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(Not) Showing Off Your Tattoo in Japan


Tattoos in America are, in general, no big deal.  But I should give you a fair warning if you didn't already know:  They are considered unacceptable (by establishments/public opinion) in Japan.  You can thank old-fashioned anti-mafia sentiment for that, but in general don't be surprised if you find yourself escorted out of a sports club or public spa because of something artistic you decided to do back when you were 18.  (It doesn't matter that a butterfly on your ankle does not currently represent any known gangs in Japan.)

The younger generation doesn't mind that much, and as the years go by I wouldn't be surprised if the rules slacken quite a bit.  However, you should be prepared to accept the fact that you will have to either find a clever way to cover up your tattoo (FYI, band-aids are suspicious), or just resign yourself to avoid going to any spas, gyms, or public places wearing clothes that reveal your "youthful indiscretions."

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