Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade 2018: We Are One

Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade 2018: We Are One

Tomo Orihara

The Tokyo Rainbow Pride 2018 Festival began on April 28 and came to a close on May 6 with the much-anticipated parade after 9 whole days of consecutive events around Tokyo and its neighboring wards. Members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies alike took to the streets of Shinjuku donning every color of the rainbow to show pride and unity.

On May 5 and 6, Harajuku Station drummed with footsteps from the heavy foot traffic stepping off of the Yamanote Line train. One could argue that it was just your usual Sunday considering the dense waves of passengers the station welcomes daily; there are people on their way to work, people on a shopping excursion, and tourists sampling what Harajuku has to offer. But, this particular Sunday has set itself apart from all the other ones. The air was electric with lively conversations, and the sun was as warm as the people under it. By their clothes, these people formed a path that would’ve twined The Wizard of Oz’s yellow brick road if only it were rainbow-colored, and the end of it was the source of the merry din: The Pride Festival.

The festivities were already in full swing at Yoyogi Park even hours before the parade. Rows and rows of tented booths occupied the venue. From foods to goodies, social media to tech, and even different organizations and businesses, attendees stopped by their set-ups to try out the services offered or deck themselves out in Pride merchandise. People were coming in and out of Shiseido’s booth for a skin consultation. At Panasonic’s, whose booth matched their corporate colors of black and blue, people lined up for facial hair grooming. Social media titans such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Buzzfeed were also present at the event and had photo booths at their tents. Food trucks and food tents offering selections of desserts and meals—such as ice cream and yakisoba to name a few—enclosed the entire venue. Nearby were eating areas where some people, with their food in hand, rested.

The clock struck 12 and, true to Japanese fashion, the Pride Parade started. Group after group, participants went out to the streets from the Shibuya Exit of Yoyogi Park to share the merrymaking to passersby. With interests piqued, onlookers gathered along sidewalks to take photos and join in on the fun by waving and giving off high-fives. As the parade made its way along Omotesando, Lush employees of the Omotesando branch cheered on from their second-story window. From there, the parade circled back to the venue.

It was almost 3 o’clock in the afternoon when the parade made its way back to Yoyogi Park, and the crowd seemed to have doubled in size. As the temperature rose over time, so did the excitement of the attendees. People still went from booth to booth, stopping only once in a while to take photos; some went for food to recharge. By the time the sun had made its way halfway west, people were positioning themselves around the stage to wait for the headliner. Famous Japanese pop idol, Ayumi Hamasaki went on, much to the crowd’s cheering, and performed fan-favorites.

At around 6 pm, the performance ended; organizations who occupied the booths started to pack up, and the crowd began to disperse. Although the festivities at Yoyogi Park has finished, the night had just begun. The official closing party was held down at Shinjuku Ni-Chome’s AiSOTOPE LOUNGE, and the celebration went on until midnight.