FAQ: Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

A regular question which arises is how to travel in Japan with tattoos.  Further below I have also included a selection of reference articles on travelling in Japan with tattoos.

I will note that I myself do not have any tattoos so this was not an issue for us during our travels in Japan, but I appreciate that many of you have tattoos so this can become a real issue when travelling to Japan.

Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

You are also welcome to join our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!


Your Japan Planning Calendar

Are Tattoos Illegal in Japan?

A common question is whether tattoos are illegal in Japan – which is not surprising given that there is a long standing cultural stigma regarding where tattoos fit within the Japanese culture.  The answer is no, tattoos are not illegal in Japan but there is a long standing link between tattoos and illegal activities which has been difficult to change.

Travelling in Japan With Tattoos

Here is a selection of useful information and articles to assist you plan to travel in Japan if you have tattoos.

  • Visiting Japan With Tattoos by Tara Moss.  The tattooed traveller needs to be aware that many people in Japan don’t look on tattoos favourably. As a result of a dominant, anti-tattoo view and Japan’s fraught history with regard to tattooing, any traveller visiting Japan will likely find that having tattoos makes things more complicated for them – namely if they want to use a pool, spa, gym or enter traditional environments like a ryokan.  In this article Tara Moss shares the background of tattoos in Japan and her tips on how to how to plan ahead to avoid issues.  Click on this link to check out her article…
  • Ink and Onsen: How to Enjoy Hot Springs if You Have Tattoos by Martha Knauf.  Martha Knauf from the GaijinPot blog has written a very comprehensive article on how to access hot springs if you have tattoos.  She includes the history of why tattoos are treated the way they are in Japan, as well as tips and tricks to help those with tattoos have an enjoyable onsen visit.  Click on this link to check out her article…
  • Jakotsuyu Sento: Bathing with the Downtowners by Tokyo Cheapo.  Grigoris Miliaresis shares his favourite onsen in Tokyo – Jakotsuyu Sento.  He recommends this onsen because it is visitor friendly, tattoos are permitted, it is easily accessible and is very historic having been in existence since the Edo period.  Click on this link to check out his article…

Getting a Tattoo in Japan

A regular question on the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group is how to get a tattoo while travelling in Japan.  Below is an article to assist you with this question:

  • Inside Irezumi: Tips on Getting a Tattoo in Japan by Tokyo Cheapo.  Sarah Noorbakhsh shares some great tips on how to get a tattoo in Japan, including how to find a Japanese tattoo artist, how to contact the artist, typical prices and also Japanese tattoo terminology.  Click on this link to check out this article…

Travelling in Japan with Tattoos

Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group

You are also welcome to join my Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!


Your Japan Planning Calendar

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2 Comments

  • Those are some great articles, thanks for compiling these excellent resources!

    My Japanese husband is actually covered in traditional tattoos and I’ve witnessed first hand some shocking reactions from the locals.

    But… I think as a foreigner, if you simply show respect you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. ie. cover up when you go to any traditional place (shrine, ryokan, restaurant) & understand that many elderly people do not approve/ may be afraid of you.

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