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Kansai Rainbow Festa Recap

The Kansai Rainbow Festa was a delightful success and a good time was had by all! Despite the surprisingly hot October weather, we met many people across a wide area and enjoyed interacting with both locals and other members of the broader community.At the Stonewall Japan booth we offered rainbow face (or due to the hot weather-arm) paint in the colours of the rainbow. Louis, I, and a large number of fantastic volunteers chatted and made friends with many new people. People came not just from the Kansai area, but also from prefectures in other regions of Japan. We managed to raise approximately 7,000 yen.

In addition to our booth, a large number of other organisations were also present, showing the real vibrancy of our community within Osaka. A stage was set up for performances and a multitude of food and drink stalls were there too.

The parade itself was also a success. We held up a large banner for Stonewall Japan and marched together, drawing the eyes and attention of many curious locals. The response was overwhelmingly positive (I think it was fairly clear what the parade was representing). The parade went around the Doyama district of Osaka and took a little over an hour as there were a large number of traffic lights.

Following the festivities during the day, we got together as a group and went out for dinner at an izakaya located in Tenma. The rest of the evening was spent dancing away (there may have been karaoke involved) at several bars in the Doyama area.

Overall, the event was a great success and I hope to see it grow larger in the years to come. It is always great to meet new people and to learn more about the community. While the atmosphere is reportedly less lively than other celebrations in Japan, I still think we all view as a fun time. In the coming years, I look forward to seeing what we can do to expand upon and improve the event.

Thank you to everyone who came!


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The 3rd Kyushu Rainbow Pride

By Ioana and Panda

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The 3rd edition of the annual Kyushu Rainbow Parade/Pride in Fukuoka took place on 6 November in Reisen Park. The event was launched in 2014 by students from University of Fukuoka. Local LGBTQ activist Masahisa Miura (MarriageRings 4 LGBT) has taken over the responsibility of running the Pride since 2015, officially changing its name to Kyushu Rainbow Pride.

Unlike previous years, the Pride event was extended to two days to include the very first Kyushu Queer Movie Festival on the day before the Parade. The event was organized by Rainbow Soup and was attended by around 40 people in Factory Unvelashu (Fukuoka). Four LGBTQ-related movies were screened, followed by a half-hour-long review and talk show. The Out in Japan project was also exhibited at the venue.

The largest LGBTQ event in Kyushu region, the Kyushu Pride continues to attract more and more participants year by year. According to the official statistics, over 6000 people came to the venue, and 450 people walked in the parade. In addition, over 20 LGBTQ-related organizations and LGBTQ-friendly companies sponsored and presented their booths at the venue, including Stonewall Japan.

In addition to our usual Stonewall Japan “line-up” (face-painting and the donation jar), Stonewall member Ashford Kerr came up with many cool new concepts and ideas for the booth, such as the Pride Banner, the Stonewall photo frame, the Genie bucket, musical chairs, etc., which brought a lot of energy to the booth.

Our booth welcomed many new friends as well as some old ones: Stonewall Japan Secretary Ioana from Nagoya, and Stonewall Kyushu South Block Leader George, as well as former Kyushu Block Leader Karmen came all the way from Kumamoto to show their support to the Pride. On top of that, many Stonewall members offered to volunteer at the booth. We are so grateful for everyone’s contribution and devotion!


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Stonewall LGBT+ Atami Weekend Report

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Last weekend, a group of 10 Stonewallers met up for a weekend break in the scenic Atami, Shizuoka. For some it was the first time to come to such an event, and for others, they had particpated in many ‘queer’ events across Japan. Trepidations are understandable when you have planned to share a room and weekend with strangers, but the ‘Stonewall LGBT+ Atami Weekend’ brought like-minded strangers together, and much fun was had…

 

Participants were mainly from the surrounding area of Tokyo, but people as far as Miyagi and Mie came too. We met at Atami station, exchanged names and started on the first sight of our short tour around the city. Our first stop was Kinomiya Shrine which boasts to have the largest tree in Honshu. Despite a stand taking photos, there we met a kind man who was adamant to help us take our group photo.

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Next we went down to the harbor to watch the sun set, and dip our toes into the ocean. As we walked down the hill, zig-zagging through lanes and streets, we were able to see the right out to sea. Arriving at the beach, it was obvious why Atami is a hub for tourists alike; the shore, the sea air, the surfers…

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After , what felt like, a short hike up and train ride to Atami station, we bought some refreshments and took a shuttle bus to the hotel. After checking-in and discovering a free ‘janken-tournament’ [じゃんけん大会] we revised our evening plans and headed to our rooms. Atami is famous for its onsen and it was first on the list for some of us. By this time the first-time-meeting nerves had melted away, and I personally enjoyed relaxing in the many warm baths the hotel had to offer.

