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Monday, April 27, 2015

Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2015--an LGBT Celebration in Japan's Capital


Tokyo Rainbow Pride event, Japan.
Costumed fun at the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Festa at Yoyogi Park.

The sun joined with over 3,000 people on Sunday to smile on this year's Tokyo Rainbow Pride celebration in Tokyo's Yoyogi district.

This year's celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pride was a two-day event: the Festa covering Saturday and Sunday, 25th and 26th April, and the Parade happening on Sunday, 26th April.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride event, 2015.
Main plaza of the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Festa, Yoyogi Park.

The Festa at Yoyogi Park was an all-weekend affair, from 11 am to 8 pm, and featured scores of stalls, including the trusty Google stall--a regular corporate presence at Tokyo Rainbow Pride--and those of marriage equality groups. The discussion and entertainment schedule was a rich and varied one, ranging from a drag queen show, to musical performances that included a Japanese drumming troupe, to talk events (including "AIDS Is Not Over"), and drawing enthusiastic crowds.

Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2015, marching down Omotesando, Japan.
Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade. Omotesando, Tokyo.

The Tokyo Rainbow Pride event this year was especially focused on marriage equality for LGBT people, given the groundswell in support for it around the world over the past year, and, in particular, the recent move by Shibuya ward to recognize gay partnership when dealing with Shibuya ward residents. Only last week, on April 19, a lesbian couple had a wedding ceremony in Tokyo's Shinjuku ward in an unprecedentedly public expression of gay marriage commitment in Japan. While the formal application to get the marriage registered was not accepted at the ward office, it built on the semi-official recognition already afforded the act by neighboring Shibuya ward.
A very tall drag queen, Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2015, Tokyo, Japan.
A towering drag queen at Tokyo Rainbow Pride, 2015.

The Tokyo Rainbow Pride march on Sunday was, as always, a gleeful celebration of diversity. Participants filled the streets of Shibuya led by costumed revellers, waving banners, and generally being visible.

Setting out on the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade through Shibuya, Tokyo, 2015.
Setting off on the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade march, 2015.

JapanVisitor spoke to an organizer who expressed the hope that "with sexual minorities now starting to make their mark publicly in the world, we hope that Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade will continue to be seen not as a 'protest' against discrimination and a striving for visibility, but as a celebration not only of diversity, but of ever greater acceptance of gay, lesbian, and other sexual minorities, by Japanese society."

Google presence at Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2015, Tokyo, Japan.
Google stall at Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2015, Tokyo, Japan.

See YouTube footage of a previous year's Tokyo Rainbow Pride event.

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