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How much is an hourly tattoo in Japan?

The Cost of Hourly Tattoos in Japan

Tattooing has been an integral part of Japanese culture for centuries. While the art form has evolved over time, the skill and precision required to create intricate designs have remained the same. In this article, we will discuss the cost of hourly tattoos in Japan, factors that influence pricing, and what to expect when getting inked in the Land of the Rising Sun.

History of Tattooing in Japan

Tattooing has a long and storied history in Japan. The practice dates back to the Jomon period (around 10,000 BCE) when tattoos were used for spiritual and decorative purposes. Over time, tattoos became associated with criminality and were used as a means of punishment. In the Edo period (1603-1868), tattoos were popular among firefighters and laborers as a way to identify their respective groups. Today, tattoos are widely accepted in Japan, but many public places such as onsens (hot springs) and gyms still prohibit those with visible tattoos from entering.

Japanese Snack Box

Factors that Influence Pricing

Several factors can influence the cost of an hourly tattoo in Japan. First and foremost is the skill level of the artist. Top-tier artists with years of experience and a strong reputation can command higher rates than those who are just starting out. The location of the tattoo shop is another important consideration. Shops located in major cities or tourist areas may charge more due to higher overhead costs. Finally, the complexity and size of the design will also impact pricing.

Average Hourly Rates

The average hourly rate for a tattoo in Japan ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 yen (roughly $90-$180 USD). However, prices can vary widely depending on the factors mentioned above. Some artists may charge as little as 5,000 yen per hour, while others may charge upwards of 30,000 yen per hour.

Top Tattoo Artists in Japan

Japan is home to some of the world’s most talented tattoo artists. Horiyoshi III, Horitomo, and Shige are just a few of the renowned Japanese tattoo artists who have gained international recognition for their work. These artists command top dollar for their services and often have long waiting lists for appointments.

Tattoo Shops vs. Private Studios

In Japan, tattoos are typically done in either a traditional tattoo shop or a private studio. Traditional tattoo shops may have multiple artists working at once and often have a more casual atmosphere. Private studios, on the other hand, are usually run by a single artist and offer a more personalized experience. Prices at private studios may be slightly higher due to the one-on-one attention provided by the artist.

Choosing the Right Artist

Choosing the right artist is one of the most important decisions you will make when getting a tattoo in Japan. Researching artists online and reading reviews can give you an idea of their skill level and customer satisfaction. It’s also a good idea to visit multiple shops/studios in person to get a sense of their cleanliness, professionalism, and overall vibe.

The Tattoo Process

The tattoo process in Japan is similar to that in other countries. After choosing your design and artist, you will be asked to sign a release form and pay a deposit (usually 20-30% of the total cost). The artist will then begin the tattooing process, which can take anywhere from a few hours to several sessions depending on the size and complexity of the design.

Tattoo Aftercare

Proper aftercare is crucial to the healing process and the longevity of your tattoo. Your artist will provide you with detailed instructions on how to care for your tattoo, but generally speaking, you should keep it clean, moisturized, and out of direct sunlight for at least two weeks after getting inked.

Tattoo Removal in Japan

While tattoos are becoming more accepted in Japan, there are still some situations where they may be frowned upon or even prohibited. If you find yourself in this situation or simply no longer want your tattoo, there are several options for removal. Laser removal is the most common method, but it can be expensive and time-consuming. Some artists also offer cover-up services to hide unwanted tattoos.

The Future of Tattooing in Japan

As attitudes towards tattoos continue to evolve in Japan, the future of the industry looks bright. More and more young people are getting inked, and there is a growing appreciation for the art form both domestically and internationally. With top-tier artists and a rich cultural history, Japan is sure to remain a hub for tattoo enthusiasts for years to come.


Getting a tattoo in Japan can be a unique and rewarding experience for those willing to take the plunge. While prices can vary widely depending on factors like location and artist skill level, the average hourly rate ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 yen. By doing your research and choosing the right artist, you can ensure that your tattoo turns out exactly as you imagined it.

Are tattoos more expensive in Japan?

The cost of getting a tattoo in Japan will depend on the location, but typically it will be less expensive than the cost in your home country. If you plan to get a tattoo in Japan, make sure to do thorough research beforehand to ensure you know what design you want and where to go to get it.

Is $100 an hour expensive for a tattoo?

The more complex your desired tattoo design is, the longer it will take to create and tattoo, which can increase the overall cost. Typically, tattoo artists charge at least $100 per hour for their services.

Is $200 an hour a lot for a tattoo?

Typically, tattoo artists charge between $100 and $250 per hour, but some well-known artists may charge more. The artist’s popularity, as indicated by the number of followers on social media and awards earned by the studio or artist, can influence their rates.

Is 150$ an hour tattoo expensive?

Tattoo artists typically charge an hourly rate ranging from $75 to $150. For more complex tattoos, such as an elephant on the forearm or upper back, which can take between 2.5 to 6 hours, the cost is typically between $200 and $600, with an average cost of $316.

Can tourists get tattoos in Japan?

Although tattoos are not very common in Japan, they are not illegal. In fact, in 2020, tattoo artists were granted permission to work without a medical license.

Can tourists have tattoos in Japan?

Tattoos are not prohibited, but they may prevent visitors from fully experiencing Japan. Travelers with visible tattoos should be aware that some locals may find their ink offensive when using public transportation like trains.

It’s worth noting that the Japanese government has strict regulations when it comes to tattooing. While the practice is legal, only licensed medical professionals are allowed to perform it. This means that many tattoo artists in Japan operate in a legal grey area and may not have official licenses. However, this does not necessarily mean they are unskilled or unprofessional. It’s important to do your research and choose an artist who has a good reputation and demonstrates a commitment to cleanliness and safety.

Another factor to consider when getting a tattoo in Japan is the language barrier. Many tattoo artists may not be fluent in English, which can make communication difficult. If you don’t speak Japanese, it’s a good idea to bring a friend who can act as a translator or hire a professional interpreter to assist you during the consultation and tattooing process.

It’s also worth noting that some traditional Japanese tattoos have specific meanings and symbolism attached to them. For example, koi fish tattoos often represent perseverance and determination, while dragon tattoos symbolize strength and wisdom. It’s important to research the meanings behind different designs before choosing one, as you may inadvertently choose a design with a meaning that doesn’t align with your values or beliefs.

Finally, it’s important to remember that getting a tattoo is a permanent decision. While laser removal and cover-ups are options, they can be costly and time-consuming. Before getting inked, take the time to consider whether this is truly something you want for the rest of your life. If you’re unsure, consider starting with a small design before committing to a larger piece.

Overall, getting a tattoo in Japan can be a unique and rewarding experience for those willing to navigate the cultural nuances and language barriers. By doing your research, choosing the right artist, and carefully considering your design choices, you can ensure that your tattoo is both meaningful and beautiful.

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