New Tattoo rule for Public bath in Japan?

Tattoo rules you need to know in Japan

tattoo in japan, public bath in japan
Well, if you have this big tattoo, it may be hard under the new rule too.. Source: Wikipedia.
Tattoo banned in Japan mostly all rights reserved by onegai kaeru
Warning sign in a locker room of a public bath. Tattooed person (as well as drunk person) banned in Japan mostly all rights reserved by onegai kaeru

New Tattoo Rule in Japan "Finally"

more rules but more confusion...

One of the common questions Onegai Kaeru team receives from its readers is "can I take a public bath( hot spring, swimming pool) with my tattoo?".


The general answer is NO. Still not too many public bath/swimming pools accept people with tattoo (Check this Tattoo ok bath/swimming place list for Japan ).  But something seems to start changing (a bit). 


For Japanese, it is because tattoo is often associated with Japanese mafia. You may see a lot what we mean in the movies of Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara. Many public baths and swimming pools ban those with tattoo from entering them. The prohibition even extends to tattoo stickers. 


There was an outcry in Japan, when one indigenous person( an Maori person from NZ) was not allowed to take a public bath in Hokkaido because of her tattoo in 2013.


As of June 2024, Japan has welcome more foreign tourists than ever and of course more people with tattoo visiting Japan. As our article sometimes explains, there are new rules here and there about tattoos in public space and more venues are more open yet, still there have been a lot of confusions on the ground. 


A recent news still shows one of the examples of such a confusion: 


[ One spa venue in Shizuoka City, recently found itself in hot water after mistakenly allowing tattooed customers to use their bath facilities. On June 10th of 2024, the establishment issued an official apology on their website, addressing the incident and outlining steps to prevent future occurrences.


What Happened:

On June 4th 2024, seven tattooed individuals were discovered in the men’s bath. The staff promptly asked them to leave. The spa extended heartfelt apologies to all guests who were concerned by this breach of policy.


Setting the Record Straight:

The spa terms of service clearly state that guests with tattoos, including those with similar stickers, are not allowed entry. However, a new front desk employee mistakenly permitted the tattooed guests to use the standing shower with staff accompaniment, instead of denying entry right away.


Taking Action:

The spa company said they has taken this incident seriously, acknowledging the need for better training. They are now enhancing their training programs for new employees to ensure everyone understands and strictly follows the rules. Here’s a breakdown of their reinforced policies:

- Entry Denial: Guests with tattoos or similar stickers will be denied entry.

- Front Desk Protocol: If tattoos are spotted at the front desk, the guest will be turned away immediately.

- Bathhouse Protocol: If unnoticed tattoos are discovered in the bathhouse, the guest will be asked to leave at once, with staff accompanying them if necessary.


A Commitment to Excellence:

The spa company deeply regrets any worry caused by this incident. They are dedicated to improving their service and ensuring a pleasant experience for all guests. They have called for continued support and patronage from their customers, promising to learn from this mistake and enhance their overall customer experience.


"We apologize for any concern caused to our guests," the statement read. "Our entire team is committed to making sure every visit to our venue is enjoyable. We appreciate your understanding and continued support."


The company swift and thorough response demonstrates their commitment to maintaining a welcoming and respectful environment for all guests. ] Source: Suponichi news


<<Tattoo OK bath list in Japan>>

<<Private hot spring hotels/inns have no problem with tattoos! Check the list>>

Use Tattoo CONCEALER Stickers?

Tattoo concealer looks like the above.

With increasing number of tourists from overseas, some public baths trying to change the rules as they understand that tattoo(esp. of those of foreigners) does not always mean mafia, rather mere fashion. 


For example, this public bath in Saitama near Tokyo announced to run one month trial(from 1st of August, 2015 till the end of August, 2015) where it allows those with the tattoo cover-able/hide-able by their sticker 12.8cm x 18.2cm to enter. You can not bring your own sticker, the bath operator provides its own official sticker. If the trial goes "smooth", it will officialize the rule.  