 

The buffet dinner seemed to accommodate everyone in the group, so pescetarians and vegans were able to eat. A favorite of mine was the seafood rice dish and plates of sliced steak. The food was pretty darn tasty in general. Straight after dinner we all entered the janken tournament. Despite losing the practice match, out of 60+ hotel guests, I won the game! I do feel a little sorry for the four elderly women I beat though… After that moment, many a hotel guest congratulated me throughout the evening.


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After janken we headed for an hour of karaoke, played some games and chatted in our rooms, and attempted to have a table tennis tournament. I didn’t see any potential Olympic competitors between us, but some of us could play a mean game of billiards and air hockey! As the evening drew to a close, people started to head to beds to sleep.

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The next morning, some of the group headed off early to visit Atami castle, others went back for another dip in the onsen whilst I was locked outside the room on the balcony. Only for a few minutes though! We had breakfast, walked to a viewing spot near the hotel and then headed off back towards Atami station. I came from afar and decided to leave early, but the majority stayed to browse for souvenirs, eat lunch and breathe in the coastal air before they return to their various hometowns. [That may have been stretching the truth a little].

 

Overall, it went better than expected. As one half of the organisers, and someone quite active with Stonewall, I honestly did enjoy spending time with other like-minded people from various parts of Japan. I’ve been to many Stonewall events, and I still enjoy meeting new people, meeting people I’ve spoken to through the Facebook group and or reuniting with those that I haven’t seen in months and years. I hope to see you at the next one, and for those who came, thanks for coming. Last but not least, a big shout-out to Yuki for being the main organiser and instigator of this fab weekend. When’s the next one?  

 

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Stonewallers visited Mie's first ever pride of its kind...

Mie Rainbow Festa – みえレインボーフェスタ

As a gay Caucasian man living in rural Mie, the double minority status can feel quite isolating. This is why the first ever Mie Rainbow Festa (みえレインボーフェスタ), held in Ise last month, was such a joyous day out! Stonewall Japan organised an opportunity for LGBT+ people and their allies to interact with other like-minded people. We watched numerous musical and dance acts, grabbed some local Ise food, and enjoyed meeting some of the most prominent LGBT activists currently working in Japan. 

 

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Organisers Shoichi Yamaguchi(山口颯一), Ichikawa Takeshi(市川武史) and Ota Yuuya(太田有矢) successfully planned and executed it, and as it was in my home prefecture, I had to attend.  A group of Stonewallers met in front of the station, and managed to get to the event just in time for its opening remarks. The prefectural governor, mayor of Ise, and the mayor of Iga said some words along with the organisers. Iga was the first city in the Kansai/Tokai region to recognise same-sex couples, so maybe Ise may get some ideas…

 

Held in the Ise City Plaza, in the centre of Ise, Mie, the venue was full of attendees. The hall was decorated with love-filled messages from local elementary school children, rainbow painted bamboo candle holders and the smiles of supportive friends and family.

 

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We’d seen the event officially start, and then decided to grab some lunch at a nearby restaurant. Whilst we were eating, a panel of distinguished LGBT+ activists had a talk about the current status of LGBT+ equality in Japan. Some stayed behind to watch the discussion. For others, we had a nice catch up with old friends and met some new faces over some delicious food.

 

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After our meal, we returned to the event. The city had really shown its support by decorating the main street that leads from the train station to Ise Shrine (Gekū) with rainbow flags too. We made it just in time to watch some performances from some local musicians and further afield dance groups. Emceed by the drag artist Raira(ライラ), the array of acts was well received with applause. Some special guests included Nijigumi Fight (虹組ファイツ), Rowan, X-ways, NSM = (LIVE) to mention a few. Some emotional words were expressed from the organisers, and the event closed with a group photo. We even managed to speak to Mr. Yamaguchi and grab a photo with him. 

 

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Afterwards, a few of us stayed behind to watch the sun set and get to know each other better. I was exhausted by the end of the day, and slept the whole train ride home. But, I can’t wait till next year! In a country that still has no unambiguous, constitutional protections against homophobic or transphobic discrimination, I am thankful to have been part of this event. Thank you to everyone who came.

Louis

 

Mie Rainbow Festa Details:

HomepageTwitterFacebook

 

 

 

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Yokohama Diversity Parade Recap

On Saturday, October 15th, Stonewall Japan marched alongside TELL Japan in the Yokohama Diversity Parade (横浜ダイバーシティパレード). This year marked the first ever parade in Yokohama that featured a march (hoorah for progress!), and the turnout was fantastic to boot.

