Progress! …kind of?

People with tattoos not being allowed to bathe inside of Japanese onsen (hot springs) is a well known and controversial issue.

On the one hand people want to feel comfortable while bathing naked and not like they’re surrounded by yakuza members covered in gang tattoos, while on the other hand most people with tattoos these days are not yakuza members and just regular people expressing themselves through body art.

While some hot springs have made small allowances for tattooed customers to enter, they’re still in the minority. However, Twitter user Simran recently posted this tweet showing that progress is being made… albeit in some strange ways.

 ▼ A sign at Thermae Yu, an onsen complex in Shinjuku, Tokyo, a bathhouse we’ve visited recently.

The English bottom half of the sign reads:

As the Japan Tourism Agency is relaxing its polices, Thermae Yu is initiating an experimental policy of allowing entry to female guests with fashion tattoos.

Note: we ask that tattoos larger than 30cm x 30cm (11.8in x 11.8in) be covered by a bandage.

For men who came from abroad for tourism in Japan, if you present your passport and purchase a bandage to cover your tattoo, you can use the bath. You may be unable to enter the bath depending on the size of your tattoo, so we ask for your understanding. You can purchase bandages at the reception desk of this facility.

Bandage S size — 80mm x 100mm (3.1in x 3.9 in)
Bandage L size — 100mm x 145mm (3.9in x 5.7in)
310 yen (US$2.69) / piece

Note: we must refuse service to anyone with body art or tattoos besides the type described above.

So first, to break things down, it seem as if all women, Japanese and non-Japanese, are allowed in if they have a small “fashion tattoo,” though they might have to cover it up depending on size.

For men, non-Japanese men might be allowed in if they prove they’re foreign with a passport and can cover it up with a bandage. However, it seems like Japanese men with tattoos are out of luck and don’t get any sort of option to enter.

It’s all a bit… complicated. Aside from the unfortunate sexism, what exactly classifies as a “fashion tattoo?” Is it the size only, or does the content of the tattoo count as well?

▼ Like, what about this tattoo? Is the Little Mermaid a “fashion tattoo?” It’s not very clear.

Others were confused about the choice of words on the sign, such as this being an “experimental” policy. Is it going to end sometime soon, or change in some way?

Also, even though the Japanese and English halves of the sign are nearly identical, the English half makes it seem like this is a change that Thermae Yu is happy to make, whereas the Japanese half reads more like “this change is being forced upon us by the Japan Tourism Agency.”

Still, it is progress being made, however small and confusing. We’ll have to see where things go from here.

And in the meantime, there’s still at least one other hot spring in nearby Shizuoka that allows for tattooed customers and has really killer views.

Source, top image: Twitter/@sim_nagra
Insert image: GAHAG

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