We’ve talked before about Japanese tattoos, their history, and cultural significance.
In short, tattoos are frowned upon in Japan because they are associated with the criminal underworld, particularly the Yakuza.
As a result, fans heading over for the Rugby World Cup have been told to cover up, especially when using gyms or pools, or risk offending the locals.
Rugby’s official stance
World Rugby, the sport’s governing body, has posted advice to the estimated 400,000 travelling fans.
A 2015 survey found that 56% of hotels and inns did not allow tattooed guests to use communal bathing facilities.
Japan’s tourism agency has called on spas in the country to relax their rules.
The organisation suggested that hot springs – onsens – and bath houses could offer visitors stickers to cover up tattoos, or set aside specific times of day when tattooed bathers can use the facilities.
An Issue for the Players too
While not required during matches, visiting players and officials have been warned by World Rugby to cover up in public.
New Zealand and Samoa players in Japan are already covering up in hot springs, hotel lobbies and other public areas.
“We’ve got an onsen, or a spa, at every hotel,” All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith told the New Zealand Herald.
He said in a public spa the players had to wear clothes to cover tattoos.
“And that’s okay, we’re in Japan, we have to embrace their way, their culture,” he said.