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Is it illegal to get a tattoo under 18 in Japan?


Tattoos have been a part of Japanese culture for centuries, but in recent years, there has been a growing debate about whether or not it is legal for minors to get tattoos in Japan. This article will examine the laws surrounding tattooing in Japan and explore the reasons behind these laws.

The legal age for getting a tattoo in Japan

In Japan, the legal age for getting a tattoo is 18. This means that any person under the age of 18 cannot legally get a tattoo without their parent or legal guardian’s permission. However, even with parental consent, some tattoo artists may refuse to work on minors due to personal beliefs or concerns about potential legal issues.

Japanese Snack Box

The history of tattooing in Japan

Tattooing has a long and rich history in Japan. It was originally used as a form of punishment and branding for criminals, but over time, it became associated with Yakuza members and other criminal organizations. Despite this association, tattoos also became popular among civilians as a way to express their individuality and show off their love for art and culture.

The stigma surrounding tattoos in Japan

Despite the cultural significance of tattoos in Japan, they are still largely stigmatized by society. Many people associate tattoos with criminal activity and may view those with tattoos as untrustworthy or undesirable. This stigma has contributed to the legal restrictions surrounding tattooing in Japan.

The health risks associated with underage tattoos

One of the main reasons why underage tattoos are illegal in Japan is due to the health risks involved. Tattooing can be a dangerous procedure if proper safety measures are not taken, and minors may be more susceptible to infection or other complications due to their underdeveloped immune systems.

The role of parental consent in underage tattooing

While it is technically legal for minors to get tattoos with their parent or legal guardian’s permission, many tattoo artists may still refuse to work on underage clients due to concerns about potential legal issues. Additionally, some parents may not be comfortable giving their consent for their child to get a tattoo, even if it is technically legal.

The punishment for underage tattooing in Japan

If a tattoo artist is caught illegally tattooing a minor in Japan, they can face fines of up to 500,000 yen (approximately $4,500 USD) or imprisonment for up to one year. Additionally, any establishment found to be facilitating underage tattooing can also face penalties.

The debate over underage tattoos in Japan

There is a growing debate in Japan over whether or not the legal age for getting a tattoo should be lowered. Some argue that tattoos are becoming more socially acceptable and that minors should be allowed to express themselves through body art. However, others believe that the current laws are necessary to protect minors from potential health risks and societal stigma.

The impact of social media on tattoo culture in Japan

Social media has played a significant role in changing the perception of tattoos in Japan. Many young people are using platforms like Instagram and Twitter to showcase their tattoos and connect with others who share their love for body art. This increased visibility could lead to a shift in public opinion and potentially influence changes to the current laws.

Alternative options for underage individuals who want tattoos

For those under 18 who are interested in getting a tattoo, there are alternative options available. Henna tattoos, which are temporary and do not involve needles or ink, are a popular choice among young people. Additionally, some tattoo artists may offer non-permanent options like airbrushing or temporary tattoos.

The future of tattooing in Japan

As attitudes towards tattoos continue to evolve in Japan, it is possible that the laws surrounding underage tattooing could change as well. However, for now, it remains illegal for anyone under 18 to get a tattoo without their parent or legal guardian’s permission.


In conclusion, while tattoos have a rich history in Japan, there are still legal restrictions surrounding their use by minors. The current laws aim to protect young people from potential health risks and societal stigma, but there is a growing debate over whether or not these laws should be changed. As attitudes towards tattoos continue to evolve in Japan, it will be interesting to see how the laws adapt to reflect these changes.

Can you get a tattoo at 15 in Japan?

It is illegal in Japan to tattoo a minor, as the legal age nationwide is 20. The Anti-Organized Crime law further prohibits members of organized groups from forcing minors to get tattoos. Additionally, regional laws generally prohibit tattooing minors and violating these laws can result in arrest.

Is it illegal to get a tattoo in Japan?

Although not common, tattoos are present in Japan and getting one is legal. Recently in 2020, tattoo artists were approved to work without a medical license.

Does Japan still ban tattoos?

Contrary to popular belief, tattoos are not illegal in Japan and are generally accepted. In fact, some people in Tokyo even sport fashion tattoos. However, tattoos are often hidden beneath clothing, especially since many Japanese people still hold negative associations with them.

Why does Japan not allow tattoos?

In Japan, tattoos have been historically associated with criminal organizations, particularly the Yakuza. As a result, body ink has been stigmatized in the country for a long time. However, the history of tattoos in Japan goes back much further than their connections to organized crime.

What is Japan’s drinking age?

In Japan, individuals are considered legal adults when they reach the age of 20. It is against the law for those under 20 to consume alcohol or smoke. It is also important to note that pressuring anyone, regardless of age, to drink or smoke can have severe health and social implications.

What is the age of consent in Japan?

Recently, a panel within the Japanese justice ministry suggested increasing the age of consent in Japan from 13 years old to 16 years old. It is important to note that Japan currently has the lowest age of consent among the G7 nations, and this age has not changed since it was established over 100 years ago. This proposal is being discussed as a potential change to the current laws.

The impact of tourism on tattooing in Japan

Tourism has also had an impact on the tattoo culture in Japan. Many visitors to Japan are interested in getting traditional Japanese tattoos, which has led to an increase in demand for tattoo artists who specialize in this style. However, some tourists may not be aware of the legal restrictions surrounding underage tattooing in Japan and may unknowingly put themselves at risk by seeking out illegal tattoo artists.

The importance of education about tattoo safety

To ensure that young people are informed about the potential risks involved with tattooing, education about tattoo safety should be a priority. This could include information about the importance of choosing a reputable tattoo artist, understanding the risks of infection and allergic reactions, and properly caring for a new tattoo. By providing young people with this information, they can make informed decisions about whether or not to pursue a tattoo.

The role of cultural exchange in changing attitudes towards tattoos

As Japan becomes increasingly connected to the global community, cultural exchange could play a role in changing attitudes towards tattoos. For example, as more young people travel abroad and encounter cultures where tattoos are more accepted, they may bring that acceptance back to Japan. Additionally, exposure to international perspectives on tattoos through social media and other channels could help shift public opinion.

The potential benefits of legalizing underage tattoos

While there are certainly risks associated with underage tattoos, there are also potential benefits to legalizing them. Allowing minors to get tattoos with parental consent could help reduce the stigma surrounding body art and promote individual expression. It could also help prevent minors from seeking out underground tattoo artists who may not follow proper safety protocols.

The need for continued dialogue around underage tattooing in Japan

Ultimately, the issue of underage tattooing in Japan requires ongoing dialogue between lawmakers, parents, young people, and tattoo artists. By working together to understand the potential risks and benefits of tattooing, we can create a safer and more accepting culture around body art.

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