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Do Japanese care about tattoos?


Tattoos are a form of self-expression, with various meanings and symbolism. In Japan, tattoos have a long history rooted in their culture, but they also have a negative association with the yakuza, Japan’s organized crime syndicates. This has led to mixed opinions about tattoos among the Japanese population, making it important to explore the question of whether Japanese care about tattoos.

The history of tattoos in Japan

Japan has had a long tradition of tattooing dating back to the 5th century. Tattoos were initially used as a form of identification for criminals, but eventually became popular among the working class and samurai. Tattoos were often used to depict religious or symbolic imagery, such as dragons or koi fish, and were viewed as a form of protection.

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The negative association with tattoos

In modern times, tattoos have become associated with the yakuza, who extensively use them to signify their affiliation with organized crime. This has created a negative perception of tattoos among the Japanese population, leading many businesses to ban customers with visible tattoos from entering their establishments.

The changing attitudes towards tattoos

In recent years, there has been a shift in attitudes towards tattoos in Japan. With the rise of social media and exposure to Western culture, young people have become more accepting of tattoos as a form of self-expression. Many people now view tattoos as an artistic expression rather than a symbol of criminal activity.

The legal status of tattoos in Japan

While there is no law against getting a tattoo in Japan, the practice is not regulated by the government. This means that only licensed medical practitioners are legally allowed to give tattoos, making it difficult for tattoo artists to operate legally.

Tattoo tourism in Japan

Despite the negative associations with tattoos in Japan, there has been an increase in tattoo tourism. Many foreigners come to Japan specifically to get traditional Japanese-style tattoos from skilled artists.

The influence of sports on tattoo acceptance

In recent years, many Japanese athletes have been seen with visible tattoos. This includes soccer players and Olympic athletes, who have helped to dispel some of the negative associations with tattoos among younger generations.

The impact on job prospects

In Japan, visible tattoos can still be a barrier to employment. Many companies have strict policies against visible tattoos on their employees, and even those who do not may still view them negatively.

The role of religion on tattoo acceptance

Religion plays an important role in Japanese culture and can influence attitudes towards tattoos. While Buddhism doesn’t explicitly forbid tattooing, some followers believe that it goes against the teachings of the religion.

Tattoo removal in Japan

For those who regret getting a tattoo or need to remove them due to employment reasons, tattoo removal services are available in Japan. However, they can be expensive and painful.

The future of tattoo acceptance in Japan

As younger generations become more accepting of tattoos as an art form rather than a symbol of crime, it is possible that attitudes towards tattoos in Japan will continue to shift. However, it may take time for businesses and employers to update their policies accordingly.


While there is no easy answer to whether or not Japanese care about tattoos, it is clear that there are mixed opinions on the subject. While traditional attitudes still exist, there are signs that younger generations are becoming more accepting of tattoos as an art form rather than a symbol of crime.

Does Japan care if foreigners have tattoos?

Although not against the law, tattoos can hinder a person’s ability to fully embrace the Japanese culture. For example, tourists with visible tattoos should be aware that they may be viewed as offensive by some locals when using public transportation, such as trains.

Is Japan still strict about tattoos?

Tattoos are legal in Japan and are not considered a problem. Some people even have fashion tattoos and you may see them in Tokyo. However, tattoos are often hidden beneath clothing and not openly displayed.

Why is Japan strict with tattoos?

Tattoos in Japan have been stigmatized for a long time, as they are associated with criminal activity. In particular, the country’s largest organized crime syndicate, the Yakuza, has been linked to tattoos in recent years. However, the roots of this association go much further back in Japanese history.

What do Japanese think of foreigners with Japanese tattoos?

When Japanese people see foreigners with visible tattoos, it reinforces their sense of being different and exotic. This perception is slowly changing, but in the past, someone with a visible tattoo was viewed as someone who was not considered part of polite society and had lower class status.

Are tattoos socially acceptable in Japan?

Tattoos are stigmatized in Japan due to their association with organized crime, resulting in a longstanding cultural taboo against them. People with tattoos may be barred from entering certain places, such as beaches, hot springs, and gyms, and companies often reject applicants who have tattoos.

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

In Japan, having a tattoo may be viewed negatively by some companies when seeking employment. It is not uncommon for Japanese companies to reject job applicants with tattoos as they may be perceived as being associated with anti-social groups or behavior.

One factor that may contribute to the changing attitudes towards tattoos in Japan is the increasing influence of global popular culture. In recent years, Japanese youth have been exposed to Western celebrities and their extensive tattoo collections, which may have helped to shift perceptions of tattoos as a symbol of rebellion or counterculture.

However, it’s important to note that not all Japanese people view tattoos negatively. Some individuals may have personal or cultural reasons for getting tattoos, such as honoring family members or expressing their identity as members of marginalized communities.

Another factor that may be contributing to the changing views on tattoos in Japan is the country’s aging population. According to a 2019 report by the Japanese government, the country’s population is rapidly aging, with more than 28% of residents over the age of 65. This demographic shift may mean that younger generations will have more influence over cultural norms and attitudes towards tattoos in the future.

Ultimately, the question of whether Japanese people care about tattoos is complex and multifaceted. While there are still negative associations with tattoos in certain contexts, there are also signs that attitudes towards tattoos are shifting as younger generations become more accepting of them as an art form and means of self-expression. As Japan continues to evolve and adapt to changing cultural norms, it will be interesting to see how these attitudes towards tattoos continue to evolve over time.

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