Getting some ink done!

It’s common for Japanese water parks to ban people with tattoos from entering premises.

As the temperature rises in the summer, thousands of people throughout Japan head to local water parks to seek relief from the heat.

When foreigners venture to local water parks to cool off, just like they did several times last year back in their home countries. However, instead of wearing swimming trunks and sunscreen, they have to wear a long-sleeve shirts and long shorts in an attempt to hide their tattoos. That’s because Japanese water parks are barring entrance to anyone with tattoos.

“As a general rule, people affiliated with mobsters or criminal organizations are not allowed to enter the premises,” as stated on Tokyo Summerland’s Web site. “The same applies to people wearing tattoos.”

Of the five major water park facilities, only one place — Tobu Zoo Park — accepts those with tattoos, but only when guests cover them. The others — Yomiuri Land, Seibu-yuenchi Amusement Park, Fuji-Q Highland and Tokyo Summerland — said they restrict visitors with tattoos, regardless of their size or location.

Other parks, including Toshimaen Pool and LaQua, state on their Web sites that people with tattoos are not permitted. Similar rules apply at many onsens and public bath houses throughout Japan.

In Japan, many people of the general public connect people with tattoos to organized crime, better known as “yakuza” – an organized crime affiliation and are known for their extensive tattoos.

The managers of these water parks say that people who see tattoos are intimidated, and young children are scared, which is why in the past the park restricted people with ink from entering.

But now, as more people(even local Japanese) have been getting them as a fashion statement, the park adjusted its rules.

Some of these facilities say, “It is hard for us already to restrict all of them. That’s why we decided to ask them to cover them up instead refusing them.”

But at the same time, “its hard not to feel discriminated against, at least a little,” Most foreigners try to be sensitive to Japanese culture and don’t stick our chopsticks in the rice, but it seems that they aren’t sensitive to western culture where tattoos are accepted.

Even making a visit to Gold’s Gym in Tokyo, people have been asked to cover up their tattoos with tape if they planned on working out. And when they asked the gym for their money back, arguing that trying to lift weights with tape around their arms was difficult.

For foreigners, who have lived in Japan for more than a year, most won’t be surprised by these kinds of rules, but can still find it absurd.

It makes western people a little perturbed. We’re not Japanese mafia, we are foreigners, “I could see 20 or 30 years ago, but in this day and age, who cares?”

The first time I visited a water park, I never made it past the counter. There was a sign posted and it said “no tattoos allowed.”

“I walked in there and got the really weird eyeball,” Seems that have to have better luck being discreet about having their tattoos — like strategically placing their arm to cover it.

I’m disappointed by these water parks rules “It’s a bit of a letdown because it gets really hot here, and some of us will be in long sleeves,” It will still be fun, just not as enjoyable.

It’s just some ink for goodness sakes!

getting ink
Model: Unknown, Photo: Online Content (fair use)
Previous articleCultural Difference or Japanese Wisdom?
Next articleNew Craze… Snaggletooth
Jeffrey Johnston is a Japan based event photographer and publisher/writer and has been fortunate enough to travel and see the world. Been exposed to the limitless possibilities of photography over 12 years ago, he was able to see things differently. He currently shoots in the areas of people, fashion, event & news photography in Japan. He maintains a Facebook page with samples of his work. He can also be found at about contract work or with questions or comments on his photography.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here