Japan could relax tattoo ban for rugby fans

Tattooed rugby fans could be allowed to enjoy Japanese hot springs. (Credit: Getty Images)
Tattooed rugby fans could be allowed to enjoy Japanese hot springs. (Credit: Getty Images)

Japan could accommodate Rugby World Cup tourists by relaxing its ban on tattooed bathers at its traditional hot springs, according to the Kyodo news agency.

Associated with the yakuza crime syndicate, tattoos are frowned upon at thousands of Japanese Onsen across the country.

With an estimated 400,000 visitors set to descend on Japan for Asia’s first Rugby World Cup, which kicks off in September, individual establishments will be allowed to make their own decisions on whether or not to allow tattoos.

Official travel guidance sent out by the British Embassy in Tokyo in September last year, before being updated in June, said: “Tattoos have a historical association with organised crime in Japan.

“You may be refused entry to hot springs, gyms or swimming pools if you have one.”

Oita in south-west Japan will host five matches during the tournament, including Wales’ group stage tie against Fiji, and is trying to open itself up to tourists by publishing a map identifying the 95 tattoo-friendly onsen in the region.

Atami is an onsen resort which dates back to the 8th century and is located near to the Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, where the hosts will play Ireland.

“With the Olympics coming up as well, we feel the need to discuss the issue of tattoos,” an official for the resort told Kyodo.

According to Kyodo, tourism officials near Sapporo - where England will face Tonga - will also let individual establishments make their own decisions.

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