Hello everyone!

Here in Fukuoka, it’s been nothing but day after day of hot, stuffy weather. Everyone just accepts it, drearily wiping their faces and necks with handkerchiefs and towels. This year, I’ve especially not minded the weather, mainly because not working means not putting on dress clothes and commuting in crowded public transportation. Being jobless is a double-edged sword however, since I have all the free time in the world but also have to be very careful about spending my money. I wish I had put aside enough for some sort of cross-country adventure, but instead, I’ve been keeping it low-key here in Fukuoka.

Though I’ve been meaning to get a head-start on my studying, it seems my mind is still in vacation-mode, especially because my friend from America came to visit me for a week. We had a chance to do a lot of sightseeing together. We visited Fukuoka Tower, saw the Wasshoi Hyakuman Summer Festival in Kitakyushu, visited an owl cafe, and went to two beaches (one of which was on an island), among other things. It was a really active week with her here, and after all of the running around, I’ve come to feel much more comfortable in my new city.

Best of all was that Taku finally had a chance to meet one of my friends from the USA. She doesn’t speak Japanese, and Taku doesn’t speak much English, but I was extremely happy to have him interact with one of my treasured friends from my college days. I hope that we can meet her again together if/when Taku and I visit stateside! (It’s bound to happen someday!)

It’s been so nice living closer to Taku since my move. On days when he gets home a bit early, we can spend the evenings together talking, or watching tv and movies. Recently, he been really trying to get me into “Glee”, which I honestly have never watched until last week when Taku rented a bunch of the DVDs and was binge watching them. I was never a fan of American dramas because I consider them to be way too long. I prefer Japan’s system, where after about 10-12 episodes, the series is over. Anyways, I’m a few episodes into the first season now, and I’m starting to see the appeal. I guess I can justify some of it as studying if I try reading the Japanese subtitles.

Taku and I’s other endeavor this summer is trying to get 100% in Super Mario 3D World. Even though neither of us really has had the time to play games seriously as adults, we’re total nerds at heart. I can’t think of any other activity we’ve done where we’re laughing hysterically the whole time. Used as a greater metaphor, we’re learning the importance of perseverance and communication…Thank goodness it’s just a game though, because I cant count the number of times our characters have fallen to their demise due to one of us not listening to each other.

This week is the Obon holiday, so Taku has a long weekend! It will be a nice chance to not be homebodies and go enjoy the events around the city together.

There’s been a bit of progress on the LGBT rights front in Japan.

The two biggest pieces of news recently have been that Setagaya Ward in Tokyo has begun to recognize same-sex relationships in a system similar to the one implemented in Shibuya a few months ago. Also, as reported earlier, Naha City in Okinawa declared its support for LGBT individuals at the “Pink Dot Okinawa” event in July.

Here in Fukuoka, businesses are continuing to see the importance of supporting LGBT people and same-sex couples, with the Fukuoka-based IT company “Pencil” announcing that they will implement rules against discrimination in the workplace as well as recognize and give benefits to those who marry a same sex partner. (I assume that by “marry”, they mean having proof of holding one of the non-legally binding wedding ceremonies that are being increasingly offered these days).

I think it’s fantastic to see Japanese companies beginning to take a stand against discrimination and set a good example for other companies to follow.

Local NPOs have also been continuing their work. The Fukuoka-based LGBT support NPO Rainbow Soup in collaboration with Love Act Fukuoka are currently displaying Kouji Kinoshita’s photo series “Rainbow Peace”, which to my understanding displays LGBT people living openly and happily as a way to give encouragement to those who are closeted or feel that they are alone in their struggles.

I stopped by last Friday evening. The exhibit was a little smaller than I expected, but they also had a photo shoot event last Saturday for those who wanted to be part of it, so perhaps it will expand over the next few weeks. In addition to the exhibit, there were also a lot of LGBT books and magazines (even some in English), and a bunch of informational pamphlets about STDs, testing and safety. There’s still a big stigma about STD testing in Japan so it’s great that these groups are getting the word out.

If you live here in Fukuoka and want to stop by, here’s the info about in English, and the Japanese flyer is below. You can also click the flyer to access the community center’s webpage.

Kouji Kinoshita “Rainbow Peace Exhibit” in Fukuoka
Period: August 6th – August 29th, Thursdays-Sundays
Time: 6:00PM-10:00PM
Cost: Free
Location: Community Center HACO – Fukuoka City, Hakata Ward, Sumiyoshi 4-4-21 (near the gay bar district)
Co-organized by: Rainbow Soup / Love Act Fukuoka

Image courtesy of NPO法人 Rainbow Soup

Image courtesy of NPO法人Rainbow Soup

I hope that these organizations will continue to work on making these kinds of events even bigger and better for the sake of the LGBT community in Japan!

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