Users on Japan Today tell them they don’t want their children to see tattoos... but at the same time, they don’t want Japanese customers to leave. According to the article, Seiji Hori, a senior official at the Beppu City Ryokan Hotel Association in Oita Prefecture, says: “ Hotels and bathhouses at the popular Beppu Onsen hot-spring resort continue to be divided over whether to accept tattooed visitors, as the city hosts five Rugby World Cup matches.”
As the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are expected to bring in a high number of foreign visitors—the Rugby World Cup in specific draws in around 500,000 visitors to Japan—the conversation surrounds accepting foreign customers with tattoos. The controversial thoughts among public bath operators are split.
Some public bath facilities have decided to accept these customers in keeping with the “omotenashi” hospitality spirit. While the public bath industry is trying to find the best course of action, many operators are refusing the tattooed community entry.
“There was both support and opposition among our employees, but we decided to accept them in order to cooperate with the World Cup, an event that many citizens were involved in bringing to Japan,” said the president of the company that operates Hotel Kinsenkaku in Sanage Onsen, located about 30 minutes by car from Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture, according to Japan News.
Places like Solaniwa Onsen in Minato Ward, Osaka are asking foreign visitors with tattoos are asked to cover them with large stickers sold at the facility. The catch: “Those who can cover the body art with a maximum five stickers are allowed to enter.”
Public bath facilities in Yokohama, where many events, including the rugby World Cup finals are held, plainly do not admit visitors with tattoos.
“Tattoos have a strong image of antisocial forces and scare customers,” a city official said.
“The hotel usually bans guests with tattoos from bathing, with the aim of excluding organized crime syndicates, but has decided to allow foreign guests who have them during the World Cup,” it continued. “A few weeks prior to the World Cup, about 20 people from countries such as Australia and Britain had booked with the hotel. Although the hotel did not check whether those customers don tattoos, it has asked for Japanese guests to understand the exception, via its website and a notice posted in the facility.”
The Beppu Onsen website “ENJOY ONSEN” also lists about 100 places that will accept people with tattoos.
But what about the players?
According to the article, a World Rugby official mentioned that players “seem to voluntarily hide tattoos at pools and saunas in Japan.”
The World Cup runs through Nov. 2nd, but the issue (and tattoo discrimination) doesn't just affect foreigners. Custom bike builder Keinosuke “Keino” Sasaki from Fukuoka, Japan, tells INKED about his experience of Japan's tattoo discrimination against their own people.
“A few years ago, I went back to my hometown and met up with a friend and went to a restaurant. It is not a city area, it’s more suburban. My friend and I walked into the restaurant and the restaurant is empty," Sasaki said.
"It was the summertime so I’m wearing a t-shirt, and they said, ‘Sorry, reserved. Private party today.’ We went to the next one. Same thing. I realized, 'Right, maybe I should have worn the long sleeves.'”