Tattoos and Onsens

Discussion in 'Passport' started by inky, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. inky

    inky Hard Yards

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    I was just flicking through the Japan bible and read that tattoos aren't looked at too favourably in a lot of Onsens.

    Is this common?

    Has anyone had any hassles?
     
  2. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    yes they are not really welcome there. No one would ever say anything as they are very polite...but if you want to respect their ways and culture I'd say stick to your on bathroom.
     
  3. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    I'm thinking that if the japanese wish to attract overseas visitors, they they may need to relax a little and accept that tattoos are accepted in other cultures.

    i can understand if a Japanese guy is covered in tattoos is an issue for them, but, for example, a 4ft 6 blonde lady with a few tattooes (particularly of say butterflies?) is hardly threatening
     
  4. churchy

    churchy One of Us

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    you'll also run into similar difficulties at capsule hotels. my understanding was that it was a yakuza thing. as crystal says, stay covered up out of respect.
     
  5. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty
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    Never had a problem and been in many onsens and had friendly chats with plenty of Japanese people in the onsens. I wouldn't stress. Just make sure you follow the rules with taking off shoes, not getting the dry areas wet, washing down before hopping in the onsen etc etc.
     
  6. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty
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    Can't say I've noticed, but then I don't recall seeing many people with Tatts in Onsens (Haven't seen too many foreigners in many of the the ones I've been in for that matter).

    I would have thought though if you followed normal onsen ettiquite you should generally be ok.
     
  7. damian

    damian A Local

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    Children Australians say the darndest things. [​IMG]

    How about the Japanese attract foreign visitors who are able to adapt to/observe local culture and custom??

    [I have no problems with tattoos. Indeed I find it amusing that so many Japanese do have a problem with them, but that is beside the point]

    Cregs - some people seem to have no problems at all, whilst others seem to run into issues.
     
    #7 damian, Dec 20, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2013
  8. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty
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    I think that just as long as you respect the onsen ettiquite, are not rowdy, are polite I think it is unlikely you will have any issues. If someone does take a dislinking to it, just apologise and leave, but I really doubt that would happen.
     
  9. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    [​IMG]
    scary- please leave.
     
    #9 Donza, Dec 20, 2010
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  10. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    I'd say it depends on the onsen.
    (and the size of the tattoo)
     
    #10 Donza, Dec 20, 2010
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  11. damian

    damian A Local

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    ^ Agreed Smitty, that's my take on it. If someone did have exception, there is not much you can do other than say sorry and leave. However expecting the locals to adapt to you is not at option (the Japanese already quietly and politely tolerate a lot of un-Japanese habits in foreigners as it is)
     
  12. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty
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    Sure, but you're probably not going to know unless you take your kit off and then someone sees them. However it's not something I have ever been worried about. Just be friendly and follow the onsen ettiquite.
     
    #12 smitty484, Dec 20, 2010
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  13. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    Unless youre Todd Carney
    [​IMG]
     
    #13 Donza, Dec 20, 2010
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  14. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty
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    Haha yeh or if you have as many tats as the guys above.
     
  15. damian

    damian A Local

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    What kind of moran would get a tattoo anyway??! /obvious troll
     
  16. seekingpow

    seekingpow One of Us

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    I have also noticed some westerners taking a sneaky tinny of Yebisu into some onsens.
    There are respectful, follow the etiquette and are non rowdy but I was always curious if this would be viewed as a breach of Japanese etiquette (It would be tempting to do but I have never done it out of fear of offending their culture)
     
  17. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    I might be wrong, but I think thats where the mistrust of tattoos in Japanese society stems from-"yakuza".
     
    #17 Donza, Dec 20, 2010
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  18. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    I'd never take a drink into the onsens i've been too in Nozawa.
    However Niseko- no worries.
     
    #18 Donza, Dec 20, 2010
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  19. seekingpow

    seekingpow One of Us

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    I stayed at the Hirafutei last season (hardly a 'traditional' onsen) and noticed a few westerners discretely doing it.
    Was usually blokes who had come in from night skiing after dinner when the onsens had emptied of locals.
     
