I realize this has been asked but I could only find information related to pools and onsens. I am going to Tokyo in a couple of days and then osaka the week after, and after doing some research on where im going I noticed that my relatively small (3inches probably) across my right forearm tattoo might pose a problem. I don't intend on swimming or going to an onsen, however im wondering whether we will have any trouble getting into our hotels in Tokyo and Osaka which we have already paid for( They are both 4 star hotels, if that matters so presumably lots of foreigners have been there), should I just wear long sleeve shirts my whole time in Japan? I would have liked to get a temporary gym membership for 7-10 days while I was in Japan nearby the hotel, but I am not really sure whether my tattoo will pose a problem.

TLDR: Should I ask the hotels beforehand if they will have a problem with my tattoo on my forearm, and places like the gym, restaurants, just walking around be a problem? If so I guess I can just wear long sleeved shirts the whole time :(

  • This is a relevant question for Japan because tattoos are strongly associated with Japanese organized crime syndicates. Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 14:08
  • 6
    Are you white? If so, no one will take you for yakuza. Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 14:09
  • 3
    What exactly is the tattoo? Mickey Mouse, no problem. A certain socialist symbol, problem everywhere.
    – DTRT
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 14:18
  • Its a compass. And no im south asian (brownish skin)
    – bill
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 18:39
  • 1
    Bill, please add some info why after doing some ... might pose a problem (maybe a link). Also edit your other comment answers into your question.
    – user40521
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 10:05

2 Answers 2


Tattoos are restricted on display in gyms in Japan period with no mention of race. From Google translate for Central Central Sports (Look at their website https://www.central.co.jp/- it seems to be their name)

"have a tattoo, can I use (join)? We are very sorry, but we do not accept the use of those with tattoos. Please be patient." I belonged to this gym once and I am sure I never saw a tattoo.

Some gyms such as Gold Gym merely restrict the size of display to 4 cm.

  • 2
    "Please be patient"?? Are they expecting that the tattoos will fade away with time? Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 12:01
  • 3
    Maybe they mean wait until Japanese attitudes catch up to the fact that non-gang affiliated people increasingly have tattoos? Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 12:22
  • How about my hotel? Will my hotel give me any issues booking in given my tattoo?
    – bill
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 13:22
  • I'd the please be patient is just an artifact of google translate- close reading of the original only roughly translates to we are very sorry and kindly don't show your tattoos. Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 0:09
  • 7
    "Please be patient" sounds like a classic Japanese way of saying No without actually saying "No", which is taboo. Another euphemism is "it's difficult". Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 17:17

I'd wrap an ace bandage around it for the first few times you go. Once you know that there's a good number of foreigners who are also tattooed, you can go bare skin.

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