7 Onsen in the Kanto Region Where Tattoos are Accepted
I’m sure there are some readers who haven’t been able to enter an onsen (hot spring) in Japan because of their tattoos. And I’m sure there are many of you from overseas who aren’t completely satisfied and wonder, “Why can’t I enter if I have a tattoo?” But this is an aspect of Japanese culture where preconceived notions regarding tattoos are deeply embedded in the everyday life of Japanese people. Today we’ll be sharing information on the relationship between Japanese people and tattoos, and we’ve also created a list of onsen where you can enter even with tattoos.
History of Japanese People and Tattoos
There are many Japanese people who feel that those with tattoos are scary/dangerous people and avoid them. The reason for this is that, until a little while ago, there were hardly any people in Japan with tattoos—so it felt like anyone who has a tattoo is a yakuza/gangster. On the onsen management side of things, they would like to prevent yakuza from entering their facility and onsen that allow people with tattoos get a bad reputation that drives away customers, which is why they’re denied entrance.
However, naturally, not all people with tattoos are bad people. There are young people in the world who get tattoos as body art or ethnicities that get tattoos for traditional purposes. But preconceived notions regarding tattoos are a part of culture deeply tied to life in Japan for a long time so it’s not something that can be erased so soon.
Onsen where tattoos are OK
So does that mean if you have a tattoo you can never enter an onsen? No! There are onsen in the outskirts of Tokyo where you can enter the baths even with tattoos. Currently in Japan people from many different sides who are talking to reconsider the system in place regarding tattoos.
Information: Asakusa, Tokyo, Map
2. Tsuru no Yu
Information: Tokyo, Map
3. Saito Yu
Information: Nippori, Tokyo, Map
*This is a sento and not an onsen (i.e. it does not use water from natural hot springs, but a public bath house that uses heated water).
4. Ikaho Ishidan no Yu
Information: Gunma, Map
5. Fuku no Yu
Information: Kawaguchi, Saitama, Map
6. Yamato no Yu
Information: Narita, Chiba, Map
7. Hoshino Resort: “Kai”
Information: Nationwide, Map
Hoshino Resort is a high class onsen-ryokan hotel with facilities throughout Japan. Since Oct. 2015 at “Kai” they started testing allowing entrance with tattoo cover stickers. You can enter the baths if your tattoo can be covered with a 8cm x 10cm sticker. The tattoo cover stickers are provided for free.
We hope that those of you with tattoos will use this list as a reference and take a relaxing soak in an onsen.
Related: Other onsen articles