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Guide to having Tattoos in Japan, which onsen allows tattoos
Guide to having Tattoos in Japan, which onsen allows tattoos

Is tattoo taboo in Japan? As some of you might know already, tattoos are considered quite taboo in Japan. If you travel to Japan with tattoos, you are probably wondering the dos and don’ts. Here is everything you need to know about having tattoos in Japan and some of the Onsen that allow tattoos. For those of you that have tattoos, hope this can help you to figure out what to do, what to expect and where you can go during your stay in Japan.

Why are tattoos taboo in Japan?

Although the view on tattoos has changed little by little over the years, tattoo is taboo and it can still be quite difficult for those who have tattoos to enter certain establishments in Japan, such as the famous hot spring, onsen

In the past in Japan, tattoos were used to mark those who committed a crime. More recently, tattoos are associated with the yakuza, Japanese crime organisations that are heavily involved in all kinds of businesses.

They are fewer in numbers today but for the older generation who remember the yakuza in their heyday, they may be uncomfortable being around tattooed Asians. Tattooed Caucasian or African-Americans, however, are viewed as ‘cool’ or ‘stylish’. In other words, in Asian communities, tattoos are the marks of a criminal; in Western communities they are a fashion trend. 

Close up image of a person with coloured arm tattoos.
Credit: Live Japan

What is it like having Tattoos in Japan nowadays?

Image of two people with coloured body tattoos.
Live: Tat2X Blog

Is tattoo taboo in the modern days? Working in Japanese companies with tattoos is also difficult. Many companies may be reluctant to hire tattooed individuals, and may request the ones they do hire to cover all tattoos. This is why most Japanese people don’t tend to have tattoos. 

In the past few years, Japan’s views on tattoos have shifted: tattoos are becoming more accepted and are viewed as forms of art rather than as signs of rebellion. More and more of the younger Japanese generation are getting tattoos and, while some may still stare at tattooed individuals walking down the streets, it’s more out of curiosity and interest, not judgement or disgust. 

Various Japanese celebrities have tattoos and are proudly showing them off. For example, ATSUSHI from EXILE has multiple tattoos on his body; one of his most famous tattoos is his Indian Warrior tattoo on his left chest. Another famous Japanese celebrity that has tattoos is Namie Amuro; she has a couple of tattoos on her left arm and a few on her left wrist. 

How to enter onsen with tattoos? 

Image of an outdoor Onsen
Credit: Japan Guide

Although things have been changing, there are still a large number of establishments that forbid tattooed people. For those of you that will travel in Japan with tattoos, beware that places such as, onsen, public baths, swimming pools, gyms and public beaches don’t always allow tattoos.

For those of you who have tattoos and who wish to experience the famous hot spring—one of the most special and beautiful parts about Japanese culture—we have gathered together some of the best options for you. Check out these options for when you travel in Japan with tattoos.

Firstly, there are two kinds of baths: onsens and sentos. 

Onsen (温泉)

Image of an open air Onsen
Credit: Afar

Onsen translates to “hot source”. To be qualified as an onsen in Japan, the source of the onsen has to be at least 25 degrees and has to meet certain criteria regarding water elements and mineral content. 

Sento (銭湯)

which onsen allows tattoos indoor sento
Credit: Your Japan

Sento translates to “coin” and “hot water”. Sentos are public baths and they’ve become more and more popular as homes in Japan are built smaller and smaller, making it harder for people to take baths at home. A lot more sentos allow tattoos than onsens due to their more casual nature. 

If you wish to enter an onsen that doesn’t allow tattoos, you can get a seal to cover up your tattoos when you travel to Japan with tattoos. The seals are easy to use and cheap. You can easily cover up your tattoos with these skin coloured seals and enjoy the onsen. Unfortunately, these will only work with smaller tattoos. If you’ve got larger tattoos, you can try out a sento instead. 

Here’s a list of onsens and sentos that allow tattooed people in.  

Sento

Daisantamanoyu 第三玉の湯 

which onsen allows tattoos Daisantamanoyu
Credit: 1010

This sento might not be the fanciest but it is located very conveniently just five minutes from Iidashi Station, in Shinjuku ward. Renewed in 2018, this place has high-concentration carbonic bath, jet bath, open-air bath and even sauna. 

Details

Price

  • Adult: 470
  • Children: 180
  • Sauna: 1000

Takaban Yu ぽかぽかランド鷹番の湯

which onsen allows tattoos Takaban Yu
Cedit: Timeout

Takaban Yu advertises their spring water with cyanuric acid that can speed up your metabolism and give your skin a glow. There are two types of saunas here: high-heat dry sauna, and salt sauna. They also have a beautiful outdoor sauna where you can enjoy the peace and quiet. On top of that, there are many different types of jacuzzis and baths here for you to experience. 

