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Why do Japanese people not like tattoos?


Japan is a country with a rich cultural heritage, and tattoos have been a part of their history for centuries. However, it is still frowned upon in modern society, and many Japanese people view tattoos as taboo. This article will explore the reasons why Japanese people have negative attitudes towards tattoos and the cultural significance behind it.

The historical context of tattoos in Japan

In ancient Japan, tattoos were associated with criminal activity and were used as a form of punishment. Later on, during the Edo period, tattooing became more popular among the working-class people and was seen as a symbol of rebellion. However, in the Meiji period, the government banned tattooing due to its association with criminal activities.

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Tattoos and the yakuza

One of the primary reasons why tattoos are not accepted in Japan is their association with organized crime syndicates known as the yakuza. These groups have a long-standing tradition of using tattoos as a way of marking their members and displaying their allegiance to the gang. As a result, many Japanese people associate tattoos with criminal activity and violence.

The influence of religion and spirituality

Another reason why tattoos are not well-accepted in Japan is their connection to religion and spirituality. In traditional Japanese culture, the body is seen as sacred, and tattooing is believed to defile it. Additionally, many Japanese people believe that tattoos disrupt the body’s natural flow of energy or ki.

The importance of conformity in Japanese culture

Japanese culture places great emphasis on conformity, and tattoos are often seen as a sign of individualism or rebellion. Many Japanese people prioritize fitting into society over expressing their individuality, making tattoos an unpopular choice for many.

The stigma attached to visible tattoos

In Japan, visible tattoos are particularly stigmatized because they are associated with criminal activity and defiance. Many establishments have strict no-tattoo policies to prevent any association with organized crime or violence.

The impact of Westernization

In recent years, Western culture has become more prevalent in Japan, leading to greater acceptance of tattoos among younger generations. However, many older generations still hold negative views towards tattoos due to their association with traditional Japanese values.

The role of media in shaping opinions

Media plays a significant role in shaping public opinion towards tattoos in Japan. Television shows and movies often portray tattooed characters as villains or criminals, further reinforcing the negative stereotypes associated with them.

The influence of education and career opportunities

In Japan, individuals with visible tattoos may face discrimination when it comes to education or job opportunities. Many employers have strict grooming policies that prohibit visible tattoos or other forms of body modification.

The rise of underground tattoo culture

Despite the negative stigma attached to tattoos in mainstream Japanese society, there is an underground tattoo culture that has gained popularity among younger generations. Some young people see tattoos as a form of self-expression and rebellion against traditional values.

The future outlook for tattoo acceptance in Japan

As Western cultures continue to influence Japan’s younger generations, it is likely that attitudes towards tattoos will become more accepting over time. However, it may take several decades before tattoos become truly mainstream in Japanese society.


While tattoos may be widely accepted in other cultures around the world, they remain taboo in Japan due to their association with criminal activity, religion/spirituality beliefs, conformity expectations, stigma attached to visible body art, media portrayal and limited educational/career opportunities for those who choose to get them. Despite this societal pressure against them from older generations who uphold traditional values, underground tattoo culture has emerged among younger generations who see them as a means of self-expression and individuality.

Why does Japan not allow tattoos?

In Japan, tattoos have traditionally been viewed negatively because of their association with criminal organizations, particularly the Yakuza. However, the history of tattoos in Japan goes back much further than their association with organized crime.

Do Japanese people not like tattoos?

In Japan, tattoos have a negative connotation as they are associated with organized crime. As a result, many places such as beaches, hot springs resorts, and gyms do not allow people with tattoos to enter. Additionally, companies may refuse to hire applicants who have tattoos.

Are Japanese offended by tattoos?

In Japan, tattoos are often viewed as unacceptable, which may lead one to reconsider getting one in this country due to social stigmatization. Locations such as hot springs, bathhouses, gyms, and public beaches are likely to deny entry to those with tattoos.

Why tattoo is taboo in Japan?

Tattooing in Japan became stigmatized around the 7th century, when it became associated with criminal activity. Those who committed crimes would sometimes receive tattoos as a form of punishment, serving as a visible reminder of their wrongdoing to others.

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

Do tattoos have a negative impact on job opportunities in companies? In Japan, many companies refuse to hire individuals with tattoos, as they are perceived as anti-social or linked to anti-social behavior.

Why are tattoos illegal in Korea?

For centuries, tattoos in South Korea, known as munshin, have been seen in a negative light. In the Koryo dynasty, which reigned from 918 to 1392 A.D., individuals were forcefully tattooed on their faces or arms as a way of marking them as slaves or listing the crimes they had committed.

It is important to note that not all Japanese people hold negative views towards tattoos. In fact, there are some individuals who view tattoos as a form of art and self-expression. However, these individuals may still face discrimination and judgement from others who hold traditional values.

In recent years, there have been efforts to change the negative attitudes towards tattoos in Japan. Some tattoo artists and advocates have started campaigns to educate the public on the history and cultural significance of tattoos in Japan. This has helped to change some people’s perceptions and increase acceptance towards tattoos.

There have also been some changes in policies regarding tattoos in certain industries. For example, some hot springs and public pools have relaxed their no-tattoo policies to accommodate foreign tourists who may have tattoos. However, these changes are not yet widespread and many establishments still maintain strict no-tattoo policies.

Overall, while tattoos may still be viewed negatively by some in Japanese society, it is important to recognize the significance they hold in Japan’s cultural history. As society continues to evolve and become more accepting of individuality and self-expression, it is possible that attitudes towards tattoos will continue to shift towards greater acceptance.

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