Japanese tattoos

A Japanese girl strolling around London streets showing of her tattoos during the 5th International London Tattoo Convention. Probably this girl would have problems if she tries to go to onsens here in Japan, as it is forbidden to enter in most of the onsens if you have a tattoo.

Japanese tattoos
Photo by Daylife.

15 replies on “Japanese tattoos”

Why is that? I was recently in Japan, and, while I dont have any tatoos, we were told that..

Is it just because it appears to be unclean?


Mikey, it is because in Japan it is mostly yakuza (gangsters) that are heavily tattooed and most onsens are family establishments that don’t want to be seen as associating with gangsters and their customers would not want contact with yakuza either.

Imagine the onsen employee who draws the short straw and has to go tell the tattooed yakuza boss and his cronies that no, they’re not welcome in the bath.

hmm, I have to say I have a tattoo and I never had any problems, nor did any of my friends… although it could have been because a) we were in Hokkaido or b) we were both foreign and female. in any case, I went to dozens of Onsen and it never even came up.

I’m a big ol’ white boy married to a Japanese lady and I have a kanji word tattooed to my arm. We were in Japan in August and I was very nervous about going to the swimming pool in the hotel because they had big signs up saying “no tatoos”. No one cared though. Us gaijin get away with anything πŸ™‚

I wonder if it’s the Yakuza thing, that seems so obvious. I know way back when, the only people who were legally allowed to have tatoo’s were firemen.

Strange.. Ahh well. πŸ™‚

I have to wonder about the fact that what we can see is her back. There must have been some people in that crowd who were looking at her front and probably weren’t thinking only about her tatoos. I doubt that bikini was that big round the other side either.
I remember being approached by a very tattooed gent in my local sento in Otsu when my wife and I visited one time. I think he’d been sent by his boss to find out who the foreigner was. Nice guy (to me and that time, at least) and someone who must have had stories that I’d have loved to hear. I never met him again, sadly.

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