A sign at the entrance of an onsen near Yokota Air Base, Japan, warns that tattooed guests are not allowed inside the public bath, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The Japan Tourism Agency is urging the popular traditional hot springs spas to relax their tattoo policies for foreign guests as the country attracts a record number of overseas visitors. An outdoor hotsprings bath at a tourist hotel in Yufu, Japan. The public baths, admired for their reputed health and beauty benefits, have a history of denying entry to inked visitors because of an association between tattoos and yakuza, the Japanese organized-crime syndicate. YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Japan’s tourism agency is urging traditional hot springs spas to relax their tattoo policies as the country aims to host 20 million annual foreign visitors by the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Public baths, including onsens, are admired for their reputed health and beauty benefits but have a history of denying entry to inked visitors because of an association between tattoos and yakuza, the Japanese organized-crime syndicate.
Japan Tourism Agency officials are asking public-bath operators to consider that many people have tattoos for religious, cultural or fashion reasons, and that tattoos themselves pose no sanitation problems.
The agency is also providing the spas with solutions for accepting tattooed guests, such as covering the ink with skin-toned tape, offering special bathing times or providing separate facilities for those with body art.
“It is difficult to institute standards that will satisfy everyone since there are cultural differences in the mindset of foreigners and Japanese toward tattoos,” the agency said in a statement last week. “However, it is necessary to encourage the way in which friction between spa facilities and foreign tourists with tattoos can be avoided as the number of foreign tourists increase.”
In 2013, a 60-year-old Maori woman visiting from New Zealand was barred from a Hokkaido onsen because of her cultural facial tattoos. The highly publicized incident led luxury hotel chain Hoshino Resort […]