Tattoo rules you need to know in Japan
New Tattoo Rule in Japan "Finally"
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. 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.
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.
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
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
We have the list for those who wants to enjoy taking public bath/swimming pool etc.
Check out this website called TATTOO SPOT. 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.
Onegai Kaeru wants you to enjoy Japan trip.
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Source: Wikipedia, Yomiuri News
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