The Top 5 Tattoo-Friendly Onsen in Japan
Although tattoos may be viewed as a favored art form and self-expression - in Japanese society, tattoos are still often stigmatized due to deep-rooted cultural origins for their association with organized crime gangs (known as Yakuza). Hence traditionally, people with body art are often rejected entry in public wellness places such as hot springs known as onsen, gyms, public swimming pools and traditional ryokans.
However, nowadays with the abundance of tourists coming to Japan, many establishments have relaxed their policies regarding tattoos. Now even you body art lovers are able to enjoy the relaxing wonders of a Japanese hot spring with our pick of the best tattoo-friendly onsen all across Japan!
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Hoshino Resorts KAI
Hoshino Resorts are reinventing destinations for blissful bathing and dining across Japan with their chain of luxury boutique hot spring resorts branded as KAI. Guests can experience unparalleled hospitality in 14 uniquely serene settings including popular places such as Nikko, Hakone, Matsumoto and Atami. The KAI establishments are guaranteed to make all guests feel welcome while soaking in the therapeutic thermal waters in their luxurious hot springs.
Address: Locations all over Japan
Situated in the hustle and bustle of metropolitan Tokyo, Hisamatsuyu offers a contemporary and stylish bathhouse with natural hot springs that is only ten minutes away from Ikebukuro Station. Unlike traditional-style onsens, Hisamatsuyu bears the concept of 'Light and Wind' with both their sleek, modern decor and a visible sky that shines on the ceiling via state-of-the-art projection mapping. It truly is a one-of-a-kind bathhouse experience you won't find elsewhere in Japan.
Address: 4-32-15 Sakuradai, Nerima-ku, Tokyo
Hoshi Onsen Chojukan
Hoshi Onsen Chojukan is a 140-year-old onsen in Gunma Prefecture that has been awarded by the government for its huge cultural significance. Deeply rooted in the Meiji period's historical values, it features an authentic Rokumeikan-style large bath that welcomes both female and male guests. While entering the venue, guests can submerge in this traditional Japanese facility among a collection of calligraphic works of poets from the Meiji period and household Shinto altars to recreate the atmosphere of ancient times.
Address: 650 Nagai, Minakami-machi, Tone-gun, Gunma Prefecture
An article about onsen isn't complete without mentioning this precious hidden gem. Kinosaki Onsen, a charming resort town in Hyogo, around the Kansai region is regarded by locals as an 'onsen town' since it was discovered in the 8th century. Rich in both nature and tradition, Kinosaki is a picturesque village that is best visited in the winter. Walk along the willow-lined streets with historic sukiya architecture in your yukata (traditional Japanese robe) and then unwind by sinking in the warm hot spring baths on a chilly winter night.
Address: Kinosaki Onsen is easily accessed by train, bus, car or even airplane. From Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe and Himeji in particular you can ride express trains (JR) to Kinosaki that require only one or no transfers.
For the Studio Ghibli fans out there, Dogo Onsen in the city of Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture is well worth a visit, said to be the bathhouse inspiration from the critically-acclaimed movie 'Spirited Away'. The onsen was also awarded three stars by the Michelin Green Guide for Japan due to its significant history as one of the oldest spa towns in the country. If you're preparing to visit the site, you can also take a virtual trip to experience Dogo Onsen and the revivifying power of their hot springs in panoramic 360° courtesy of their website!
Address: 5-6 Dōgo Yunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime
During their next visit to the Land of the Rising Sun, inked guests no longer have to face such difficulty when wishing to take a soak in traditional Japanese onsens, sentos or ryokans. Japan now offers a variety of options that accepts tattoos all around the country - from the old and authentic to the contemporary and stylish. Though it still lies in a gray area, inclusivity is slowly being embraced within the nation.
To discover more places for tattooed visitors, you can also visit tattoo-friendly.jp to find appropriate locations all across Japan.