At first glance, Nijiiro Komachi (Rainbow Beauty) looks like any craft shop, with colorful handmade earrings, necklaces, illustrated postcards and metal badges adorning the shelves and walls. The store in Tokyo's Kichijoji district, however, has a unique mission: to support sexual minorities in Japan.

Haruka Imatoku, 20, opened it in March, hoping to raise awareness of issues pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from the perspective of a heterosexual. She considers herself straight.

While a few municipal governments have recently moved to give official recognition to same-sex partners, and despite a recent survey by advertising giant Dentsu Inc. which found that 7.6 percent of 70,000 people polled consider themselves part of the LGBT community, prejudice and discrimination against sexual minorities abounds.