Step into a new world.
With over 300 bars crammed into the size of a football field, Shinjuku Nichome is the densest gay bar district in the world. In recent years, it's gained popularity worldwide as a landmark of LGBT culture in Japan, but visiting tourists often don't make it beyond the five or six most visible bars and clubs. That's because all the unique, narrow snack bars here are windowless, with heavy doors, and even Shinjuku locals could have no idea what might lay inside each one.
It's not easy to simply wander into any bar that catches your eye - Only true regulars here can break into the community and find the real nichome. That's why we explored over fifty bars and found the bar mamas who provide the best hospitality and entertainment to their guests.
Meet the handsome boys
Course Leader & Photographer
Born and raised in West Tokyo, Naoki's blood is a delicate mixture of ramen, sake and Red Bull. You're more likely to find him in a cramped izakaya in Nishi-Ogikubo than a club in Shibuya. When researching Nichome in his gender studies course, he first visited as an assignment, but soon found that there was no better place to enjoy the genuine Tokyo nightlife in an open and active LGBT community. As for what happened with his research... let's leave that one lost to history.
Tour Guide & Super Translator
He first came to Tokyo in 2014 on an exchange program to Waseda University, but when found that he wouldn't have a place to stay before his dorm opened, he found himself at Naoki's airbnb sharehouse on his first ever night in Japan. Moved by Naoki and his friends' hospitality and eagerness to show the Tokyo they know and love, he soon started accompanying them when other guests would visit, and soon enough he and Naoki were working together on Tokyo tours.