Got tattoos? You won't be allowed in most Japanese onsens, but there's a new website to help you out

13th Jun 18 | Lifestyle

You'll now be able to find a hot spring that doesn't enforce strict rules on ink.

young woman relaxing in hot springs

Your grandparents might think that having a tattoo will hinder your job prospects, but perceptions are changing – particularly as an increasing number of young people are going under the needle.

However, one place that still has a relatively conservative stance on ink is Japan. In fact, tattoos are so frowned upon that most onsens (hot springs popular with locals and tourists alike) ban anyone with body art.

This isn’t just the Japanese being ultra-prudish – it’s predominantly because tattoos are traditionally associated with the yakuza, the organised crime group equivalent to Italy’s mafia.

However, some onsens are relaxing their rules – in part because more people are getting tattoos for aesthetic reasons rather than for gang affiliations, and also because more tourists with ink are visiting.

That’s where Tattoo Friendly comes in – a new website that provides information on which baths accept people with tattoos.

Not only does the website give you a handy background on tattoos in Japan and the different types of hot springs you can visit, but most importantly, you can search for onsens in certain areas that will allow people with ink to visit.

Regardless of whether you’ve found an onsen that allows tattoos, it’s important you adhere to the traditional rules of onsen etiquette.

Don’t make the mistake of entering the baths in your bathing suit – you’re meant to be fully nude in the onsen. Any material is seen as dirtying the water. Most people bring a small towel with them and either place it on their head or on the side of the pool when they are soaking.

And remember – onsens are nothing like public swimming pools. Locals would consider it pretty rude if someone swam and splashed about in the baths, as they’re places for quiet reflection.

© Press Association 2018