Ameagari: Interviewing with Yukari

The World of Free Newspapers

Ameagari. Since its launch in July 2018, it has been published twice a year, up to the 10th issue (as of June 2023).

Continuing our series exploring the world of free papers, following “CHANGE” and “PASSION”, the third theme is “DIVERSITY”. This time, we spoke with Ms. Yukari, who launched Ameagari in 2018. Described as a “free magazine where one can learn about various ways of life through diverse genders” it has been published twice a year since its inception. Each issue features meticulous interviews aligned with themes such as “Dreams,” “Marriage,” “Transparency,” and “Confession.”


A free paper creating mostly alone

──You launched Ameagari in July 2018. What made you decide to start a free paper?

Previously, when I went to Canada on a working holiday, I had a friend there who identified as X-gender and was creating a free paper. Being a member of the LGBTQ community myself and having studied photography in university, we talked about creating a free paper together when we returned to Japan.

──So, you started it together with that friend?

Yes, but after my friend returned home, they fell ill, and I ended up doing it alone. We had also started crowdfunding to raise funds, so I felt like there was no turning back. Despite being part of the LGBTQ community myself, I wasn’t really involved in the LGBTQ community and didn’t have many acquaintances there. While I knew about the term LGBTQ, being a lesbian myself, I had questions like, “What kind of people are LGBTQ?” and wanted to hear from various people. Since I enjoy writing and was interested in interviews, I’ve been able to continue.

──So, you handle everything from planning to interviews, writing, and layout all by yourself?

I have two people helping with the layout, but mostly it’s just me (laughs). Because I’m alone, I also set the theme for each issue based on my interests, but when I don’t have ideas, I sometimes ask people around me, “Do you have any themes you want to know about?” In the early days, there were few people willing to accept interviews, so sometimes I would decide on the theme after finding someone to interview.

Ms. Yukari, editor-in-chief of Ameagari.

──I heard that the current circulation of Ameagari is 3,000 copies. With Ameagari becoming known, are new communities centered around magazines also emerging?

Yes, that’s right. We also hold events irregularly. For example, we have events where we advertise novels, and we host gatherings for novel enthusiasts to interact with authors. We also held LGBTQ online events with the theme of “rural and urban,” where we discussed the challenges and livability of different places. Before the pandemic, we used to meet face-to-face as well.

──It’s indeed one of the joys of continuing to create a magazine, becoming a hub for information and communication. Have there been any particularly memorable reactions from readers?

It was heartwarming to hear from members of the community that they were glad to learn about lifestyles they hadn’t considered before. Also, we’ve received feedback from people in their 80s or older, saying, “I learned about these kinds of people, and it was educational.” While those adept at using the Internet can connect through social media and access information easily, those who aren’t may not have such opportunities. It made me realize that because it’s in print, it reaches people who wouldn’t otherwise come across this information, reaffirming the value of creating a free paper.

──In the interviews, there are some technical terms, but I felt a welcoming atmosphere where anyone could understand. The text was also in a larger font size, making it easy to read.

We are conscious of reaching a wide range of people, so we intentionally choose cover photos and designs that don’t necessarily look LGBTQ-themed, making it easier for anyone to pick up. We hope that those who feel they are struggling in life can find some relief and that it reaches as many people as possible.

Cover photo of Ameagari issue 4. Ms. Yukari has taken all the cover photos for each issue.
The theme of the latest issue, the 10th edition (published in March 2023), is “Work.” In addition to introducing job hunting and various work styles through interviews with three groups, articles collaborated with Kokuyo Co., Ltd. are also featured. Members met at Kokuyo’s workshops also participated in the editing process.

Someday, when the rain clears

──Continuing mostly alone until the 10th issue must not have been easy. Do you have any secrets to keep going? Also, could you tell us about the production costs?

I think the “desire to learn” is probably the biggest factor. Even within the “LGBTQ” community, each person’s way of life and thoughts are completely different. So, with each interview, there are new encounters and discoveries, which makes it enjoyable. In addition, there are still many societal challenges, so I continue with the hope that some of these difficulties can be alleviated. As for production costs, they are mostly covered by advertising and are allocated to printing and shipping expenses.

──Have there been any words or encounters from people you’ve met through your work that have left a lasting impression?

