Japan Legal Tattoos
The relationship between tattoos and Japan is very stormy. The country is known to be less welcoming than many others when it comes to visitors with tinted skin, but lately, things are changing. The common misconception about tattoos is that they represent yakuza (Japanese mafia) compounds, but in reality this is not the case. Japan`s relationship with tattoos has been part of the nation`s history since the beginning of recorded times – it`s more than just up close. ファッションタトゥー (Modetatou): Used to distinguish between tattoos worn by criminals and tattoos worn by other people “for fashion”. The tattoo was, in fact, for several centuries an ignominious sign to publicly mark criminals. The art of tattooing in Japan developed mainly during the Edo period and was widely used in all classes of society. However, it was strictly banned during the Meiji era and until 1948. The golden age of yakuza movies in the 1960s-70s, in which tattooed bodies were widely shown, certainly contributed to tattoos being associated with the mafia in the public mind (even though yakuza tend to avoid distinctive traits such as tattoos). Although legal, those who have tattoos in Japan – whether local or tourist – often face a variety of problems. In fact, they are often forbidden to enter public places, such as: Japan is not yet fully open to tattoos, but the nation is on its way. Although legal, tattoos can cause minor disruption for even the most common people.
Tattoo rules also apply to everyone, especially tourists and foreigners. So, if you plan to visit Japan and you have tattoos, really pay attention to the rules. If you`re traveling to Japan to get a tattoo, be sure to do your research thoroughly. All in all, we wish you good luck! One question that many tattooed travelers ask themselves when they come to Japan is, “Should I cover my tattoos?” The short answer is “sometimes.” Many onsen baths still do not allow guests to use the facilities with exposed tattoos. If you have a smaller tattoo that is easily covered by a bandage or patch, this is usually allowed, but it`s always best to check ahead to avoid problems. If you have bigger tattoos and absolutely want to try an onsen, go for an explicitly friendly tattoo. There is a list of these places on this site. We also have a guide to tattoo-friendly bathrooms here.
Laws against tattoos were enforced in 1936 after the outbreak of war between Japan and China, banning tattoos completely. The Japanese government considered tattooed people to be problematic. It wasn`t until 1946 that tattooing became legal again. It is important to point out that the Irezumi tattoo style does not reflect the truly traditional Japanese tattoo art. Irezumi was clearly used for a purpose, and even today, people simply don`t use this term in the context of tattoos. タトゥー (armadillo): Similar to Irezumi, but often refers to tattoos made with a machine, Western-style tattoos, and tattoos worn by foreigners. As Japan has become a globalized nation, the popularity of tattoos exclusively for fashion has also increased. Although exact figures are not available on the number of people in Japan, there are many tattoo parlors in the capitals. But we decided to investigate whether it`s true or not, let`s dive in! Let`s find out if tattoos are legal or illegal in Japan! Before we get to the main topic, it`s important that we dive a little deeper into the history of tattoos in Japan. Now, the world-famous traditional Japanese tattoo art was developed hundreds of years ago in the Edo period (between 1603 and 1867). The art of tattooing was called Irezumi, which literally translates to “insert ink,” and it was a term used by the Japanese at the time to refer to what is now known as tattoos. The history of tattoos in Japan is vast.
Although this art form was never generally considered an art form by Japanese courts and much of the public, it has become an iconic style popular around the world. And while there is a narrative shift in the art form with the recent legalization of the practice in the country, there is also hesitation, as many fear that possible government regulations will replace the artistic vision. In addition, the cultural taboo and association with crime is still pervasive, but at least now, tattoo artists are free to practice their form as a means of subsistence. www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/09/18/national/crime-legal/japan-tattoo-artists-no-medical-license/ Japanese tattoo culture dates back to the Jomon period (about 10,500 BC to 300 BC). Historians have found clay figures associated with this period that had markings on their bodies representing tattoos or other body modifications such as scars. During these years, it was common for the Japanese to use tattoos as forms of punishment. In fact, punishment with a tattoo – especially on the forehead – was first recorded in 720 AD. This form of punishment was reserved for those who committed the worst crimes. In many countries, such as South Korea and now Japan, tattoo artists were legally banned from practicing if they did not obtain a medical license. Basically, you had to become a doctor to become a tattoo artist.
Alternatively, if you were a tattoo artist in Japan arrested without a medical license, you could be fined up to 1 million yen ($9,563) and/or three years in prison. To get a better idea of how much population might be colorful, visit one of the most popular beaches outside Tokyo in Chiba, Hayama or Enoshima and you might be surprised! As the nation prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the Rugby World Cup, you can expect the country`s exposure and subsequent popularity of tattoos to increase. For today`s topic, we decided to look at the status of tattooing in the Far East. Japan. Today, Japan is known around the world for its incredible tattoo styles that revolve around historical and cultural symbols. However, most of us know that tattoos in Japan are often worn by members of the Japanese mafia, which is not a good place to start when we talk about illegal tattoos there. For example, if there is a sign that says: No tattoos, that`s all. There are no exceptions. That is not up for debate. In this case, even a small butterfly, kanji sign or a nice Hello Kitty tattoo is not allowed. No tattoo is not a tattoo. There is no point in arguing about this.
That`s why you can`t just stumble upon a tattoo parlor in Japan. Tattoo artists keep their work discreet, largely because the majority don`t have a doctor`s license. Fortunately, in September 2020, Japan`s Supreme Court ruled in favor of tattoo artists who don`t need to be doctors to be tattoo artists. Nevertheless, previous struggles remain, as tattoo artists tend to face criticism and prejudice from the public, as many Japanese (of the older generation) still associate tattoos and tattoo businesses with the underground, crime, and other negative associations. When tattoos are banned, they are usually clearly advertised with signs that say 入れ墨禁止 (irezumi kinshi, “No tattoo”) and negotiations are useless. Amusement parks may also refuse you tattoos deemed inappropriate. Some beaches and public pools may also prohibit tattoos, but there is no general rule. This varies from place to place, so it`s best to Google before you go. In general, however, beaches tend to be softer than pools. The first record of tattoos used as punishment in Japan dates back to 720 AD. The criminals who had committed the most serious crimes had their foreheads tattooed so that civilians could see the gravity of their crimes. This technique has evolved over time, but has continued to be a characteristic of a criminal.
Of course, Japanese tattoo art evolved beyond the Edo period. The most notable development of Japanese tattooing took place under the influence of Japanese ukiyo-e on wood. This artistic style included landscapes, erotic scenes, kabuki actors, and creatures from Japanese folklore. As it was widely used, ukiyo-e art quickly became a source of inspiration for tattoos throughout Japan. The question of what the Japanese think about tattoos today often arises, but has no clear answer. Older people – those of the baby boomer generation – may have some degree of prejudice about tattoos due to the history of yakuza movies and more conservative values in general. Regardless, the country is seeing signs of change, and while there will always be resistance to change, there`s no denying that there is a growing trend toward tattoo acceptance that is likely to spread further in the coming years. ▼ Although hot springs are a conflict spot for tattoos, some hot springs like this have compromised with views of Mount Fuji for tattooed guests. As wonderful as it sounds, tattoos are still frowned upon in some parts of the world.