Topic: Queer culture and sexual space in Tokyo, and their interaction with formal and informal mainstream cultural institutions, through the lens of linguistic anthropology.

  • Queer culture is not yet accepted as mainstream in Japan, which still has heteronormative and bourgiosie family strucure as the default
  • But queer acceptance is making headway through general regard for empathy which I will examine as “Amae”
    • Idea that Japanese society operates on a culture of “openness” and “reliance,” a stronger motivation than capitalism for Japan yet
    • Recently enshirned queer legislation (legal change in gender, same-sex marriage) includes these types of language that emphasize “harmony” and “acceptance” and “feelings of safety”—both a win in that mainstream Japan is willing to accomodate queer people, but also at the cost of normalizing and harmoginizing a diverse set of identities
  • Queer people and organizations have mixed feelings about this. On one hand this is celebrated, but on the other hand it also opens up different avenues of exclusion, based on “making people uncomfortable.”
    • Queer organizations in Tokyo have existed for long. In most cases it is transgender women or effeminate gay men
      • Established neighborhoods like Shinjuku-nicho-me
    • Queer people have always sought a space, but in a different way than the western narrative of “moving to the city where one can be free”—the city to most Japanese queer people is still repressive and harmoginizing
      • There is simultanous desire to be free from this harmoginizing force and also to be accepted into the mainstream
    • Queer celebrities have been on mainstream television (Matsuko Deluxe) but have been if not controversial, made fun of
      • The responses of these queer people to such legislation cause


  • 三橋順子 Mitsuhashi Junko—新宿 「性なる街」の歴史地理 “Shinjuku’s History and Geography of A Sexual Neighborhood”
  • 土居健郎 Doi Takeo—Amae no Kouzou
  • Yue, Leung—Notes towards the queer Asian city
  • Graham Kolbeins—Queer Japan