Today, we’re happy to share with you the existence of 29-year-old Yukiya Terai.
Terai is a growing professional and celebrity in Japan who’s helping to familiarize Japanese people with gay life and love, and he’s doing that through food.
Currently, Terai is a cookbook author, caterer, and Instagrammer who takes photos of the colorful food he creates under the label “Yukiya meshi” (Yukiya’s meals).
Having learned to cook from his grandfather who owned a guesthouse, Terai is not classically trained and works from the kitchen in his home. That said, he’s already gained professional and cultural traction due to his personal life.
Working along-side him (and living with him), are his mother, whom he employees as his cooking assistant, and his 44-year-old partner Tsukasa Nakagawa.
Terai and Nakagawa first met on Facebook before taking their relationship offline. Then, the two found themselves fighting more often then not due to Terai’s outgoing personality clashing with Nakagawa’s more traditional upbringing.
But, the love the two shared was stronger than the clashing of their personalities as they eventually tied the knot (or at least did as close as they could in Japan).
When Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward allowed same-sex partner certificates in November of 2015, Terai and Nakagawa were one of the first seven couples to receive the documents.
While the partnerships are not legal marriages and technically aren’t domestic partnerships recognized by law either, they do create visibility for gay couples in the city and country.
As Terai told Kyodo News:
"The certificate just says the mayor of Setagaya recognizes your same-sex relationship. It's nothing official. But it does tell the world you are serious, having gone through the trouble (of signing application papers)," Terai said.
"For example, it's difficult for two men to rent an apartment together in Japan with all the background checks real estate agents do. But our landlord looked us up on the internet, saw our story covered by the media and gave us the thumbs up."
That said, the couple’s union wasn’t celebrated by all. While Terai’s single mother accepted Terai’s coming out by saying, “I knew it,” Nakagawa’s parents were not as welcoming.
"They rejected us because they didn't know. It's not just LGBTs, people don't like what's foreign to them. You have to make an effort to get those people to understand. If, after they get it, they say 'no thanks' that's okay. But I can't stand people who say 'no' without knowing," Terai said.
Luckily, Nakagawa’s parents eventually came around to at least hearing out their son and his lover. The four then went through a period of questions and answers as Nakagawa’s parents became accumulated to the lives of their now two sons.
Now, Terai and Nakagawa say the parents are more than pleased by the relationship and the social change they’re creating just by being open.
"Now they understand we're not doing anything disgraceful and they're proud of us. They love it that our story has been featured in a high school textbook," Terai said.
With that out of the way, Terai is focused on building his career as a chef and representative for LGBTQ-awareness.
"Being known as the 'gay' chef doesn't bother me, but that's just me. I'm not one to hide," he said.
Along with his mother and his professional photographer boyfriend, Terai plans to continue instagramming while he works on a second cookbook, gives cooking lessons, appears on tv shows, and tries to save up to open a restaurant.
"Last year I was confused about the purpose of my life, and whether I was just meant to be cooking," he said.
"But now it's a little clearer. My cooking skills are my weapon and I call myself a chef, but I'm also a messenger. My long-term mission is to bridge the farm-to-table gap, and in order to do that, it helps to be famous. While I'm still young, I have to act."
We want to wish Terai good luck. He has a good head on his shoulders and a strong heart, so we know he’ll give life and career his best.
h/t: Kyodo News