Hotel group inks trial covering bathers' tattoos with stickers

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

The no-tattoos policy at many of Japan’s public bathhouses might become a thing of the past if one hotel group’s experiment with stickers to cover guests’ body art gains traction.

Hoshino Resort Co. announced Wednesday that from Oct. 1 it will start distributing 8 cm x 10 cm stickers at the group’s 13 Kai high-end inns, allowing tattooed guests to use their public baths if they cover their ink with the stickers.

Many onsen (hot spring) resorts and public baths around the country turn away tattooed visitors because of their association with yakuza — a sight they feel would scare other patrons.

The longtime policy has drawn flak from casual and ethnic tattoo-bearers, including visitors from abroad.

“We would like to make this an opportunity to think about existing rules at ryokan (traditional inns) and among onsen fans,” President Yoshiharu Hoshino said at a news conference in Tokyo on Wednesday.

A Hoshino Resort spokeswoman said the president decided to introduce such stickers after he heard from a Maori visitor about the experience of being rejected entry to a bath in Japan.

The company will decide whether to continue the practice and introduce it at other facilities after monitoring the reaction of guests for six months, the spokeswoman said.