Japan has become steadily more open to gender diversity, as exemplified by capital’s Rainbow Pride, which will see tens of thousands descend on the city’s Shinjuku district from today for a string of events and parties
Let's start off with a few things specifically for LGBTQ travelers that are good to know prior to showing up at the onsen followed by a general step by step guide to the entire process. My goal is to make sure you're fully informed and can make a decision about whether onsen is something you'd like to try!
IT'S A BATHHOUSE BUT NOT A "BATHHOUSE"
Bathhouses are not a new concept to many in the LGBTQ community, particularly those in the G category. Gay bathhouses are a common sight in most major Western cities, though the arrival of the internet and smartphone may be curbing younger generations interest or need for such facilities. Please note that unlike their western gay counterparts, Japanese onsen are generally not a location where men go to meet one another for casual sexual encounters. Yes, there's an option for soaking in a hot bath. Yes, there's communal nudity. But the similarities end there. Going to an onsen with an expectation of sexual activity or even meeting other LGBTQ individuals will likely end at a minimum with your disappointment and at most with your involvement with the Japanese police force.
‘Call me Hiro…’ he said politely as we shook hands; 33-year-old Hiro’s English was perfect, my Japanese non-existent. It was happy hour in the hotel’s New York Bar, so we chatted over beers while…