To celebrate Bump’s 100th episode, host Charlie David has his sights set on one of the biggest capital cities in the world, with 30 million people packed into one beautiful place. It’s a stylish and mind-blowing metropolis, perfectly mixing modern luxury with centuries of tradition. Join Charlie as he explores the hidden markets, temples, and nightlife that makes Tokyo a world class destination.
MORE VIDEO Below – read on!
From Geisha girls with painted faces, to stern businessmen clad in suits (their days spent behind a desk and nights behind a bar, Sapporo in hand) to young men celebrating with style a new spirit of gay liberation emerging in this conservative culture, Tokyo is a place of vast contradictions. There are colossal towers that paint the skyline with splashes of neon, and there are quaint cherry-blossom-lined streets where a visitor can meander into the capital city’s remarkable history. There are enough Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines to keep you bowing for weeks, and street vendors serving bowls of steaming noodles to ladies in kimonos, elbow to elbow with a family from Brisbane.
You’d be remiss to miss Shibuyu, one of Tokyo’s most colorful and busy districts and ground zero for many of Japan’s fashion and entertainment trends. Much like Times Square in New York City, Shibuya boasts a large intersection heavily decorated with neon advertisements and immense video screens. Thousands of pedestrians cross the intersection in every direction each time the traffic light turns green. To simply swim through the stream is to experience being a Koi fish in the crowded pond of this metropolis.
The gay scene here is a like an ever spinning Yin Yang insignia. There is a duality of calm and chaos and of ambiguity and asserted identity. There is a famous proverb in Japanese – the tall nail gets hammered down – essentially this is a metaphor for blending in, following the mores and norms of the society and not drawing attention to oneself. Sounds like a complete contradiction for the average gay person doesn’t it? It’s not that the Japanese are heavily burdened with religious pressure to maintain straight identities. In Buddhism, the focus is The Way, essentially do no harm, and sex in any form is not forbidden so long as it is not degrading to oneself or another.
Shintoism is a nature religion, and so anything found naturally occurring in the world or with animals is considered sacred — homosexuality included. There are no deities and so no entity to incite judgment, only the pure reflection of nature herself. So in this peaceful and enlightened place what is it that keeps the LGBT of Japan closeted? The family unit. There is such an ingrained focus on family that many modern gay people will live a homosexual life in their twenties, but once they approach their thirties enter into a heterosexual marriage and start a family.
I was fascinated to learn that with Samurai, the infamous warriors of Japan, it was common to have gay lovers. The most obvious reason being that it was a group of military men training and going into combat together. Long periods of time without female companionship lead the way to the most obvious form of love and sexual release — with one another. Many of the Samurai would maintain an ‘assistant’ relationship with a lover even once settled with a wife. Pretty cool, right?
Straight by day, gay by night, most gay Tokyoites discreetly become their true selves within the comfort of the Ni-Chome district, which is believed to have the highest concentration of gay bars anywhere in the world. This could be because the area is small and densely packed into just a few blocks, and most of the bars are like private clubs — with a capacity of 10 to 20 people. Many of these are invitation-only, so it’s good to make a friend quickly upon arrival if you desire entré into this hidden world. I’m sure you’ll have no problem with that, right? After all, making new friends is one of the greatest pleasures for a world traveler! I’m off to meet a few new handsome faces myself… catch me if you can!
Where in the world is Charlie?http://twitter.com/CharlieDavid
Canadian Viewers: Season 5 Tuesdays at 8 & 8:30 PM on http://videos.outtv.ca/st/bump
American Viewers: Full episodes available on demand at http://www.logotv.com/shows/bump/series.jhtml