Do You Know How Hard It Is to Get A Tattoo in Japan


When it comes to Japan, we often feel that the Japanese are “culturally diverse” and are extremely tolerant of all kinds of subcultures. For example, Japan is one of the few countries that allow the porn industry to exist legally.
Japan is a booming AV country. all kinds of goddesses exist in our computers.
Surprisingly, however, tattoos have long been “differently treated” in Japan because of the relationship between tattoos and criminal gangs. Anyone with a tattoo, regardless of their occupation, usually cannot go to a public swimming pool, spa, beach, basketball court or even a gym.
It takes legal risks to be a tattoo artist in Japan.
In 2015, there was an unprecedented “Tattoo Crisis” in Japan, when Japanese tattoo artist Masuda was convicted of a crime that few people know.
The police initially visited his tattoo studio because he bought medicines from a pharmacy, and Masuda’s name was on the pharmacy list. He was subsequently arrested for against the practicing physician law, which prohibits anyone other than a licensed doctor from being engaged in a “medical practice” program.
Since then, the bill has been used to combat Japanese tattooists. Masuda said: “Being a doctor takes a lot of time and money, and it’s ridiculous to think that you can get a medical license to become a tattoo artist,”
A court in Osaka has maintained a ruling that only doctors can legally manage tattoos on an appeal, which means that tattoo artists will technically commit crimes every time they pick up a tattoo machine.
In 2015, after Masuda was fined 300,000 yen ($2,700), he decided to appeal (he lost last month, despite a halving of the fine) and co-founded a non-governmental organization called “Save Tattooing in Japan”. The organization now has about 200 tattooists and fights for their right to practice the free choice of body art.
Kiyoshi Shimizu, who runs the organization with Masuda, said that as far as he knows, the other 20 tattoo artists are facing the same allegations, 10 of whom were fined 300,000 yen. Violation of the “practicing physicians law” may result in three-year imprisonment or a fine of up to 1 million yen. It’s too difficult to be a tattoo artist in Japan. Be careful, or you may be in prison.
Foreign tourists are restricted in their actions
Before the 2020 Summer Olympics, Japan is preparing for the 40 million inbound tourists. However, few foreigners will realize that their tattoos will have a negative impact on their trip to Japan.
Last year, a foreign friend went to Okinawa for a holiday. (Okinawa is a semi-temperate island called “Hawaii of Japan.”)
A friend who lives in Hong Kong warned her that the big butterfly tattoo on her back would cause discrimination. She called the hotel and wanted to make sure if she could use a swimming pool or a hot spring. They all refused. At the resort’s reception and swimming pool, there is a huge sign that says ‘No Tattoo’.”
This policy is very common in Japan and also shows people’s deep-rooted prejudice against tattoos. Most spa officials also do not allow customers with tattoos to enter. The reason is that “this rule was originally intended to eliminate those organized criminals that intimidate others by displaying tattoos.” The Japanese Spa Association is also quite embarrassed and even suspected of shrinking responsibility. “There are really no reasons to force the hot spring facilities to allow tattooers to enter their place, which can only be decided by the operators.”
In the Japanese public, this rule has existed for a long time and does not cause strong protests because “tattoos are generally unacceptable by society in Japan.”As time goes by, especially the attitude of the younger generation change, modernization and the number of inbound tourists increases, managers begin to reconsider their policies. Some hotels consider providing stickers for visitors to cover small tattoos. The foreign friend said that her tattoo was too big to cover with a sticker. “I think this is a confusing rule,” she said. “I am obviously not a member of the Japanese gangster.” And obviously these stickers are only useful for small tattoos, but they can’t cover tattoo sleeve or back tattoos.
Tattoo ban in Japan
Japan has a long and dark relationship with tattoos. In the 19th century, an absolute ban on tattoos continued until 1948, when the US military lifted the ban during the occupation. Later, the gang began to use them to mark themselves. Although there is no explicit prohibition of tattoos, the country is still prejudiced against tattoo carriers. Ironically, Japan is home to many tattoo artists in the world.
For example, Horiyoshi III is considered to be the masters of traditional Japanese tattoos. He has a museum in Yokohama that specializes in his work. In 2012, Somerset House in London also hosted an exhibition to show his tattoo designs.
Japan is not like the United Kingdom or the United States, but it is not like China or South Korea either. There is no licensing system for tattoo artists, and there is no law to regulate the tattoo industry, so tattoo artists can only work in the legal gray area. In contrast, Japanese acupuncturists must be licensed under government-certified schools and subject to the “Tuina, Shiatsu, Acupuncture and Massage Therapist Act”.
Japanese people have prejudice to tattoos
In fact, in addition to foreign tourists, the attitude of Japanese people to tattoos is also biased. If a star in the entertainment industry gets a tattoo, even if it is to commemorate the family, it is difficult to get an understanding of the people. Japanese male star Ryucheru and his wife are famous in the Japanese entertainment industry. The two appeared in front of everyone as a couple, and in 2016 they announced the marriage.
When their baby was born, Ryucheru posted a picture of his own tattooed arms on the Internet, one with his son’s name and another with his wife’s name.
It instantly boiled on the Internet. Fans expressed disappointment with Ryucheru’s behavior, and he was a public figure. Many people thought that his behavior was very inappropriate.
Even the Japanese program made Ryucheru’s behavior into a program for analysis and made a questionnaire survey.
“What was the first reaction when you saw the person with the tattoo?”
51.1% said they were uncomfortable, and 36.6% said it was terrible.
“What do you think of when hearing “tattoos”?”
55.7% of people would associate with fugitives, and 47.5% would associate with crime.
A few days later, Ryucheru explained the behavior of his tattoo.
“I was mentally prepared before I posted my tattoo photo, but I didn’t think that everyone’s prejudice was so heavy. Once my father got a dragon tattoo on the back to remember my birth, and this tattoo made me very happy. When I got its meaning, I made up my mind to imitate my father’s behavior on the day I got married and had children. Tattooing my family’s names on my body means using this body to guard their smiles. Why can’t it be announced to the public?”
For the current Japanese prejudice against tattoos, Ryuchell also wants to say: “Is it necessary to accept a society with prejudice? I choose to change such a society.”
The prejudice against tattoos from the mainstream of society can not change in a day. However, with more and more young people’s understanding of the “free tattoo” and the understanding of tattoo culture, I believe that this trend of “tattoo discrimination” can also gradually change.
In Asia, including Japan, tattoos have also become a fashion rather than a patent of the gangster. I also hope that one day, people all over the world can get a tattoo as long as they want and will have the “tattoo freedom”

Leave a Reply