I hope that everyone’s years are off to a good start!

Taku and I have been hanging out as we normally do. After the nine day New Year’s holiday we immediately had another three day weekend, so it was kind of hard to get into the swing of work, but now I’m settled back into a regular routine.

Now for a little fact that anyone, gay or straight, will have to deal with when dating a Japanese guy. I’m sure most people overseas have heard that office workers and business people in Japan put in a lot of overtime hours, but another reality is that you are never actually “off” from work. In general, you are always “on call”, so if someone calls you on your day off and says you have to be at the office now, there’s now way out of it.

Yesterday, Taku got a call from a coworker just as we were getting ready to go to lunch, and just like that, he had to be at work…Taku apologized but I already understood what I was in for dating someone working for a Japanese company…If I get a job in a Japanese company in the future, it’s a reality I’m going to have to deal with first hand as well…Work life balance is not a popular concept here. I’m always worrying about Taku’s well-being because of his tough job…at least when I’m around I can make some nutritious home-cooked meals and lift his spirits!

Anyway, we were able to spend Sunday together, and we went to a pretty stylish hamburger restaurant called “Brooklyn Parlor”, located by Nakasu-Kawabata station in Fukuoka. I couldn’t take any pictures of the inside, but it had a modern lounge-like design with regular tables or couches and coffee tables, and classic photographs and trippy modern art on the walls. There were also both Japanese and English books that you could read.

The best part was the food. I can say without a doubt that I ate the most delicious hamburger I’ve ever had in Japan today. I wasn’t expecting much, but once I tasted it, my 23 years of life in America flashed before my eyes. It actually tasted like something I would have ordered back in the states. Anyone living in Fukuoka should give it a try!

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There’s been a bit of news from the past couple months that might help to give you an idea of where things stand on the LGBT rights front here in Japan.

First is that the Zen Buddhist Shunkoin Temple has begun to advertise the fact that it offers marriage ceremonies regardless of religion and sexual orientation. Of course, same-sex marriage ceremonies have no legal standing, but at the very least, the establishment is doing it’s best to push equality and helping to remind people that “no religion teaches how to hate others.”

To read more about Shunkoin Temple, click here.

Second, CNN also created a short segment regarding the state of LGBT rights in Japan, and in it, the reporter speaks with a priest of Shunkoin Temple, LGBT rights activists, and a gay couple. It’s only two minutes long, so if you have a moment, check it out here.

I hope that the fight for LGBT rights in Japan will continue to gain momentum through 2015 and beyond!

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