Sometimes getting lost in translation is a beautiful thing.
Japan LGBT rights in Asia have lagged behind other parts of the world, but keep an eye on Japan. Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards now recognize same-sex partnerships, and the city of Iga joined their ranks earlier this year. The Hotel Granvia in Kyoto embraced LGBT couples before the law caught up and began offering same-sex wedding packages in 2014, complete with a traditional Buddhist ceremony at Shunkoin Temple. Visit Tokyo for the eye-popping fusion of Eastern and Western cultures and a sampling of the estimated 200 gay and lesbian bars. Many of them are tiny and tucked away, but Out Asia Travel can provide an introduction into this fascinating world. Venture beyond Japan’s largest city to become immersed in Japan’s rich culture, from Kyoto’s ancient temples and traditional teahouses to Nara City, where the serenity of the shrines is supplemented by freeroaming sika deer that offer kisses to passersby in the town’s central park. For those who love to explore less touristy areas, travel to Shikoku, the least populous of Japan’s four main islands. There you can lounge in romantic onsens (hot springs) overlooking tranquil rivers, and eat fish so fresh they were swimming only moments before hitting your plate. While English-language infrastructure is lacking, the island is known for its 88-temple pilgrimage route and because of this has deservedly earned the reputation of welcoming all travelers. Sometimes getting lost in translation is a beautiful thing.
St. Petersburg, Florida South Florida often grabs the lion’s share of LGBT attention, but don’t overlook this Gulf Coast gem. St. Petersburg’s devotion to individuality serves as a magnet for artists, entrepreneurs, and a sizable LGBT community. The city is home to the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s artwork outside of Spain and enough independent galleries to rival a much bigger metropolis. More than 100,000 participants flock to the downtown Grand Central District for St Pete Pride’s festival and nighttime parade each June, making it the largest Pride event in the state. Central Avenue is home to the bulk of the LGBT nightlife and the popular gay-owned Queen’s Head Eurobar and Restaurant. The 35 miles of powdery white-sand
Shunkoin Temple welcomes same-sex marriages. Credit: Hotel Granvia Kyoto.
beaches running from St. Pete to Clearwater are often ranked among the best in the country. The LGBT sunbathing spot, Sunset Beach, is located west of downtown toward the southern end of Treasure Island between two jetties. It gets busiest on Sundays, after which the crowd migrates to the tea dance at the Flamingo Resort, a sprawling LGBT complex with multiple bars. LoAnn Halden is Communications Director of IGLTA, the leading member-based global organization dedicated to LGBT tourism. To learn about more LGBT-friendly travel destinations, check out our welcoming members at iglta.org. Credit: Jurriaan Teulings.
St Pete Pride throws the largest annual LGBT Pride celebrations in Florida. Credit: Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
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