A place where I can be myself!

How long have you been in Osaka?
I’ve been in Osaka since 2018, but I lived here for one year when I was in university as an exchange student at Kansai Gaidai University. I liked it so much that I moved here after living in Fukuoka for four years.

How did you end up in Osaka?
I was working as an English teacher in Fukuoka for four years. After I left, I wanted to continue teaching in Japan, and I found an opportunity in Osaka. I knew how good the area was from my experience studying abroad, so I jumped at the opportunity and came back again.

What do you like about living in Osaka?
There are a lot of things I really like about living in Osaka. I think the food is really good, and I think the people are really amazing; they are really nice and open and funny, and every time I came to Osaka before I lived here I would just enjoy meeting people, and it became a place I wanted to spend a lot of time.

What does Osaka mean to you? Why did you choose to write your message on the board, that your Osaka is “a place where I can be myself?”
I wrote that because I feel really comfortable being open with the people I meet in Osaka. I can relax and joke around with people, I can be myself and be out as a gay person, I don’t have any issues. The people I am close with are very warm and accepting of me and my identity, so [living here] was definitely one of the better decisions I’ve made in my life.

What does LGBTQ Osaka mean to you? Are there experiences with the community here that you’d like to share?
I like that there is a strong sense of community. There was a time when I was part of an LGBTQ sign language circle. That was really fun, I got to meet a lot of people, and they were very open, accepting, and kind. When I make gay friends in Osaka, I always seem to make an even larger circle of friends. You meet one person, and they know another person that you know, and there are always six degrees or less of separation among LGBTQ people in Osaka.

Do you have any recommended spots in Osaka, queer or not?
Since corona started, I’ve gained an appreciation for outdoor spaces, and I think that Osaka has a lot of really nice outdoor spaces to offer. In the summertime I love just having a beer outside of Grand Front in Umeda, just north of JR Osaka Station. It’s a great spot for people watching and relaxing! I also really like Brooklyn Coffee Roasters in Kitahama, it has great caffeinated beverages, really good sweets, and a really nice view of the river. And the birds that always come to try and nibble on your food are really cute.
As for queer spots, I really liked Explosion but unfortunately because of the pandemic it’s still closed [as of December, 2021.] The other one I really enjoy is Grand Slam, it’s a really nice bar, and it’s still open! They have really nice staff.

Do you have any advice for LGBTQ travelers coming to Japan and Osaka?
I think that people visiting Osaka may already know this, but Osaka is an amazing place for not only the things it offers but also for its proximity to other traditional areas like Nara and Kyoto. If you are traveling here it is also definitely worth a quick trip to other areas to see the more traditional aspects of the Kansai region.