Why Does Japan Forbid Tattoos?

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Japan is known for its culture of social conformity and high-pressure professionalism. A country that places such importance on appearances as Japan does has its fair share of social conventions related to appearance.
Japan has a long history of tattooing among the countryג€™s working-class population, but in the early 20th century these traditions began to fall out of favor with the upper class. The countryג€™s strict standards of appearance led to a ban on public tattoos in 1907. The top 4 reasons why this ban continues to exist today have been highlighted below:

Why Are Tattoos Taboo in Japan?

1. Tattoos are seen as an outward sign of self-expression and identity. In Japan, people are often judged by their appearance and status in society. When someone receives a tattoo, it is seen as a form of self-expression that can’t be hidden by wearing clothes or makeup.
2. Tattoos are also perceived as being primarily a masculine trait, which goes against Japanese social norms of gender roles. It is said that women who get tattoos will be seen as acting “unfeminine” and thus not fit to be wives or mothers in the future.
3. There is also the idea that tattoos are tied to the working class, with some seeing the act of getting a tattoo as something unprofessional for those in higher positions in society.
4. Finally, tattoos have been linked to criminal societies such as biker gangs and yakuza (Japanese mafia) which has further reinforced their taboo status among Japan’s upper class.

How Strict Is Japan With Tattoos?

Japan prohibits tattoos and other body modifications in public places, including schools, hospitals, and offices. The law is also enforced by the government through strict penalties for those who violate these rules.
The countryג€™s strong sense of social conformity has created a culture where people are encouraged to conform to the same standards of appearance across all levels of society. Tattoos are one way that Japanese society monitors this conformity. By prohibiting tattoos in public, the country is ensuring that their citizens look and act similarly on the outside as well as on the inside.

Can Travelers With Tattoos Go to Japan?

No. Tattoos are not allowed in Japan and so, if your tattoo is visible, you will not be allowed to enter the country.
Japanese law prohibits tattoos that are visible or those that cover a significant part of the body. So even if your tattoo isnג€™t easily seen by others, such as on the back of your hand, it is still against the law.
Japan has strict laws when it comes to entering their county while sporting tattoos. If youג€™re traveling to Japan, you need to make sure that any tattoos on your body are not visible.

When Was the Tattoo Ban Lifted in Japan?

The ban on tattoos was first lifted in the 1960s after a study on the health of tattooed people revealed that they were healthier than those without tattoos.

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Michael Blau

Michael Blau

I have been tattooing for over 15 years and have my studio in Brooklyn. While I'll tattoo just about anything on anyone, my specialty is religious tattoos.
I am originally from Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn known for its large Jewish population. This has given me a lot of experience and understanding when it comes to tattoos and religion.

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