Japan surveys hot springs on no-tattoo policy

An Japanese onsen.

An Japanese onsen. Image by Jordi Sanchez Teruel / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Japan Tourism Agency is conducting a nationwide survey of the country’s onsen (hot springs) to assess why and how they have barred entry to visitors with tattoos. Onsen in Japan typically turn away inked bathers, as tattoos have long been associated with organised crime. However, tourism officials have acknowledged that many foreign tourists have tattoos for fashion or cultural reasons, and onsen are an ‘important resource’ for visitors interested in experiencing Japanese culture. In April this year, hotel operator Hoshino Resort Co announced it would distribute stickers to onsen guests to cover their tattoos, following feedback from a rejected Maori visitor. Read more: japantimes.co.jp

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