  20. damian

    damian A Local

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    Yes.

    It is considered pretty gross to consume food/drinks in a public bathing facility. Add in the intoxication factor of alcohol and it is frowned upon, no doubt.

    Some westerners seem to think they have the right to form a set of rules for themselves, bugger local rules. What they do not realise is that the onsen they decided to drink in during their 10 day holiday is the same onsen that the farmers in the valley go to every week ever year, for decades. It is their home, not just a tourist attraction for people who think they temporarily own the place in winter.

    However there are times and places were the Japanese do it themselves, as it their right.
     
    #20 damian, Dec 20, 2010
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  21. ODNT

    ODNT Part of the Furniture

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    Damian , its common having a tattoo these days, olympians have the circles etc . For me the moron tattoos are hate & **** across the nuckles & face etc Ive run into a couple of morons without tatoos as well. The full body tattoos are the ones that may concern, otherwise like smitty said, just mind your business & be quite & polite. no probs [​IMG]
     
    #21 ODNT, Dec 20, 2010
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  22. damian

    damian A Local

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    For clarification, I do not think a tattoo makes you a moron. I was pre-empting the usual mealy mouthed and entirely off-topic input from the peanut gallery. [​IMG]
     
    #22 damian, Dec 20, 2010
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  23. gareth_oau

    gareth_oau Pool Room
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    and thats a very pig-headed, narrow-minded, arrogant thought-provoking statement. whats childish about my the statement?

    if I had a few tattoos, (which many people do) I suspect it would be quite difficult for me to try out a tourism promoted onsen and follow the Japanese custom of going naked, and covering my tattoos.

    all i am saying is that if the Japanese wish to attact overseas visitors, ie that is their desired goal, then they need to be a bit more flexible than the visitors. isnt it 'custom' to cater for the guest?

    and no, I don't have any tattoos
     
    #23 gareth_oau, Dec 20, 2010
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  24. damian

    damian A Local

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    Absolutely nothing childish about it at all. I was borrowing a common catch-phrase and editing to my meaning, which is, at the risk of generalising, that some Australians seem to think that everyone else needs to adapt to accommodate them.

    For full disclosure: I am Australian and I have a tattoo of an anchor on for arm.
     
    #24 damian, Dec 20, 2010
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  25. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    I did a bit of research on this, depends where you go, in Niseko no issues. They would have to expect it and would have seen a lot of it there....

    Some other more traditional locations will not allow it and even have signs up. What ya gonna do, rules is rules, as soon as you get inked you become a criminal.
     
  26. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    They don't need to attract tattooed overseas visitors to onsens, so I don't think it is "their desired goal"...

    That being the case, why SHOULD they change their cultural norms??
     
    #26 Sandy, Dec 20, 2010
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  27. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    The problem with that argument is the juxtaposition. Just as an example let's say Australians don't like people wearing things over there heads and faces... why SHOULD we change our cultural norms - just playing devils advocate....

     
  28. Crystal

    Crystal Sand skier extraordinaire
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    gareth..... I would say NO Japanese people don't have to bend when it comes to onsen, that is their bath and it has very strict rules and customs. As said above it's their everyday thing and not a tourist thing at all.

    Anyway my take is ...
    If you can't respect all the rules that go with Onsen, stay home in your western lodge and use your own bathroom facilities there. It's not like the local Japanese in some of these villages have much choice on bathing...so why should they have to bend to westerners in their own bathroom.
     
  29. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    [​IMG]
     
    #29 Texy, Dec 20, 2010
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  30. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    You could say that's about security, in the same way you're not allowed to wear a bicycle helmet into the bank.
    But at SOME stage people wearing things over their heads and faces will need to go into a bank, so security rules apply.

    In the case of tattoos in onsens, you don't have to go in there.... yes, the rule is quaint, but it's a cultural rule. The same as showering to wash dirt off is an onsen rule, but should they change the rule because a few aussies don't want to wash before going in??
     
