5 Things You Should Know About Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2019
Celebrate from April 25 to May 6.
- The 2020 Tokyo Pride Festival which was scheduled to take place between April 25 and May 6 has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
1. Tokyo Rainbow Pride basics: who, what, where, when
Let’s start with the event itself.
The Tokyo Rainbow Pride (TRP) committee will host LGBTQ+ events across the Tokyo metro area from April 25 to May 6, in addition to general merrymaking in the queer parts of Tokyo (like Shinjuku Ni-Chome).
At Yoyogi Park area, the main event is a pride parade that starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 26. There is also a 2-day stage event featuring drag, shows and music on April 25 and April 26. Most exciting is that TRP falls on Golden Week this year, so nobody has an excuse not to party with pride.
2. Pride beginnings were humble
The first Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade was 26 years ago on Aug. 28, 1994. It consisted of 1,000 brave activists who marched from Shinjuku Central Park to the now-closed Miyashita Park in Shibuya. While significant, the first year of the parade was not the lively shindig it is today. In fact, Tokyo didn’t even host the event yearly in the 90s and 2000s, with other major cities like Osaka and Sapporo frequently taking up the torch. (Today these cities host their own annual events: Kansai Rainbow Festa and Sapporo Rainbow Pride.)
The event beyond the parade didn’t really get its start until 2012. In recent years, TRP has become a formidable gathering of Japanese LGBT+ culture, with last year’s event hosting more than 150,000 people, according to numbers by the Asahi Shimbun.
And now in 2019, queer culture in Japan has the most exposure it’s ever had. With same-sex couples suing the government for equality; a Japanese lesbian couple traveling the world to gain exposure on how same-sex marriage here still do not grant the same legal rights; and Japan will even see its own episodes of Queer Eye coming this year on Netflix. Though exposure is a great start, acceptance in Japan is still on the horizon.
3. TRP parade is set to have record-breaking attendance
The parade is an absolute must-see if you can only do one thing for pride. Compared to its humble beginnings, this parade is expected to be the biggest yet, with 52 groups pre-registered! Last year, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported that a record 7,000 people marched.
The parade starts at 2 p.m. and will circulate through Shibuya and Harajuku. If you’d like to join the parade, report to Yoyogi Koen (the “tree-lined path” area) one hour before the parade starts (i.e. 1 p.m.). No prior registration is necessary this year, a major change from previous years.
Keep in mind that this is a family-friendly parade (no “skimpy clothing,” i.e. underwear), and drinking is also discouraged. But don’t worry too much — there is plenty of adult fun to be had the rest of the week.
4. TRP stage will rock even harder this year
The fun really gets going with stage events at Yoyogi Park on Saturday, April 25 and Sunday, April 26. While the official timetable for the stage events is TBA, the line-up is impressive.
April 25 headlines with M-Flo, who are remixing their 2018 hit “No Question” just for TRP, along with other drag and human rights events, like the Tokyo Pride Symposium from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. On April 26, even more musicians will take the stage, like Wednesday Campanella, Aoyama Thelma, and Nakamura Ataru, all of whom have millions of views on YouTube.
Also, be sure to check out the booths near the stage area for some cute merch from TRP sponsors. A few of this year’s sponsors and media partners include SoftBank, Sega, Japan Post, and BuzzFeed Japan.
5. Stay ready to party at Pride Week events
There are dozens of events taking place over Pride Week, and they are so varied everyone can have fun. There are workshops and lectures (in Japanese), as well as family events like the LGBTQ Family Picnic on May 1 in Gyoen Park at 12 p.m.
With all of the events, participants, and parties, it’s sure to be the best Tokyo Rainbow Pride ever (until we have even more fun next year). Have fun, be proud, and be safe.
Article by Alex Rickert, GaijinPot’s LGBTQ correspondent.