The world's first guidebooks to gay and lesbian life in East Asia have just been updated and expanded to include contemporary attractions and entertainment for homosexuals in 46 cities including Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei.
While Japan has had gay guidebooks circulating since the 18th century (and even a modern guidebook to gay life designed for Japanese heterosexuals), it is only recently that the English-speaking international traveler has gained access to the Japan's vibrant subculture.
he Utopia Guide to Japan (2nd Edition) blasts away popular misconceptions that Japan is prohibitively expensive and is unfriendly to foreigners. On the contrary, after suffering from more than a decade of economic flatlining, Japan is cheaper to visit than most major American cities. The current warm welcome for foreigners (and their loose change) is evidenced by English signage posted almost everywhere you go, including signs in Japanese saunas cautioning against "hair dyeing and gum chewing."
Where exactly is the shrine to the 2-ton wooden phallus? Do Love Motels allow same sex couples? Which lesbian bars welcome foreign women? The fascinating answers are to be found in the 128 page Utopia Guide to Japan, including photographs and maps.
South Korean men, with their natural machismo and easy-going metrosexuality, have recently become sex symbols around the region.
Their special brand of brotherly "skinship" appeals to both sexes.
Korea's younger generation has cast off the conservative mentality of their parent's generation.
There have never been laws proscribing homosexuality and any attempts to enact official discrimination have been overturned through the efforts of vocal gay and human rights activists.
"Korea is not a closed society as the world often imagines," says Ted Park, a passionate entrepreneur who opened Seoul's first publicly promoted gay bar.
"Koreans are very open minded and friendly, yet quite conservative sexually, whether straight or gay. Legally we are well protected.
Children are taught about homosexuality in elementary school and we have laws against discrimination based on sexuality."
How to find the Erotic Art Museum in Seoul? Just what goes on at a Jjimjilbang? Which gay saunas do "don't ask don't tell" G.I.s occasion? Find out in the new edition of the Utopia Guide to South Korea.
Taiwan may have Asia's most liberal society in spite of its Confucian underpinnings. It is also one of the most progressive Asian nations as far as LGBT rights are concerned. Not only does the government of Taipei print up its own free guide to the gay community, but children are taught about homosexuality and tolerance for sexual minorities in school.
Last year, Taipei's mayor helped to fly a gay rainbow flag over City Hall during the annual 2006 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender festival.
The Utopia Guide to Taiwan celebrates the social advances being made and collects together all the varieties of Taiwan's gay and lesbian life in one handy directory to a dozen cities.
All of Utopia's guidebooks compile contact details for organizations and businesses that are popular with both local and visiting homosexuals, including accommodation, bars, discos, spas, and restaurants.
A special section of each book highlights groups, clubs, and spaces that are especially welcoming for women.
Best of all, each book contains dozens of tips and warnings from locals and travelers who, in their own words, provide first hand insights for both frequent visitors and armchair explorers.
The three books are available for sale now in print and E-book form at http://www.utopia-asia.com/utopiaguide/ and in bookstores internationally and from popular online book resellers.
A pioneer on the Internet, Utopia has been
"These fun pages dish out the spice on even the most buttoned-up spots in
"A really good place to start looking for information... excellent coverage of gay and lesbian events and activities across
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Utopia Guide to Japan (2nd Edition)
Retail prices: US$18.50 6" X 9" softcover, $8. E-book
2 maps and 32 photographs
Select addresses in Japanese language
link to cover image: http://www.utopia-asia.com/pix/japan07.jpg
Utopia Guide to
map and 16 photographs
Select addresses in Korean language
link to cover image: http://www.utopia-asia.com/pix/korea07.jpg
Utopia Guide to
Retail prices: US$17.95 6" X 9" softcover, $8. E-book
map and 21 photographs
Select addresses in Chinese languagelink to cover image: http://www.utopia-asia.com/pix/taiwan07.jpg