    #30 Sandy, Dec 20, 2010
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  31. Go Native

    Go Native One of Us

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    I have a tattoo on my shoulder and have been in pretty much every onsen in this region over the years. Never had an issue. Also been to many onsens where the yakuza appear most welcome (had plenty of onsens with local yakuza). So as far as I can tell up this way it is not much of an issue.
     
  32. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    Nope, but this is not really about that is it - Tattoos in Japan have criminal stigma based in Yakuza - not really a cultural tradition is it... more a form of discrimination. You have tattoos you are behaving like a criminal! You wear face and head covering into a bank you are behaving like a criminal.
     
    #32 Texy, Dec 20, 2010
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  33. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    I think of a onsen (well some of the smaller ones ) as a organisation like a bowling club or garden.. you have people going there every day for eons for piece of mind and relaxation. With that there should be an associated degree of respect.
     
    #33 Donza, Dec 20, 2010
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  34. Go Native

    Go Native One of Us

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    Ask locals who've lived in an area for sometime how it is viewed at a particular onsen. Tourists who know little more about Japanese culture other than what they've read in a guidebook aren't the best source for info on what is or is not acceptable in a particular region of Japan.
     
  35. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    What if it was a local who wrote the guide book? [​IMG]
     
    #35 Texy, Dec 20, 2010
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  36. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty
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    I think this is a good tip. Just check with your lodge owners/operators and get their opinion.
     
    #36 smitty484, Dec 20, 2010
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  37. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    No. The only people who used to wear tattoos were yakuza. THAT IS their culture, a mark that that's who they are... A cultural mark built up through hundreds of years....
     
    #37 Sandy, Dec 20, 2010
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  38. seekingpow

    seekingpow One of Us

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    In any case, I think Donza's comment shold be the reining rule of thumb. Westerners are guests and should respect the culture rather than trampling it. Just becaue they have paid hard earned to get there doesn't mean they can do what they please.

    It should be approached like visiting ones home.
     
  39. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    Frozen in time then Sandy ... not really, you're own words are contrary. I think "THAT IS" is rather "used to be" in all places, "still is" in some "not so" in others, things are changing, world changed so does popular culture, some people and places just haven't caught up. [​IMG]
     
    #39 Texy, Dec 20, 2010
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  40. Go Native

    Go Native One of Us

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    Just have a realistic idea of what the cultre actually is. Over the years I've heard some pretty weird ideas on what Japanese culture is supposed to be...mainly by people who've never been here for more than a week or two.
     
    #40 Go Native, Dec 20, 2010
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  41. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Many things in Japan ARE frozen in time....

    The paper bureaucracy, lack of street crime, bowing, strange business culture, the customer is God, etc....

    But it's not outsiders who should change it.... [​IMG]
     
    #41 Sandy, Dec 20, 2010
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  42. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    Nor is it, Japanese who are Tattooed and are not Yakuza would agree with my position I dare say [​IMG]
     
    #42 Texy, Dec 20, 2010
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  43. Go Native

    Go Native One of Us

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    Yeah Japan is doing sooo well sticking to their homogeneous way of thinking [​IMG]
     
    #43 Go Native, Dec 20, 2010
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  44. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    But not this issue it would seem.
     
    #44 Texy, Dec 20, 2010
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  45. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    By the same token, any Japanese people who are not yakuza who get tattoos, are accepting the fact that they may not get into some onsens..... but that's their choice.
     
    #45 Sandy, Dec 20, 2010
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  46. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    Many onsens ARE frozen in time.
     
    #46 Sandy, Dec 20, 2010
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  47. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    ergo will forever think all tattooed people are criminals.
     
  48. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room
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    It's their choice and their rules....
     
  49. Texy

    Texy Hard Yards

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    I don't think you hold that position generally Sandy, lest you believe any discriminatory, sexist, inhumane or other countries purported cultural beliefs (historical or otherwise) be so categorised.
     
  50. Go Native

    Go Native One of Us

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    Debito challenged that in court in regards to Otaru onsens and actually won! [​IMG]
     
    #50 Go Native, Dec 20, 2010
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