Public baths starting to give tattooed guests the thumbs up 公眾澡堂開始對刺青客放行
Tattooed guests used to be denied a dip in a public bath due to the longtime practice among operators of bathhouses and traditional "ryokan" inns of banning those with body art.
But the attitude of operators is softening as a growing number of foreign residents and tourists show up at their establishments bearing tattoos as a fashion statement or religious custom.
"Due consideration should be given （to tattooed foreign travelers） since Japan is aiming to become a tourism-oriented country," said Japan Tourism Agency （JTA） Commissioner Akihiko Tamura.
With the nation eager to appear open-minded to new trends and foreign customs in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the government-run JTA plans to promote awareness in the tourism industry that tattoos are linked to fashion and religion among foreign visitors and not specifically associated with gangs and rebellion.
Going to a hot spring ranked third after Japanese food and shopping on a list of things overseas tourists are looking forward to during their stay in Japan, according to a JTA survey of foreign travelers who came to Japan between January and March 2015.