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A new Asian café is now open for business! - for people who are LGBT and for people who aren't

2014.07.12 Momoko Miyahara

 ©Ayumi Onzo (SUPEREYE)
The Asian café, "irodori," opened for business in May.

Good Aging Yells is an incorporated non-profit organization that undertakes a wide range of initiatives to help create a society that is more comfortable for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people. Every summer, they operate the "Colorful Café" in Hayamacho, Kanagawa Prefecture, and they launched an LGBT friendly share house, the "Colorful House," and a running event called the "Colorful Run" in 2013.

And as their next project, they opened Japan's first LGBT friendly complex facility - "Colorful Station" - on May 17 in Jingumae, Shibuya with the hopes of creating an LGBT friendly town. On the first floor of this Colorful Station you will find an Asian café, "irodori." The second floor is an LGBT friendly community space, "FLAT," and there is also a gallery space that takes advantage of the walls in the facility. The Colorful Station is co-operated with K.K. New Canvas. Mr. Fumino Sugiyama, the president of New Canvas, who is dedicated to creating a new platform for all to express individuality, is a former athlete of the Japan women's national fencing team and author of the novel, "Double Happiness" in which he discusses his personal experience with gender identity disorder.

At the Asian café, "irodori," you will find a rainbow colored flag, which represents the LGBT movement, but other than that, you will not find any materials in the relaxing woody environment that explains the concept. Mr. Sugiyama said, "We wanted to change society's awareness by creating a nice café that had great food, that was open to everyone, that just happened to have LGBT staff working there." This café created with the desire to attract all kinds of people regardless of age, sexuality, or nationality also features a homemade wooden chair for kids and a children's book corner making it comfortable for families with children as well. But many people also simply come for the delicious food featuring menus like keema curry with lots of coriander.

"In today's society, the word 'minority' is often used simply because people are different from the majority, making their lives harder. If you're an LGBT, it can even be difficult getting a job. Being an LGBT and poverty is still interconnected. If there is more work available, life will become easier, so at irodori, we try to provide opportunities for work" explained Mr. Sugiyama.


©Ayumi Onzo (SUPEREYE)
Mr. Fumino Sugiyama standing in front of the café.

There are so many different types of people now, but policies and systems in place in Japan have not kept up with this diversity. Numerous western countries have policies in place for same sex marriages and ensure such couples have rights, but Japan's policies, on the other hand, is in need for a reform. But what perhaps is first and foremost important is for each and every one of us, regardless of whether we are LGBT or not, to recognize that "it is only natural to be different." irodori helps us realize this. So if you happen to be in the area, please stop by.

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Tokyo,Japan (Japan

Momoko Miyahara

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