TOKYO, Japan – The Japan Tourism Agency will survey “onsen” hot springs nationwide on their no-tattoo policy as many foreign visitors sporting such body art have been perplexed by the restriction at many of the facilities, NHK reported Thursday.
Many public bathhouses have long denied entry to tattoo-bearing guests due to their traditional associations with yakuza, a sight they feel would scare other patrons. But the policy has baffled casual and ethnic tattoo users, especially those from abroad.
The agency will start polling 3,700 inns and hotels with public baths, asking them why and how they turn away tattoo-bearers and whether they have run into trouble with guests over the policy, according to NHK.
“Many of the foreign tourists have tattoos for fashion and ethnic reasons. Onsen is an important tourism resource for tourists to learn the Japanese way of living and culture. We would like to get a better grasp of the situation and deal with it,” agency commissioner Shigeto Kubo was quoted by NHK as saying.