Details

  • Opening hours: 15:00-24:30
  • Closed: Friday, 1st, 3rd, 5th Thursday
  • URL: www.takaban-yu.com/
  • Address: 東京都目黒区鷹番2丁目2−1

Price

  • Adult 470
  • Children 180
  • Infant 80
  • Sauna 460

万年湯 Mannenyu

which onsen allows tattoos Mannenyu
Credit: Mannenyu

Mannenyu is situated in the very center of the city. It is just one stop, or about 15 minutes walk from Shinjuku, in the popular Shinokubo, Korea town. Mannenyu provides free body washes, shampoos and face towels. The inside of the facility is clean and comfortable with multiple baths for you to enjoy and relax in. 

Details

Price

  • Adult: 470
  • Children: 180
  • Kindergarten children: 80

Onsen 

Soshigaya onsen そしがや温泉

which onsen allows tattoos Soshigaya onsen
Credit: Tokyo Story

This onsen has a wide range of baths for you to experience. It is emphasised that the spring water they have here is “black spring water”, with elements that over the years have the ability to rejuvenate your body, skin and health. They have a mini swimming pool for their customers to swim in. Sauna is also available here at this facility. Outside the baths, there is a reading corner for those who need to take a breather. 

Details

Price

  • Adult: 470
  • Children: 180
  • Infant: 80
  • Sauna: 330

Shimizuyu 清水湯

which onsen allows tattoos Shimizuyu
Credit: Tattoo Friendly

Shimizuyu is one of the few natural onsen in Tokyo. They have two types of natural spring water: the golden spring water and the black spring water. As mentioned earlier when introducing the Soshigaya onsen, black spring water is said to have incredible elements that can nourish and rejuvenate. Golden spring water is said to have healing powers for those that have pains and injuries. 

Shimizuyu has various baths including jacuzzis and an outdoor bath. There is also a resting area to rest in if you’re feeling overheated. They have a rock bath as well, a bath that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. With rocks made from a mountain in Korea, it is said that lying in the rock bath fastens your metabolism and blood circulation, enhancing rest and sleep quality. Sauna is also available here with incense to enhance relaxation.  

Details

Opening hours

  • Weekdays 12:00~24:00
  • Saturday 12:00~24:00
  • Sunday  8:00~24:00
  • Closed: Mondays

Price

  • Adult: 470 yen
  • Junior high school student: 300 yen
  • Child: 180 yen
  • Kindergarten children: free
  • Rock bath: 1,400 yen (women only)
  • Sauna: 400 yen

Thermae-yu テルマー湯

which onsen allows tattoos Thermae-Yu
Credit: Japan Travel

Thermae-yu is amazing and deserves a small shout-out. It is one of the most popular place for people that travel in Japan with tattoos. Although they allow tattooed people to enter, they require them to cover them up with the aforementioned skin-coloured patches, available at the front desk. Also mentioned earlier, these patches will only work with smaller tattoos.

Thermae-yu is definitely a place you can enjoy for a long time. They have natural onsens, rock baths, aauna, massages, restaurants and cafes and a lot more. There’s also a huge open-air onsen. 

One of the most special parts about this place is their large variety of rock baths. They have five types of rock baths, divided between male and female. It is said that these rock baths have healing powers and the ability to relax and rejuvenate. 

If you want to find out more about this bath, check out our blog about Thermae-Yu here.

Japanese abbreviated words in temple

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Here is everything you need to know when you travel with tattoos in Japan. Is tattoo taboo? Well yes, but things are changing and you will come across more and more places that allow people with tattoos to enter. If you get a chance, definitely check out these Onsen that allows tattoos.

yiu may also check Thermae-Yu: An Onsen for the Tattooed blog here: https://flip-guide.com/japan-travel/thermae-yu-an-onsen-option-for-the-tattooed/?

If you have any questions or want to get in touch, feel free to DM us on Instagram or message us on Facebook Messenger! We would love to talk with you!

FLIP Guide Team

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The FLIP Guide team has discovered many hidden places in Japan, and has learned about numerous parts of Japanese society, and we are excited to share our knowledge with you!

FLIP GUIDE TEAM

Hey friend!

Just like you, we are foreigners from all around the world.

When we first arrived in Tokyo, we all found this city to be overwhelming, not sure where to begin.

During the years that we have lived here in Japan, we have discovered and visited countless famous tourist attractions as well as unique and underground places.

We are now proud to say that we are experts of Japan and would love to share the knowledge with all of you!

 

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