I would like to describe a personal experience that may be of some interest and value to readers. Last week I joined a fitness club in Nagoya. After completing the application process and paying the fee, I used the facilities. The following day I returned to use the pool before an aerobics class.

Upon entering the pool, I was told to remove myself from the pool due to my tattoo. I am a Canadian man, and I have four small symbols tattooed between my shoulder blades. Understanding the culture as I do, I made no fuss and exited the pool to continue with my exercise.

Later that day I asked my wife to call the sports club and ask if I might be able to use the pool if I taped or covered the tattoo. The staff responded that they would get back to us. A short time later the manager returned our call and announced that due to my tattoo, I would be unable to continue at the sports club in any capacity and they asked for my resignation from the club.

I have no problem covering my tattoo or refraining even from using the pool. I do know how some people view tattoos in Japan and, though I disagree with them, accept and am sensitive to this cultural difference. Barring me from the training room and classes where I can easily cover my tattoo smacks of discrimination, and this I cannot abide by.

This, in a nutshell, is what spurred me to write and perhaps attain some recognition of this problem, for it affects many foreigners living in Japan.

rob robinson