Fumino Sugiyama, co-chairperson of Tokyo Rainbow Pride
It’s Pride Month and to celebrate, we’ve invited the co-chairperson of Tokyo Rainbow Pride, Fumino Sugiyama, to talk us through what has become one of Asia’s largest LGBTQ+ related events! Fumino gives us the inside scoop on what kind of events are held, how travellers can join in future celebrations as well as the things he’s most proud of in his journey so far.
Hello! Thank you for joining us. To start us off, please tell us a little about yourself. How did you come to be involved in Tokyo Rainbow Pride?
My name is Fumino Sugiyama and I serve as the co-chairperson of Tokyo Rainbow Pride (TRP). My responsibilities include managing events and delivering lectures throughout the country, with a focus on promoting LGBTQ awareness.
I have been actively involved with TRP since 2013. To raise awareness of the Pride Parade and support the LGBTQ community, I initiated an event called ‘Tokyo Rainbow Week’, separate from TRP, and assumed the role of its representative. Rather than limiting our efforts to a single-day parade, we advocated for a week-long festival during which the Japanese holiday period ‘Golden Week’ would become ‘Rainbow Week’. This allowed us to host a variety of activities such as sporting events, film festivals, and conferences. In 2015, Pride Parade and Tokyo Rainbow Week merged to form Tokyo Rainbow Pride, and I became its co-chairperson.
As a transgender man and former member of the Japanese women’s fencing team, I also hold directorial positions with both the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) and the Japan Fencing Association (JFA), where I work to promote diversity within the sporting world.
In my personal life, I am a proud father to two children, aged two and four. My partner gave birth to our children through IVF after receiving a sperm donation from a gay friend.
The Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade, 2023
For those who are unfamiliar, how would you describe Tokyo Rainbow Pride? When is it and what is there to do?
Tokyo Rainbow Pride is an annual event that takes place in Tokyo and celebrates the LGBTQ community in Japan through a Pride Parade and other festivities.
The duration and timing of the event vary from year to year, but the Pride Festival typically spans two days and is held at Yoyogi Park in Shibuya, Tokyo. The venue is lined with booths from various companies and organisations, and the stage features live performances by artists and drag queens, screenings of LGBTQ-related works, and speeches from ambassadors representing different countries and political parties of all persuasions.
The main event, the Pride Parade, takes place on the second day and sees participants marching through the streets of Shibuya and Harajuku.
A glance at the many booths at Pride Festival in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo
Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2023 just ended earlier this May - please tell us about it! What was new this year and how did it go?
TRP2023 took place from April 22nd to May 7th under the theme ‘Press on Until Japan Changes’.
This year's events featured over 200 booths at Yoyogi Park and attracted approximately 240,000 visitors over the course of two festival days. With the G7 summit being held in Japan this year, ambassadors and embassy officials from 25 different countries, as well as pride event organisers from across Japan, attended the event, making it a success both domestically and internationally.
What were some of your personal highlights from the 2023 and/or previous Tokyo Rainbow Pride events?
It is always a sight to see Yoyogi Park filled with so many smiling faces. This year, we were honoured to have the 93-year-old proprietress, or 'mama-san' in Japanese, of a legendary gay bar take the stage. At the same time, I also noticed many newborn babies of same-sex couples at the venue. It was truly moving to witness such a broad range of generations in attendance - a testament to how far we have come and the impact of our efforts and activities.
Yoyogi Park during the 2 days of the Pride Festival
What are you most proud of as an organiser at Tokyo Rainbow Pride?
I am incredibly proud of the team that organises TRP. Coordinating a single event while incorporating a diverse range of opinions is no small feat. Despite facing criticism at times, the team consistently maintains a positive attitude and approaches each challenge with sincerity.
How can travellers to Japan get involved in the parade?
Anyone is welcome to participate in the TRP parade! This year, registration took place at the venue on the day of the event, but the process varies from year to year, so it is best to check our website for details. You can also watch the parade from the roadside - just be mindful that you do not block the passage of passers-by!
Fumino and other Tokyo Rainbow Pride organisers leading this year's Pride Parade
What advice would you give to LGBTQ+ visitors planning their first trip to Japan?
While Japan still has much progress to make in terms of LGBTQ-related legislation, travellers need not worry about their safety in Japan. Furthermore there are many LGBTQ-friendly hotels and restaurants to choose from.
Outside of Tokyo Rainbow Pride, are there any other places or experiences in Japan that you would recommend to LGBTQ+ visitors?
Shinjuku Nichome, one of the largest LGBTQ towns in Asia, and Pride House Tokyo, a permanent LGBTQ center, are both well worth a visit. For recommended spots in Shinjuku Nichome, I'd recommend checking out this article (here in English or for the latest article in Japanese, here).
Additionally, pride events are held in approximately 30 locations nationwide, from Hokkaido to Okinawa. Be sure to explore the unique local pride of each area!
The theme of this year's Tokyo Rainbow Pride event was 'Press on till Japan changes'
Thank you for talking with us!
For more travel information as well as our top recommended places for LGBTQ+ travellers, check out our other blog post on LGBTQ+ Friendly Japan here.