Former Gravure model and television personality Ayaka Ichinose (34) and actress Akane Sugimori (28) plan to tie the knot next year in the conservative country’s first celebrity gay marriage. The pair announced that they will hold their wedding ceremony and banquet in April next year.
While there are some famous openly gay celebrities in Japan — perhaps most notably Akihiro Miwa — Ichinose and Sugimori might be the only open LGBT couple in the entertainment industry.
Ichinose came out as a lesbian in 2009, and met Sugimori at a gay bar in Shinjuku, Tokyo in October 2012.
‘We hope gay people will also be able to marry in Japan, and hope our wedding can help promote this goal.’
This news follows the announcement that Hotel Granvia in Kyoto is offering a same-sex weddings service, in cooperation with a local Buddhist temple, joining Tokyo Disneyland in accommodating gay couples who want to marry in Japan.
Japan has a rich gay history, but LGBT rights get short shrift in the mainstream media. Japan’s views on homosexuality are a complex one. Despite artistic cultural exports that shows Japan as being a socially progressive society in regards to gender and sexual expression, the country still struggles with broad legislation that would ensure LGBT equality.