METROPOLIS | CLASSIFIEDS | PERSONALS | JOBS
LIFE IN JAPAN
Yoichi Hayase

Yoichi HayaseOccupation:
President, True Travel K.K.

Time in Japan:
All my life






Where are you from?
Born and bred in Tokyo.

What do you do?
I run the first and only gay travel agency in Japan, True Travel.

Tell us more about it.
The word "true" comes from the expression "be true to yourself." I wanted gay people to at least be true to themselves when they go on vacation without worrying about their neighbors or co-workers. We started the company in November and business has been up and down. Our first tour that we organized was the Mardi Gras tour in Sydney. It' the largest gay event in the world and we had many people who went. I'm sure that there are many gay Japanese who wanted to go but didn't know how to get the tickets due to the language barrier or other obstacles. We feel that these people can benefit from the services we provide. Our first tour just finished and it was a success.

What made you start this business?
I've always been interested in doing business for the gay and lesbian audience. In the US or Australia, there are gay travel agencies, banks, hospitals, etc., and I knew that business targeted towards this audience would catch on in Japan.

Was it difficult at first?
We thought that it would be harder. The major obstacle we came across was hiring someone to help the business out. I tried to advertise in The Japan Times, but they would not run an ad with the word "gay." I then started to do my own PR by calling the media. There was only one very mainstream magazine that turned us down, claiming that they couldn't do an article on us because there was no space or section for such things.

What other tours or events do you do and what are you planning for the future?
We are organizing a tour for Gay Day at Disney World and Disneyland, where about 500,000 gay people from all over the world go to those theme parks during the same week. The New York and San Francisco parade tours are also very popular. As for individual travel, we have a large list of gay hotels and accommodations. We can take care of small details such as asking for a double bed instead of a twin. One interesting package that we put together is a gay wedding, where you can have a ceremony in Hawaii, on the beach or in a church.

Do you think that a wedding like this would be possible in Japan?
I don't think so. The Japanese do not deny that there are gay people in Japan but will not encourage gay people to come out. It's not like people are throwing stones at us, they're just indifferent.

How do you think the gay community in Japan is changing?
I don't think I'm in the position to speak about the whole gay community but I can certainly talk about the travel business. JTB, the world's biggest travel agency, actually organized one gay tour about five years ago to see the New York gay parade. But a Japanese weekly publication wrote an article saying that this tour was a disgraceful and hideous thing to do. After that, JTB didn't ever want to get involved again. They hadn't anticipated such a violent action from the media. Five years later, we popped into the market, contacted the media, and many publications did write us up and there haven't been that many outbursts.

How about domestic travel?
We have been receiving a lot of inquiries, especially from overseas, but now we are looking for gay-friendly accommodations and ryokan. We need these partners to put together a tour, so I hope we can find good people to work with.

What's the one thing a person should see or experience in Japan before leaving forever?

Spend one day as a typical Japanese salaryman-get on a crowded train with a cheap suit, get bullied by OLs and throw up on the last train-so that you won't have any regrets about leaving Japan forever.

What's your advice for a successful life in Japan?
Always remember why you left your home country in the first place.

Contact Yoichi at hayase@truetravel.net or 03-3563-1166, or see www.truetravel.net

Yoichi Hayase spoke to Maki Nibayashi.


Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at maki@tokyoclassified.com

LIFE IN JAPAN:
360: Gustavo Marchesi
Professional tango dancer
355: Alec McAulay
Filmmaker
352/3: Mary Frenzel
Professional singer / songwriter, bandleader & voice instructor
350: Kate Smurthwaite
Bond analyst and aspiring novelist
349: Tim Spangler
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
348: Robin Rozzell
Tribal Nation Security
347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
Advocate
345: Chris Chavez
Dancer/Singer
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
Artist, freelance graphic design and illustrator
342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
Missionary / Teacher
328: Ed Durbrow
Musician
327: Isabelle Maranda
Marketing Coordinator
326: Brian Marcus
Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
325: David Baran
Managing Partner, Compass Partners
324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
Drummer
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
Cellist
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
Researcher
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel
Bartender

Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199