The march started at 象の鼻パーク Zou no Hana Park, took us down the city towards Chinatown, and back up alongside the always-beautiful 山下公園 Yamashita Park. The weather was nothing like the crisp autumn day we were expecting; it was perfect with blue skies in every direction.

Our group was even accompanied by the (unofficial) diversity-lover Kaonashi from Spirited Away.


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*Stretches out hands*


As the LGBTQIA+ movement gains further momentum in Japan, we’re truly excited to see this parade grow in size and impact over the coming years.

We would like give a shout-out to TELL Japan for their never-ending support and for allowing us to march with them. TELL is an organisation that provides counselling and mental health support services for Japan’s international community, and was marching on Saturday to raise awareness for the high rate of queer teenage suicides in Japan (and across the globe).

** If you or someone you know needs support, don’t hesitate to contact TELL’s support hotline here.


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Shikoku Stonewall Tour 2nd Stop: Tokushima

This just in! The Tokushima Stonewall event was a success! All hands were on deck for coordinating this event—and that’s what made it special.

The group gathered at 1pm. We leisurely enjoyed a chicken-eating festival. Next, we took a boat ride through interesting parts of the Tokushima city. The breeze and low bridges made things fun. As mid-day began, our group familiarized itself with the Awa-odori dance of Tokushima and its museum. Then, as the sun settled we gathered for our main event, the Mystery Dinner. We had a high number of participants in attendance for this part of our day. Without knowing what foods would be served in our course menu, we indulged. The first restaurant was Mexican-style, second was Mediterranean food (I think), and the third restaurant was a calm, antique-type café that served deserts and espressos—all of the restaurants were LGBT friendly, too. I think the best part of the event was the conversations we had with each other. Many of us had our own unique and well-traveled experiences to share. We look forward to enjoying our next event in Ehime-ken!


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Shikoku Stonewall Tour 1st Stop: Kochi prefecture

For four consecutive months we are having a Stonewall event in each prefecture. In July we had our first stop, Kochi-prefecture. Stonewall contacted some enthusiastic JETs residing in Kochi and the rest was history (hey that rhymes!). On that day, we combined bowling, fine dining at a great burger restaurant, and the exploration of Hirome Ichiba (famous open food market). As the night winded down we visited a friendly gar bar in the area. The owner was nice, friendly, and supplied us with food, plus a nice environment to hang out. The weekend’s success tasted as good as the takaki (seared tuna well-known in kochi)😗.

Thank you to Casey, Erin, and Rowan for making such a fun Stonewall Kochi event possible! ANYone is welcome to our next event; whether you are part of the LGBT community or a noble ally, please come!


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Bowling!
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Kochi’s Hirome Ichiba! A bustling open food market with delicious ice cream and Kochi’s famous product takaki (seared tuna).

Purikura time~
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Stonewall LGBT+ Weekend in Atami!

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※日本語は下にあります。スクロールしてください。

Want to spend a weekend with new LGBT+ friends?
Can you speak conversational English + Japanese?
Stonewall is hosting a bilingual weekend in Atami, so come
and join us for discussions, koyo, onsen, ryokan and more! Come with friends, by yourself, it’s sure to be a nice weekend.

Date: November 5-6th (Saturday – Sunday)
Place: Atami、Shizuoka
Price: TBA (about 10,000円 for 1 night stay + dinner on Sat evening)

Basic Rules:
1.Participants must understand the concept of a safe space, this is an absolute judgment free event.
2. Everyone must respect the different levels of English and Japanese language capabilities of other participants.
3. Participants must be a self-identified LGBTQ member or ally (Important note: Most discussion topics (coming out, career as an LGBT, same-sex marriage) may not be directly relevant to allies and we ask for strict discretion of LGBT participants from everyone.)

Application Process:

a. If you’d like to join us, please fill in this survey…
https://goo.gl/forms/4Xq8PIQo2Fx8X4YV2

b. The deadline for sign-ups are October 9th.

c. All participants must pay the full amount by October 16th.

d. On the morning of November 5th, a group of people from each of Tokyo, Yokohama, Shizuoka and Nagoya regions will arrange to meet up, and head towards Atami.

e. Participants from other regions need to arrange their own travel arrangements.

f. We will all stay at a LGBTQ-friendly place (hopefully a ryokan) with an onsen and have dinner!

g. There will be discussions and group activities throughout the day such as seeing the koyo, and sightseeing (but it’s not mandatory).

h. After check-out on the morning of November 6th, participants should feel free to stay in Atami, make another trip or go home.

