests. I don't remember ever having to ask for a "male" yukata, I thought they were unisex. I really wouldn't worry about it.
by stevenjv (guest) rate this post as useful

gay couple 2010/1/14 15:35
Yukatas in the majority of hotels and ryokans are exactly the same for both sexes, as far as colours and design and belt. It would have to be a pricey ryokan indeed to have yukatas for women only !

We stayed once in a $1000 a night Japanese style suite in a Tokyo hotel and the yukatas were the ordinary indigo blue coton ones. (but was the suite great! especially considering the great deal we got it for..)

In fact women close yukatas and kimonos the same way as men do: left side over right side. see
on this site the women have a different obi than n the men but this isn't the case in hotels and ryokans
see also
isn't Google great?
by Monkey see (guest) rate this post as useful

Gay Couple 2010/5/1 15:15

My husband and I just came back from our 2 week trip from Japan, it was our first time there, we had such a great time and as a gay married couple let me tell you that you don't have to worry about it! We have a friend living in Tokyo (who is also gay and Brazilian) who introduce us to his gay Japanese (and foreigns) friends and we obviously asked them a lot of questions on the subject.

I can understand the fact that you are trying to behave the most adequate for the context and situation so your experience will be enjoyable and great and perhaps the cultural crush plus the fact of being a gay couple makes a lot of questions to pop up in the head... But again you don't have to worry at least in my opinion and through my personal experience I can tell you this:

1. Japanese people are incredible hospitable with guest and customers, they will do their best to serve you and wouldn't ask about you marital status, if for any reason 2 males (or females, or a male and a female) are not allowed in a ryokan, hotel, etc. they will announce it.

2. Ordinary people may stare at you and even talk about you but unless you speak Japanese you will not understand them and it's very normal for them to this with foreign tourists, so don't take it personal, they just feel curious about you and your physical features.

3. Old generations are way too traditional in Japan and may have lots of stereotypes and prejudice in their psyche towards gaijins but the new generations seem to be very open to foreigners and gay people, we meet a lot of mid 20's 30's straight Japanese people (male and female) who were very friendly, open and sincere to us, they would even give advices and support! (As everywhere right, we have all kinds of people everywhere).

4. PDA is not a common thing we saw in Japan not even in Tokyo (and personally I'm not into PDA with my husband) yet our Brazilian friend (gay) and our French (straight) friend living in Yokohama greeted us with kisses (in our cheeks) and obviously hugs and I never notice any "look". As for gay PDA, well, I think it could be hard to accept in a lot of parts around the world even here in the US.

5. Many young Japanese guys are "metrosexuals" straight or gay or bi (or whatever) we met a lot guys with make up, handbags, tight clothes, wigs, "feminine" (in their looks and behavior)... A "western" feminine guy will go unnoticed walking down Shibuya or Shinjuku! No pretending macho attitude is needed in Japan!

6. And finally as a personal advice: Enjoy! Don't think too much about being polite, I believe that your intention is enough and you will not get into trouble!!!

Well... Wish you both the best on your trip!
by Psicoloco rate this post as useful

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