Hot Spring Operators Mull Over Welcoming Tattooed Visitors during Rugby Games

Hundreds of thousands of rugby fanatics from different parts of the globe are looking forward to this year’s Rugby World Cup to be held across various stadiums in Japan on September 20 to November 2, 2019. In view of this upcoming multi-national sports event, the Land of the Rising Sun expects to attract approximately four hundred thousand foreign tourists in addition to local rugby fans.

 

With the expected influx of international visitors during the course of the 2019 Rugby World Cup games, a number of onsens or Japanese hot spring resorts in major prefectures and cities in Japan have expressed their concerns on how to deal with customers who have body tattoos.

 

Photo credit to: https://www.japantimes.co.jp

Based on a survey conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency, around sixty percent of hot spring facilities do not allow tattoed individuals from availing of their onsen services. Many of these resorts consider having a tattoo as against social norms because they are associated with yakuza organized crime groups and other gangs.

 

In consideration of Japanese social standards, the World Rugby Association has already informed the athletes, participants and other supporters of the rugby games to find ways to conceal their tattoos as much as possible. This is especially true when they visit gyms, pools and hot spring resorts since tattoos could possibly be associated with gangs.

 

The Association for Jozankei Onsen resorts said that it “leaves the decisions (on whether to accept tattooed visitors) to individual establishments.” However, Hideaki Yamada, a senior official of said association expressed that “There are customers who dislike the idea (of bathing together with tattooed people) so it will be difficult to force the facilities to accept them.”

 

Meanwhile, Seiji Hora, a senior official of Beppu City Ryokan Hotel Association expressed that hot spring operators should be more open-minded in accepting tattooed clients. According to him, “There are many Japanese people enjoying tattoos as well, and we would like to avoid treating only foreigners differently. We hope we can enhance our tolerance and understanding on the occasion of the Rugby World Cup.

 

Reference: Hot-spring resorts debate allowing tattooed tourists ahead of Rugby World Cup

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