Kansai Rainbow Festa
Good food, good people and a fun-loving atmosphere... exactly what the region is known for.
- 2019 Dates: Oct. 12 and Oct. 13
- Performances start from 11 a.m. both days. The parade starts at 12:40 p.m. on Oct. 13
- Ogimachi Park - Map
Every October since 2006, the gray concrete metropolis gets painted rainbow to celebrate the Kansai Rainbow Festa.
Osaka is one of Japan’s few places where a prominent LGBTQ movement is on the come up. Doyamacho, the Kansai region’s gay district, is located near Osaka’s central business hub and Osaka was the first city in Japan to allow same-sex couples to foster children.
However, both the city and the nation have a long way to go when it comes to the recognition and rights of the LGBT community.
Kansai Rainbow Festa & parade
The Kansai Rainbow Festa, one of the biggest of its kind in Japan, is an all-day (and sometimes weekend-long, depending on the year) event helping to bring acceptance and awareness. Plus, it’s a great time.
The event was initially deemed the Kansai Rainbow Pride Parade (like the Tokyo pride event each spring) and simply featured a spirited march from beautiful Nakanoshima to the busy Namba. Bystanders looked on with a mixture of confusion and curiosity at this flamboyant and unusual display of queerness in a country where such a thing isn’t hated so much as not flaunted or even really discussed.
What started with several hundred participants now welcomes over 10,000 attendees annually and takes place in Ogimachi Park. The yearly march both starts and ends in the park, with performances and events before and afterward. Paraders show off by strutting down the famous Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street and shakin’ it by popular amusement center HEP 5 in Umeda.
Anyone can join the parade, which had over 700 participants in 2017. Paraders dress in drag, wear colorful wigs, sport rainbow-colored accessories and carry signs. There is a zone for those who don’t want to be photographed, though the number of people who opt for this area grows smaller every year. To join the parade all you have to do is show up on the day itself.
In addition to the parade at Kansai Rainbow Festa, there are performances, food stalls, and information booths. One performance you don’t want to miss is Osaka’s “Obaachan Group,” a group of rapping grannies where the members are in their 60s.
Their leopard print laden rap video garnered them worldwide recognition in 2018 when they welcomed members of the G20 Summit to Osaka. For the 2019 event, the buoyant group will be on at 1:55 p.m. on Oct. 13.
Local establishments like lesbian bar WaaGwaan serve up vegan food. Hotel Granvia Kyoto hosts a same-sex marriage consultation booth and others offer legal help, job hunting advice, information about gay travel and lessons in sign language about LGBT topics.