Folks with tattoos certainly love to show them off. And in America, that's easy - body art is often admired and celebrated. The same can’t be said for Japan. In fact, having even the smallest amount of ink on your body can get you banned from a some popular places.
According to a government survey, 56% of Japanese hotels won't allow someone with a tattoo to enter public bathing areas, which means tourists with ink are now allowed to visit Japanese onsens, or hot springs. While this many not sound like a big deal, a past survey found that the popular spas were the reason one-third of tourists visited Japan in the first place.
But the ban isn’t in place simply because Japan doesn’t like tattoos. It seems the country associates such ink with members of the Japanese mafia - the yakuza - so the ban is a way to keep them out of public institutions.
On a positive note, it does seem that some onsens are lightening up the rule. Government agencies have convinced them to allow tattooed non-Japanese tourists to visit their establishments, although the ban can still apply to Japanese visitors.