The Japan Tourism Agency has urged operators of onsen (hot springs) throughout the country to allow foreign visitors who have tattoos to use the facilities.

A Japanese onsen.
A Japanese onsen.

Tattoos have long been associated with yakuza – organised crime gangs – and bathers with tattoos are typically turned away. However, a representative of the tourism promotions group has asked that onsen operators take into account the cultural background of their foreign guests, in a bid to give more overseas visitors the chance to enjoy the Japanese onsen experience.

Tattoo artists and body art aficionados make for Tel Aviv tattoo festival.
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There was some controversy in  2013 after a New Zealand woman with traditional Maori face tattooing was refused entry to an onsen in Hokkaidō. Read more: japantimes.co.jp 

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