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Tattoos 2008/1/20 05:18
Hi all I have seen the thread regarding tattoos in onsens but I have a slightly different variation to the Tattoo question.

I Lived in Japan for about 4 months a few years ago now. And still Have dreams of returning for a longer stay.

However I have wanted a Tattoo for some years and am seriously considering a Japanese dragon running down half to 3/4 of my arm.

My Main question would be what are current attitudes towards tattoos in Japan in general. I know they are still frowned upon.

But not sure if this is somthing that is more acceptable on a Gaijin?

Would it prevent me from getting a Job In Japan?

What are general reactions to seeing a tattoo just below a T-shirt sleeve?

I am seriously considering this, but at the same time. The taboo of Tattoos in Japan is the only thing holding me back.
by Dean  

... 2008/1/20 23:12
It is more tolerated certainly on non-Japanese, because it is known that the tattoos come from different cultural background in the western nations. However, the fact that it is acceptable on non-Japanese also means that someone with tattoos are acceptable only as long as they remain "visitors" - so if you come as a tourist, OK, if you intend to stay in Japan only for a limited time on an exchange program, maybe OK. But if your intention is to be in Japan on an extended period of time and become part of the community so to say - living here, working here, then I'd say you should reconsider - or at least, why don't you wait till you've been in Japan yourself again and have found out for yourself how tattoos are perceived among the people here? If then still you want to have some tattoo, with all the implications, then you can make more informed decision rather than asking here; not that it is useless to ask here, but you would want your own informed view on such a personal matter I would say :)
by AK rate this post as useful

... 2008/1/21 01:29
Hi thanks for your answer AK.

I think a mix of answers from people i been speeking to have made me realize that maybe I am not ready for a tattoo.

Thanks for the input.
by Dean rate this post as useful

... 2008/1/21 23:59
Tattoos are probably not a good idea if you intend to live in Japan. I have a tattoo that covers my entire shoulder and a tiny portion (about 5cmx2cm) shows just slightly below the sleeve of a tshirt. During a 3 week stay I got turned away from: a water park, a pod hotel and a standard hotel. Not to mention being excluded from going to most Onsen. I was told was ''No Tattoo'', end of discussion. After a couple of rejections I started wearing a jumper during check-in despite the swealtering summer temperatures. Tattoos are still associated with criminals, they are excluded from certain places so people can feel safe in the knowledge that they are in a criminal free environment.
by Nick rate this post as useful

The only people... 2008/1/23 15:21
The only people who care about your tattoo are you and the guy whos not going to hire you.
by Brigg rate this post as useful

Not only him, but 2008/1/23 15:40
Also the ones who won't let you into their pool/ gym/ onsen of course...

by Sira rate this post as useful

tattoos 2008/1/25 16:34
Tattoos should be understand in the appropriate context in Japan. Tattoos have been used in Japan for thousands of years, yet around the Edo period (150 years ago or so), tattoos began to be associated with organized crime. Tattoos are still associated with yakuza, yet these are traditionally tattoos that cover the entire body from the neckline down (and often aren't revealed until the clothing is removed).

Having a group of guys completely covered in tattoos descend upon an onsen, could be quite intimidating or terrifying for the average (often elderly) patrons. Having a small heart, or Bart Simpson on your ankle is likely to go unnoticed.

The average tattoo is unlikely to have the same implications. I've seen small tattoos in onsen and swimming pools here in Japan a number of times. Like other places, tattoos have become more popular in Japan (though not as popular) in the last few years and are generally more accepted.
by zoogy rate this post as useful

devotion 2008/1/25 18:26
The original poster has probably realised by now, but it's not the guy who hires you or the guy that let's you in the pool. It's all about the strangers who MIGHT look at you and MIGHT be scared at you.

The receptionist won't let you in, because other users might think your tattoo is scary. A banker won't hire you, because customers may not want to do business with you. A principal won't hire you, because students and parents might have trouble trusting you. And if they loose those users and customers and parents, the pools and banks and schools will be out of business.