Although I haven’t written about it in an article because it happened before I started Ameagari, I once met a gay man who told me, “My parents are strict, so I will never come out to anyone around me. I will take my sexuality to the grave.” He felt like a “transparent” existence, hiding himself. Those words were very shocking to me. Personally, I was fortunate to have understanding people around me, so when I said I liked women, it was often met with a simple “Oh, I see.” I hadn’t really struggled with my sexuality. That’s why those words struck me deeply.

──It’s been five years since the launch, and there have been recent changes in society, such as the passage of the LGBT Bill (Act on Promote Understanding of LGBT, passed on June 16, 2023). How do you perceive these changes in society?

While society is certainly changing little by little, as a member of the LGBTQ community, I personally feel that the situation hasn’t changed much. For example, I recently purchased a house with my partner whom I live with, but the partnership system had no effect whatsoever. It was also quite a challenge to secure a housing loan as a same-sex couple.

In Tokyo, the paper is available at ONLY FREE PAPER (Meguro-ku), loneliness books (Shinjuku-ku), among other locations.
You can also read all issues on the official website. (in Japanese)

──So, it seems that laws and systems haven’t caught up yet.

But we can’t just wait because our lives are moving forward. While I didn’t have any desire to get married before, after living with my partner for a long time, we started discussing buying a house. And in the future, we might consider having children, and as we get older, health issues may arise. Things that are simple for many people don’t necessarily progress easily for us, and it takes time, effort, and money.

──On the other hand, in the 10th issue, there was collaboration with Kokuyo Co., Ltd. to create articles, and we’re seeing efforts to promote diversity at the corporate and municipal levels.

There are limitations to what individuals can do, so I’m glad to see such initiatives. I believe we’re still in the process of change, but I hope that discussions about sexuality will gradually become more “commonplace”.

──In an interview in Ameagari, someone mentioned, “It would be great if someday, talking about sexual orientation becomes as casual as discussing blood types.” It’s certainly an intriguing vision. Do you have any plans for future developments?

Firstly, the main goal is to keep going, but I also want to involve more people in the magazine, such as collaborating with companies as we did in the 10th issue. I’d like to incorporate fresh ideas, like creating new sections.
Ultimately, my ideal scenario is for the term LGBTQ itself to disappear, and for the topics covered in Ameagari to become common knowledge, where everyone says, “Oh, I know about that all,” in the world.

Ms. Yukari works at a photo studio, conducts photoshoots.

Ameagari Published by the Ameagari Editorial Department.
・First published: July 2018
・Biannual (Irregular) publication
・Number of pages: 13
・Format: 297×210 mm
・Circulation: 3,000 copies
・URL: https://zine.ogrykr.com/ (in Japanese)
・Place of distribution: Bookstores, cafés, cultural facilities, community spaces, and others nationwide.

Two publications covering diversity

Introducing two publications that offer new encounters and discoveries about diverse ways of life.


A tabloid magazine created as part of “The Nippon Foundation DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS” project, which aims to support activities in disability and arts culture. Linked with the web media “DIVERSITY IN THE ARTS TODAY”, it broadly disseminates information, focusing on conveying art and surrounding cultures by people with disabilities.

・First published: June 2017
・Biannual (Irregular) publication
・Number of pages: 23
・Format: B5 size (182mm × 257mm)
・Circulation: 15,000 copies

NT (Nisseki Tokyo) published by Japanese Red Cross Society Tokyo Metropolitan Chapter

Published as the public relations magazine of the Japanese Red Cross Society Tokyo Metropolitan Chapter, with the concept of “being a magazine that draws kindness and empathy from its readers”. Its purpose is to comprehensively disseminate information about Red Cross facilities (chapters, medical and maternity hospitals, blood centers, welfare facilities) in Tokyo. It has been covering a wide range of topics including the international activities of the Red Cross, disasters, disaster prevention, dementia, SDGs, blood donation, and understanding the invisible and the inaudible world.

・First published: April 2014
・Published four times a year
・Number of pages: 32
・Format: AB size (210mm × 257mm)
・Circulation: 75,000 copies
・URL:https://www.jrc.or.jp/chapter/tokyo/public/ (in Japanese)

Japanese original text: Emi Sato
Photo: Aya Hatakenaka (In the above interview article)
Translation: Kae Shigeno