Shinjuku Nicho-me in Tokyo is Japan’s most renowned gay area. In a mere 300-meter square area, there are approximately 300 gay and lesbian bars and clubs. But not all of them are only for the gay community. At a bar called “ArcH,” the doors are open to men and women, straight and gay. It’s a place that aims to be a bridge to connect people regardless of gender or sexuality.

The bar can accommodate 150 customers, but when a popular event is held even on weekdays, there are usually about 200 people. On the opening anniversary day nearly 1,000 came. For gay customers the bar is a great place to meet others like themselves, while straight customers generally come to experience a different world and enjoy shows.

One of the most popular events hosted at ArcH, which is held about once every four months, is “Akiba Night.” Akihabara, or “Akiba” for short, is a famous electronics district of Tokyo that has also built a worldwide reputation as a mecca for Japanese subculture. At “Akiba Night,” anime, TV and game theme music is played, and performers and dancers in flashy costumes take part in a cosplay contest. There are also people decked out in anime cosplay.

The organizer of the event, shimanyuu, says: “Using anime as the common denominator, I wanted to create a place where everyone can have fun together.” In this event, anime represents the bridge that ArcH aims for.

As the host of Akiba Night, Margarette is another individual looking forward to this event. Though he is a leading figure in the Japanese drag queen community, he volunteered to be the host of Akiba Night.

At the “Living Together Lounge” held every first Sunday of each month, live music and recitations are preformed to convey the message: “People with HIV and people without HIV all live together.”

ArcH: http://www.clubarch.net/

Text: SUGAWARA Mizuho

[From January Issue 2010]