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Can foreigners have tattoos in Japan?

1. Introduction

When visiting Japan, many foreigners are curious about whether or not they can get tattoos. After all, in many cultures tattoos are seen as a form of self-expression and artistry, so it’s understandable to want to explore this option while abroad. However, the answer is not so straightforward. In Japan, tattoos have a long and complicated history that has led to a certain perception of them today.

2. What are tattoos in Japan?

Tattoos in Japan are known as “irezumi” which literally translates to “inserting ink” or “inserting pictures” into the skin. They can be anything from traditional Japanese motifs like dragons and koi fish to modern designs such as skulls or roses. Tattooing has been part of Japanese culture for centuries, with its origins dating back to at least the Edo period (1603-1868). During this time, tattooing was primarily used by criminals as a way to mark themselves and differentiate from those who were law abiding citizens.

Japanese Snack Box

3. History of Tattoos in Japan

Tattooing was banned during the Meiji period (1868-1912) due to its association with crime and marginalization of certain social groups like the yakuza (Japanese mafia). This ban continued until recently when tattooing became more widely accepted in society due to its popularity among celebrities and young people alike. Despite this change in attitude, there is still some stigma associated with tattoos in Japan that can make it difficult for foreigners who wish to get one while visiting the country.

4. Cultural Significance of Tattoos in Japan

Although there is still a negative perception of tattoos in Japan, many people view them as an art form that has been passed down through generations. Traditional Japanese tattoos often depict mythical creatures like dragons or koi fish which symbolize strength and good luck respectively. These tattoos also have spiritual significance for some people who believe that they can bring protection and power from gods or ancestors – something that goes beyond just aesthetics alone.

5. The Negative Perception of Tattoos in Japan

While there is a growing acceptance of tattoos among younger generations, there is still a strong negative perception among older generations who view them as being associated with crime and gangs like the yakuza – something which continues to be frowned upon by society at large. This negative perception has led many public establishments such as swimming pools and hot springs banning people with visible tattoos from entering their premises out of fear that they may be connected with organized crime groups such as the yakuza.

6 Are Foreigners Allowed To Have Tattoos In Japan?

The short answer is yes – foreigners are allowed to have tattoos in Japan but there may be restrictions depending on where you go and what type of tattoo you have. Generally speaking though, most public establishments will allow foreigners with small discreet tattoos into their premises without any issues but may ask those with larger or more obvious ones to cover up before entering.

7 Tips For Foreigners With Tattoos Visiting Japan

For those planning on getting a tattoo while visiting Japan or already having one before arriving here then here are some tips:

-Be aware that large or obvious tattoos may be frowned upon by some establishments so it’s best to cover up if necessary;

-Be respectful when getting your tattoo done by following traditional customs;

-Be aware that certain areas such as temples may not allow anyone with visible tattoos inside;

-Always research beforehand if possible about any potential restrictions on where you plan on going;

-Finally remember that even though attitudes towards tattooing have changed over time it’s still important remain mindful when travelling around the country.

8 Conclusion

In conclusion, while attitudes towards tattooing have become more accepting over time it’s important for foreigners visiting Japan to be aware that certain establishments may still impose restrictions on those with visible body art due to its long association with crime and gangs such as the yakuza.However this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy getting a tattoo while travelling around this beautiful country – just make sure you do your research beforehand so you know what kind of restrictions might exist at different places before making any plans!

9 Resources And Further Reading
         • “Can Foreigners Get A Tattoo In Japan?”, Culture Trip (
         • “Tattoos In Japanese Culture”, LiveJapan (
         • “The History Of Tattoos In Japanese Culture”, TatRing (

Can you have tattoos as a tourist in Japan?

A warning to travelers with tattoos while tattoos are not illegal they can get the full Japanese experience. When using public transportation (such as trains) in Japan tourists with visible tattoos should remember that their tattoos may offend some locals.

Is Japan strict with tattoos?

Japan has a long-standing ban on tattoos linked to organized crime. Many beaches hot springs resorts and gyms do not accept people with tattoos. Companies often expressly disallow applicants of color.

Why does Japan not allow tattoos?

Tattoos have long been popular in Japan as organized crime gangs of the yakuza swear allegiance to their body tattoos. For this reason anyone in any profession generally cannot use ink in public swimming pools hot beaches and some gyms.

Can Americans have tattoos in Japan?

Tattoos are actually okay in Japan. They are not illegal in any way. You can also see some people walking around with trendy tattoos especially in Tokyo. While some people in Japan have tattoos they are usually hidden under clothing.

Can I get a job in Japan if I have a tattoo?

Is having a tattoo a negative factor when getting a job in an organization? However many Japanese companies reject employees with tattoos. According to Japanese companies if a company employee has tattoos it will appear that he is anti-social or associated with other anti-social elements.

What happens if you show your tattoos in Japan?

Showing your ink in Japan will get you banned from some places like onsen pools (bathrooms) gymnasiums and many ryokans (Japanese inns).

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