Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

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Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Postby Wanderlust83 » Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:38 pm

Help, please, Fellow Travellers!

I am booked on the Discover Japan tour departing April 1st. I decided to look-up our starting point hotel online -- Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo -- to see what their pool facilities are like. I am an avid swimmer -- I train and compete with 2 masters teams -- so I was thrilled to see that the hotel has a lap pool that I could get some exercise in. But then I read on the hotel's website that "people with tattoos are asked to refrain from using these facilities". I have several tattoos, so I was rather shocked and offended to read this.

I can look past being able to fit in a workout or two at the hotel at the begining and end of this tour; however, I am now concerned if I will be restricted from participating in certain tour activities (e.g., going to the onsens) because I have tattoos. If my tattoos are going to retrict my ability to experience everything that this Discover Japan tour offers, then I may have to consider cancelling my trip :(

So, if there's anyone who is reading this who has tattoos and has been on this tour recently, could you please tell me whether or not you encountered any issues? Any feedback/advice is greatly appreciated.
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Re: Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Postby AdamfromCanada » Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:31 pm

Wanderlust83 wrote:Help, please, Fellow Travellers!

I am booked on the Discover Japan tour departing April 1st. I decided to look-up our starting point hotel online -- Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo -- to see what their pool facilities are like. I am an avid swimmer -- I train and compete with 2 masters teams -- so I was thrilled to see that the hotel has a lap pool that I could get some exercise in. But then I read on the hotel's website that "people with tattoos are asked to refrain from using these facilities". I have several tattoos, so I was rather shocked and offended to read this.

I can look past being able to fit in a workout or two at the hotel at the begining and end of this tour; however, I am now concerned if I will be restricted from participating in certain tour activities (e.g., going to the onsens) because I have tattoos. If my tattoos are going to retrict my ability to experience everything that this Discover Japan tour offers, then I may have to consider cancelling my trip :(

So, if there's anyone who is reading this who has tattoos and has been on this tour recently, could you please tell me whether or not you encountered any issues? Any feedback/advice is greatly appreciated.


I was just on a tour in China and one of my fellow travellers was a girl with several prominent tattoos. People were generally quite curious about them, and she found people touched her arms fairly often, sometimes quite surprisingly, but I don't think that she was prohibited from doing anything because of them.

I think it is always best to be fairly respectful. Keep your tattoos covered for the most part as much as you can. But at the same time, I think you should go and enjoy your trip. In most cases, I find that things like this are blown out of proportion and chances are that no one will be overly offended by them, especially if you're not in your face about them.
Feel free to check out my travels on http://www.adammallonphotography.com
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Re: Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Postby Wanderlust83 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:07 pm

Thanks for your reply, Adam. I'm still hoping to hear from anyone who's travelled in Japan, as having tattoos seems to be a bigger deal there (something to do with the Japanese mafia having tattoos).
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Re: Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Postby missjobee » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:34 am

Hi Wanderlust

My friend recently got back and he is quite heavily tattood on his arms. He didnt have a problem when travelling around but did say he had a lot of interest such as people touching his arms etc.

In regards to Onsens nearly all of them operate a strict non tattoo policy which is to stop any members of the Yakuza (mafia if you like) entering.

You can get a private area in some Onsens in which you would be ok but it seems to be quite a general rule in these, pools and gyms that all tattoos are either covered or you arent allowed in. Any small ones you can get away with but if you do have larger ones you may face some problems. You may be best to speak to the staff as it is clear you are not a member of the Yakuza and as long as its not particularly busy meaning no complaints from any locals you should be fine. Its more of an old rule and not directly applied to tourists.

I dont think it is worth cancelling your trip over as there are always private options available at these Onsens and if its just the water based activities you will be limited in then its still worth going for the rest! Maybe give your local branch a call and see what they advise? There must have been plenty of people with tattoos travel before.

I hope this helps :)
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Re: Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Postby Wanderlust83 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 1:14 pm

Thanks for your reply, missjobee.

To update anyone else who might be curious about this topic....

I posed my question directly to G Adventures and, through their Asia base camp, they were able to get in touch directly with the onsens that are visited on the Discover Japan tour. Basically, travellers with tattoos are allowed to use the onsens on this tour provided that their tattoos are not too big or menacing, and as long as any Japanese guests aren't scared by them.

Happy Travels!
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Re: Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Postby loll_and_matt » Sun Apr 06, 2014 2:22 pm

Hi there

Sorry to drag this post up from ages ago but we're booked to go to Japan and was searching the forum for general info. We've both got tattoos so was a little alarmed about the possibility of facing issues because of it - it's not something that's ever crossed our minds!

Wanderlust, did you go on your trip and did you have any problems in the end?

Anyone else had first hand experience when they've bared their tattoos in Japan?!

Thanks
Lauren & Matt
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Re: Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Postby errantcompass » Sat Jul 12, 2014 8:39 pm

The posts above are right about tattoos and the yakuza. Most Japanese however realize that as gaijin you aren't Yakuza and won't care. Most onsens and hotels with them will allow normal Western tattoos, just ask, exceptions maybe for sleeves or full back ones (which are similar to yakuza). I have been to several that do not care and several that will give you a bandaid or patch to cover it up.
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Re: Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Postby loll_and_matt » Sun Jul 20, 2014 4:50 pm

errantcompass wrote:The posts above are right about tattoos and the yakuza. Most Japanese however realize that as gaijin you aren't Yakuza and won't care. Most onsens and hotels with them will allow normal Western tattoos, just ask, exceptions maybe for sleeves or full back ones (which are similar to yakuza). I have been to several that do not care and several that will give you a bandaid or patch to cover it up.


Thank you :)
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