Things to note:

Language – The working language will be English; however, important public announcements are also made in Japanese. Conversational level of both languages would be preferable for the purposes of discussion, but not required.

Age – Participants must be at least 20. If you are 18 or 19, however, please contact us and we may be able to accommodate.

Onsen – We understand that some people may not be interested in visiting an onsen or feel they are not suitable for them, so this is an optional activity. An alternate activity is arranged for those who do not wish to go to an onsen.

For any questions or more details, please contact Yuki Shirato at [write.yuki@gmail.com] or Louis Williams at [stonewallsig@ajet.net].

We’re looking forward to meeting you!
Stonewall Japan

 

ストーンウォール日本と熱海!

日程: 11月5日(土)~6日(日)
場所: 熱海
料金: 10,000円程度(1泊1食)

ルール:
1.セーフスペースのコンセプトを遵守
2.  英語での会話に参加(会話レベルは不問)
3.  LGBTQかアライ(ただし、ディスカッションは主にLGBTQメンバー対象。また、LGBTQメンバーのプライバシーを全参加者が遵守)

参加方法:
a. ここで、10月9日までに、基本情報をエントリー!
https://goo.gl/forms/4Xq8PIQo2Fx8X4YV2

b. 10月16日までに全額を振り込み。

c.  11月5日の出発前に再度ご連絡します(東京、名古屋などから集団出発、または個人で交通手配)。

言語:主に英語(ただしレベルは不問)。重要なアナウンスメントは日本語でもあります。

注意事項:
1. 基本的に20歳以上のみ。18、19歳の場合は、個別に連絡ください。

2.温泉は、任意参加。

質問があれば、write.yuki@gmail.comか stonewallsig@ajet.net までEメールください。

たくさんの参加をお待ちしています!
ストーンウォール日本

huffington post

Kitakyushu Rainbow Pride @ Katsuyama Park

Hooray!!! The very first Kitakyushu Pride has successfully ended! Thanks to all the great efforts of the organizers, students of University of Kitakyushu, dozens of NPOs and others. 👏👏

More than 100 participants from different regions in Japan (from Hokkaido to Kyushu) gathered at Katsuyama Park not only to show their pride and support of LGBTQIA+ community but also to send warm and heartfelt messages to those who were suffering from the recent Kumamoto earthquakes.

Participants were divided into three sections:

(1) All for different and all are good 〜みんな違ってみんないい〜

(2) Want to know everyone〜 色々な人がいるってことを知りたい〜

(3) Our lives are free 〜自由に自分らしく生きたい〜

We set off from Katsuyama Park at 2 p.m. and marched around the commercial center of Kokura City for about an hour. Along the way, we’d been waving and greeting to passengers, sending the message of rainbow love. :))

Back to the main venue, we had a group of spectacular performers: drag queens, a famous queer flute player, an openly gay American-Japanese musician, a local queer boyband, … You name it, we’ve got it! Their excellent performances brought loads of positive energy to the pride and springtime!

Hope more to come next year!!! 🙂

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やっぱ愛ダホ in 福岡 (IDAHO in Fukuoka) was held on a bright Saturday, May 21, 2016, @ Kego Park, Fukuoka park to send the ‘rainbow of love’ to everyone present.

Here are some highlights/interesting segments from the event:

– Rainbow Tunes – a billboard featuring information about some queer musicians and queer-related music – from k.d. Lang’s Constant Craving to MIKA’s Celebrate (It is a perfect way to queer up your playlist. Meanwhile, by spotlighting some out musicians it sent a message that you can be queer and successful).

– IDAHO Rainbow Photo Booth – a place where you can capture some your sweet moments with the beautiful rainbow background

– “Yes to Sexual Diversity” message booth – a place to share thoughts on LGBTQIA+ community for a more inclusive world

– Billboard on local LGBTQIA+ organizations/networks

– Pray for Rainbow booth – a charity project in supporting queer people suffering from Kumamoto earthquakes

Looking forward to your visit next year! : )

 

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A man places a photo during a candlelight vigil to mourn victims of the mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, in Tokyo, Japan. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Vigils Across Japan for Orlando Shooting Victims

In the wake of the recent tragedies in Orlando, we thank everybody in the community who has come together and shown your support with us at this difficult time.  For more information about the vigils in Tokyo and Osaka on Saturday 18th June that we are in collaboration in organising, please visit our events page.

Thank you.

 

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REUTERS / Issei Kato

Japan Today /

Japan Times / Daisuke Kikuchi

BuzzFeed / Kazuki Watanabe

Huff Post / Kenji Ando

Asahi Shinbun / 高浜行人