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Foreigner with Japanese style tattoos 2018/6/27 14:45
When I saw Shichinin no samurai a few years back I became very interested in Japan. In the following years I watched a ton of Japanese movies, studied Japanese culture and customs and my fondness of Japan has grown massively. I am currently learning Japanese and plan to move to Tokyo for my masters degree.

I have quite a few tattoos and I am aware that some prejudice towards tattoos exists in Japan, for understandable reasons. I have no problem with that but what I want to know is how native Japanese people view foreigners with Japanese tattoos.

I have been wanting to get a Shichinin no samurai inspired tattoo sleeve on my arm done in traditional Japanese style for a while now but I always come back to the thought that natives might find it offensive or frown upon it.

Japanese style tattoos have become very popular in the west in recent years because they look amazing, but my reason for wanting a Japan inspired tattoo is a lot deeper than that.

Any input from natives, positive or negative is deeply appreciated.

by petursson  

Re: Foreigner with Japanese style tattoos 2018/6/27 16:46
Doesn't take a "native" to see that you are just another Japan-obsessed foreigner, which are a dime a dozen. Nothing wrong with that, but you seem to think you're special. You're not; nobody is.
by Firas rate this post as useful

Re: Foreigner with Japanese style tattoos 2018/6/27 21:25
It should be pointed out that Firas is himself a "dime a dozen" foreigner, but one with a huge attitude problem and chip on his shoulder.
by / (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Foreigner with Japanese style tattoos 2018/6/27 22:46
Thank you Firas for putting me in my place!

Any input from "natives" still greatly appreciated.
by petursson rate this post as useful

Re: Foreigner with Japanese style tattoos 2018/6/27 23:14
well, i think it is quite easy to anticipate how locals will recept you with tattoos.
think of an foreigner, who has a tattoo written in your local language or painting style.
* if the art is well made, noone will say or think something special.
* if it is really well done, some might admire its beauty
* if a person hates tattoos he will dislike it
* if it written / spelled wrongly or badly painted, then it is just awkward and embarrassing for the tattoo owner

so basically firas is right saying it in a nutshell (maybe a little unfriendly :-) )...

since you know the other implications of having tattoos in japan (e.g. connection with yakuza (which will not apply to you as a foreigner), problems in onsen,...), there is not much more to say to that

(disclaimer: also no "native" speaking here)
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: Foreigner with Japanese style tattoos 2018/6/27 23:41
Thanks Glimpigumpi for your answer!

The points you made are very good and I am aware of them, but one thing I might add is that there will be no Japanese letters or writing, so I can't make the mistake of misspelling something, thank god!

What I mean by Japanese style tattoo is that the shading/background of the tattoo is native to Japan.
Of course some people will dislike the tattoo if they don't like tattoos, since that is pretty commonplace in Japan and I am well aware of the onsen problem. I am from Iceland though and we have geothermal pools all over the country!

I have met a lot of people not native to Nordic countries with Viking/norse mythology inspired tattoos and I always appreciate that someone is interested in my country's heritage, so I just wondered if the Japanese shared my perspective :)

Again thanks a lot for your reply!
by petursson rate this post as useful

Re: Foreigner with Japanese style tattoos 2018/6/28 00:16
I've been a Japanese national all my life, I've been living in Japan most of my life, I've been a movie-goer for most of my life too, and agree that you'd be viewed as a "Japan-obsessed foreigner" for sure, because I can't imagine a Japanese person getting a tattoo just because (s)he is a fan of Shichinin no Samurai. If they love the Truck-Yaro movies or the Jingi movies, they might get tattoos, but not for Kurosawa movies. So you're a "henna gaijin" right there, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm not sure what you mean by "offensive or frown upon it". You seem to understand that a lot of locals find tattoos as a whole offensive or frown upon it. I don't think it makes a difference just because you're a foreigner. I understand that you're not aiming to get one of those stupid tattoos, but that doesn't make a difference either. Perhaps you have the wrong idea that those people assume that those with tattoos are yakuza. That's not the only issue. Many people are plain scare of people who would dare hurt their bodies to ink something permanent, or think that they have very different values.

But I don't think people will laugh at your back just as they would at those of the non-Japanese visitors with the stupid tattoos.

By the way, I like tattoos. Do I like people wearing tattoos? That depends on the people. I wonder if I have answered your question.
by Uco rate this post as useful

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