Jul 16, 2018

Tattoos in Japan

As most of you know, tattoos are not very widely accepted in Japan yet. Most Japanese people associate very bad meanings with tattoos. Not to mention, many water parks and hot springs still don't allow people with tattoos to enter. While I don't personally have tattoos, my father does. And with that we are to today's story! (It is important to remember I live in the countryside for this story.)

My boyfriend has a part-time job at a large hotel. Every knows him as the boy with the American girlfriend, even people that he doesn't know call him this. We are the talk of the hotel. One day, maybe a month or so ago, my boyfriend told someone there that my father has tattoos and nothing else. Yesterday, my boyfriend came home from work telling me that people were telling him that it's so crazy his girlfriend's dad is in a gang! 

At no point did my boyfriend say anything like this because it is very much untrue. But somehow, my dad having tattoos turned into my dad being in a gang. This really sheds light on how they view tattoos! I have never had anyone assume my dad was in a gang so I was very surprised. Of course when my boyfriend told me this it had me rolling on the floor laughing because my dad is a huge softy! Haha! I can't even picture him in a gang. 

Tattoos in Japan photo

My dad and his tattoos. He doesn't have that many by American standards, but he has tons by Japanese standards.

My boyfriend and I have decided to have him show the picture above at work and see how people react. I think the result will be quite funny. (My boyfriend is coming to America to meet my dad in August, which everyone knows, so it will be interesting to see if they get worried or not.) 

We will see how it goes! Haha! Of course many people get frustrated by this kind of reaction, but I think it is better to find the humor in the differences rather getting worked up, or anything like that. 

Do you have tattoos? What has your experience been like?



Teacher, Traveler, Dancer -
Currently living in Gifu -
I love Japan, dance, cats, food, and fashion!


  • edthethe

    on Jul 16

    I know a Japanese girl with about the same amount of tattoos as your dad. when she visited me in my hometown actually one of our activities was going and getting a tattoo. that being said i have also been kicked out of two onsen and a shop(old people be cray cray) for my tiny tattoos. I have also been lectured a few times by random people on trains for my tattoo on my wrist. It is all from a concerned point of view but their are many people who view tattoos as marks of poor decisions rather than art. and then their are the select few who love them and dont care what society says

  • genkidesu

    on Jul 16

    I don't have any tattoos either but many of my expat friends in Tokyo do, and they find it hard to go to onsens unless it's a private in room onsen...even some beaches here have signs that you can't have tattoos and go in the water, which is so unusual to me. I'd say back home the majority of people have tattoos (even if it's a small one) and I do think eventually attitudes to them here will start to shift, even if it is a slow process.

  • ReishiiTravels

    on Jul 16

    @edthethe I can't believe someone kicked you out of a shop!! I am glad you got one since you wanted one!!

  • ReishiiTravels

    on Jul 16

    @genkidesu I have never heard of the beaches! That is crazy!! And I agree, I think it will be a slow process, but they will get there.