And this famous hotel resort operator Hoshino resort also starts the similar rule from October, 2015. This hotel's sticker is 8cm x 10cm.

no tattoo sign in japan at swimming pool, public bath
This type of sign commonly seen at a public bath, swimming pool in Japan

Horiyoshi 3rd "三代目彫よし" is probably the most famous tattoo artist today in Japan. His studio is in Yokohama. Last time we talked his studio he was preparing for an exhibition in Tokyo yet quite sick having to visit a hospital many times for the treatment. We hope he gets better soon. The museum address is below.

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To grasp what we mean by how Japanese perceive Tattoo in public, you can watch this comedy clip above.  Seems some Taiwanese person put on youtube from an old Japanese comedy show on TV. Source: Drifters

Useful tips for those with tattoos in Japan

private bath is always the safest answer

The size of sticker is different from one another but you can somewhat expect from 8cm x 10cm. You can cut some paper in this size and put it over your tattoo. If completely covered, you can enter at least the above public bath in Saitama and also the hotels of Hoshino resort.


It seems some more public bath/hotel/ryokan operators follow this new rule. But still it is expected that the change will not be fast.

Thus, for those who would like to enjoy Japan trip and have tattoos, we put some tips to enjoy the bath with tattoos. The rule of thumb is to find a bath which is not public in a public venue:


1) find a place with a private bath. Many hotels/ryokan(Japanese inns)/minshuku( guest houses) have private bath tubs attached to the room where nobody other than you( and your family etc.) can access. Even some public bath( not hotel) have the private rooms equipped with baths ( for which you need to pay extra). This is usually an expensive option.

Note: Many minshuku( guest houses which are reasonably priced) tend to be small and are with no private baths. 


2) find a place with a bath which you can keep for yourself( and your family etc.). We came across some hotels/ryokans/minshukus where you can keep the bath room for yourself for some time. The system works like this. For this type of bath, you see a plate hanging on the door of or around the bath saying "occupied" on one side and the other side "available". This is usually not as expensive as 1).


3) find a public bath/swimming pool/sport gym which are "said by its users" to accept people with tattoos on this website TATTOO SPOT. On this website people post the place which can accept tattoo bearers.  

NOTE: Onegai Kaeru team is not convinced by the accuracy of this info in general. We visited several places and saw the signs "No tattoo".  


4) find a place from the Tokyo Sento(public bath) Association list. This association, consisting of the public bath operators in Tokyo area, announced to allow people with tattoo being in their places. Their website has the easy instruction how to take public bath in Japan basis of which you can apply to all baths in Japan.


(Unless your tattoo are one of these wearables as we suggested! ) either, you take any option 1), 2) or 3), you must send email or call up the place and explicitly ask if okay to come with tattoo. 

Useful Japanese sentence if you have tattoos

Useful Japanese sentence:

The example of sentence you can say is "Konnichiwa, Sochira ha Tatuu( Irezumi) Ookey desuka(Hello, with Tattoo, Okay there) ?"  

If the answer is "Okay", "Hai, Daijobu desu" or "Daijoubu desu", you can "possibly" go in. ( If otherwise, better find a hotel with private hot spring bath from here:  Great hotel and Inn with private baths for Spring and Summer in Japan and Great hotel and Inn with private baths for Autumn and Winter in Japan. )


Note: There are always a lot of ambiguity with Japanese expression, better say these in English and get the clear okay, or let a Japanese speaking person ask. If the answer is positive, always remember to keep the name of the person on the other end of the line just in case.

Useful list for Tattoo people in Japan

tattoo okay public bath and swimming pool list in japan?

We have the list for those who wants to enjoy taking public bath/swimming pool etc.

 Check this Tattoo ok/friendly bath/swimming place list for Japan (and you can list if you find one for others with tattoo who want to enjoy public bath in Japan).  Again there is no guarantee that you can get in. Even if you call up one of these places from the list, the staff may say "NO" as "an official response" even where you can in fact. 

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Source: Wikipedia, Yomiuri News



Disclaimer: Even though we try to make the info as updated and accurate but the accuracy of the information herein is not guaranteed by us. If you have any uncertainty, please contact the information source.

Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    David (Wednesday, 16 September 2015 01:43)

    Useful information thanks!

  • #2

    Yoshihiro (Thursday, 28 June 2018 12:42)

    Thank you for the useful information about tattoo in Japan!

    Found a great website to find Tattoo ok place in Japan. Called !