free website hit counter

Why are tattoos illegal in Japan?


Tattoos have been around for centuries and are a popular form of body art in many cultures. However, in Japan, tattoos have a negative connotation and are often associated with the yakuza, or Japanese mafia. In fact, tattoos are even illegal in some places in Japan. In this article, we will explore why tattoos are illegal in Japan and the cultural significance behind this ban.

The history of tattoos in Japan

Tattoos have a long history in Japan, dating back to the Jomon period (10,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.). However, tattoos were not always seen as a form of art or self-expression. During the Edo period (1603-1868), tattoos were used as a form of punishment for criminals. This practice continued until the Meiji period (1868-1912) when Japan began to modernize.

Japanese Snack Box

The association between tattoos and the yakuza

In the 20th century, tattoos began to gain popularity among the working class in Japan. However, at the same time, the yakuza also began to adopt tattoos as a way to show their allegiance to their gang. As a result, tattoos became associated with the yakuza and were seen as a symbol of criminal activity.

The modern perception of tattoos in Japan

Today, the perception of tattoos in Japan has not changed much since the 20th century. Tattoos are still associated with the yakuza and are often seen as a sign of criminal activity. This negative perception has led to many public facilities such as swimming pools and hot springs banning entry to people with visible tattoos.

The legal status of tattoos in Japan

While tattoos are not illegal in Japan, they are regulated by law. Only licensed medical practitioners are allowed to perform tattooing and many tattoo artists operate underground to avoid prosecution. Additionally, some prefectures have their own laws regarding tattoos and may ban them altogether.

The role of religion in the ban on tattoos

Religion also plays a role in the negative perception of tattoos in Japan. In Shintoism, which is one of the main religions in Japan, it is believed that the body is a gift from the gods and should be kept pure. Tattoos are seen as defiling the body and therefore go against these beliefs.

The influence of Western culture on tattooing

Despite the negative perception of tattoos in Japan, there has been an increase in Western-style tattooing among younger generations. Many young people see tattoos as a form of self-expression and rebellion against traditional Japanese society.

The impact on tourism

The ban on tattoos has had an impact on tourism in Japan. Many tourists who have visible tattoos may be turned away from public facilities such as hot springs and swimming pools. This has led to calls for a change in the law regarding tattoos to make them more accepted.

The future of tattooing in Japan

As attitudes towards tattoos continue to shift worldwide, it is possible that Japan may relax its laws regarding tattooing. However, it is unlikely that tattoos will ever become fully accepted or mainstream in Japanese society due to their association with criminal activity.

The cultural significance of body art

Body art has played an important role in many cultures throughout history. Tattoos have been used as a form of self-expression, religious devotion, and cultural identity. It is important to understand the cultural significance behind body art before making judgments about its acceptability.

The debate over personal freedom vs societal norms

The debate over whether or not tattoos should be allowed in public spaces raises questions about personal freedom and societal norms. While individuals should have the right to express themselves through body art, society also has a responsibility to uphold certain values and standards.


In conclusion, while tattoos have been around for centuries, they are still not widely accepted in Japanese society due to their association with criminal activity and defiling the body according to religious beliefs. While attitudes towards tattooing may shift over time, it is unlikely that they will ever become fully mainstream or accepted within Japanese culture.

Is it illegal to get a tattoo in Japan?

Although tattoos are not very common in Japan, they are not illegal. As of 2020, the law allows tattoo artists to work without a medical license.

What happens if you show your tattoos in Japan?

If you have visible tattoos in Japan, you may be prohibited from entering certain locations such as pools, bath houses, gyms, and many traditional Japanese inns called ryokans.

Is it OK to show tattoos in Japan?

Contrary to popular belief, tattoos are legal in Japan and are even considered a fashion statement by some people, particularly in Tokyo. However, tattoos are often concealed under clothing and are not as openly displayed as in other cultures.

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

In Japan, having tattoos may be viewed negatively by some companies when considering job applicants. Many Japanese companies refuse to hire individuals with tattoos, as they believe it suggests the person is not a team player or may have links to criminal activity. This attitude is still prevalent in Japanese corporate culture today.

Which country doesn t allow tattoo?

Tattoos are viewed as damaging to one’s body or “temple” in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and therefore go against Islamic teachings. They are considered a serious transgression.

Is it OK to wear shorts in Japan?

In Japan, it’s common to wear casual clothing outside of Tokyo’s business district. You can wear shorts, jeans, and camisoles as long as you don’t plan on visiting religious sites.

However, there are some signs of change in Japan’s attitudes towards tattoos. In recent years, more and more young people have been getting tattoos, and some celebrities and public figures have even started to openly display their tattoos. This has led to a growing acceptance of tattoos among younger generations in Japan.

In addition, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games may also have an impact on the perception of tattoos in Japan. Many athletes competing in the games have tattoos, which may help to normalize the practice in Japanese society. The Olympic Committee has already relaxed its rules on athletes with visible tattoos, allowing them to display their body art during competition.

It is also worth noting that while tattoos may still be associated with the yakuza, not all people with tattoos are involved in criminal activity. Many people get tattoos as a form of self-expression or as a way to commemorate a significant event or person in their life. It is important to recognize that not all people with tattoos should be judged or discriminated against based on cultural stereotypes.

Overall, the issue of tattoos in Japan is complex and reflects larger cultural values and beliefs. While attitudes towards tattoos may be changing, it is important to understand the historical and cultural context behind the ban on tattoos and to approach the issue with respect and understanding.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ads Blocker Image Powered by Code Help Pro

Ads Blocker Detected!!!

We have detected that you are using extensions to block ads. Please support us by disabling these ads blocker.