And why would they be scared? Because tattoos basically show devotion, be it a fashion tattoo or a yakuza tattoo. Someone who gets a tattoo is either dumb or devoted to something enough to carve an eternal pattern on his body.

If you want a dragon on you, you're going to deal with it for the rest of your life no matter what others say. Let them critisize you or turn you down, but you're going to live with that dragon, because you love it.

If you love a girl name Winona, you can carve her name on you. If you break up with her, you can scratch off the "na" and make it "Wino" and say you're devoted to the drinking culture. But you can't erase the ink completely. People think they can erase it easily with razor surgery, but the truth is it's likely to fail.

So why are some modern tattoos accepted today? Because people are beginning to learn that some tattoos only show devotion for a girl or music or art and not for a gangster group. And a dumb guy not knowing what his tattoo should mean to him is still scary, btw.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Wino LOL 2008/1/26 18:42
As usually your answer made the Japanese point of view very clear, Uco-san.

This 'my customer might have an issue' approach is what I find in all articles about people being refused for various reasons to onsen, restaurants, bars, etc.. Very frustrating when you're involved in this (it is like talking to a wall) but it is deeply rooted in Japanese society.

BTW: it seems to me that the tattoos in Europe at least have moved on from the small cute private tattoos to the much bigger tattoos that are proudly shown even if that means only wearing only a T-shirt in winter. ^_^;;

by Kappa rate this post as useful

WRONG 2008/1/27 10:26
I disagree. Personally I have both arms fully tattooed, chest, back, side etc. I live in Japan, and apart from Onsens or Gyms I have not had any problems whatsover. No Japanese people have been scared of me, in fact many ask to have a close look at my tattoo. Old men, old women, young men, young women, children... I have a very large Japanese style sleeve with a Koi and Dragon, and they love looking at it. They tell me that they have never had the chance to look at a big tattoo up close, because on a Japanese person it symbolizes the Yakuza, but on a westerner they thing it shows a very strong interest in Japan. My tattoos done by very talented artists, so they don't look cheap and nasty though. Obviously, I don't show up to a my job wearing short sleeves, but apart from that.... I have never had a single problem.
by Darren rate this post as useful

?? 2008/1/27 13:38
Darren, I'm not really sure what you find "wrong". But it doesn't matter to me.
by Uco rate this post as useful

One westerner's view on tattoos 2008/1/27 16:02
Hmm. I'm sure many people may see this kind of deep meaning in tattoos, but to tell you the truth I got mine just as a decoration and for fun, just like wearing jewellery but obviously more permanent!

I have a small flower on my foot, it's a flower I like, but it doesn't mean anything in particular. Maybe that's frivolous, but it doesn't say anywhere that a tattoo has to be deep and meaningful, or that I have to know what it means to me.

If someone wants to get a dragon because they think it would look good, or that it would be fun, or for any other reason, go for it I say. As long as the person realises there may be consequences due to other people's perceptions of tattoos, then why not?

by Sira rate this post as useful

just know what you're doing 2008/1/27 17:42
Sira wrote;
"As long as the person realises there may be consequences due to other people's perceptions of tattoos, then why not?"

Actually, that was what I was trying to say. So many people have come to this Forum in the past panicing about their tattoo. They got it just for fun, and now they want to get rid of it or do something about it because of the inconveniences they're finally facing.

If you're going to have a tattoo, be it just for fun or fashion or whatever, just be responsible for it, that's all I'm saying. Otherwise, you can just do body-painting.
by Uco rate this post as useful

thanks 2008/1/27 18:41
Thanks for all your views, I had been very close to getting a half sleeve, and is something I gave a lot of thought.

However my apprehensions towards getting one given the situation of things I may want to do in the future show me that at the moment in time its defiantly not the right thing to do.

I personally wouldn't settle with a small point to point tattoo of a generic character.

Personally I believe a tattoo should have some type of meaning to the wearer, and they should be fully comfortable and ready to accept the negatives as well as the positives that go with them, in whatever society you are integrating into.

Once again thanks for all your input, you actually set my mind clear, and helped me to make the right decision.
by Dean rate this post as useful

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