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03:55

Japan: Tattooed rugby fans divide hot spring resorts over Yakuza fears

Japan, Beppu
October 03, 2019 at 11:24 GMT +00:00 · Published

As rugby fans gathered in the famous spa resort of Beppu for a World Cup clash on Wednesday, several addressed the topic of tattoo culture in Japan in light of bans on entry into public hot springs for those wearing body ink.

A number of tattooed New Zealand rugby fans, who were in Beppu for the clash between their national team, the All Blacks, and Canada, say they had heard of difficulties in trying to access hot springs - or onsens - in the city. Those wearing skin ink are often associated with organised crime and the yakuza in Japan, meaning they are not always welcome into spas and public baths.

While fans agreed that visitors must respect the host country's rules and traditions, some highlighted the fact that most tattoos worn by Kiwis tend to be related to Maori and Pacific island culture, and therefore entry to the onsens should be more flexible in such cases.

"A lot of the tattoos are traditional and very much Pacific island and Maori tattoos, maybe that's the difference. Maybe the fashion ones might have to be covered up I get, that but maybe the traditional ones that are the Pacific islands and Maori, maybe that should be a little bit more acceptable," said New Zealander Rebecca West.

Beppu is famous for its hot springs, some 2,000 of which are dotted throughout the southern Japanese city.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup, which is taking place in Asia for the first time ever, is being held in Japan from September 20 to November 2.

03:55
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Description

As rugby fans gathered in the famous spa resort of Beppu for a World Cup clash on Wednesday, several addressed the topic of tattoo culture in Japan in light of bans on entry into public hot springs for those wearing body ink.

A number of tattooed New Zealand rugby fans, who were in Beppu for the clash between their national team, the All Blacks, and Canada, say they had heard of difficulties in trying to access hot springs - or onsens - in the city. Those wearing skin ink are often associated with organised crime and the yakuza in Japan, meaning they are not always welcome into spas and public baths.

While fans agreed that visitors must respect the host country's rules and traditions, some highlighted the fact that most tattoos worn by Kiwis tend to be related to Maori and Pacific island culture, and therefore entry to the onsens should be more flexible in such cases.

"A lot of the tattoos are traditional and very much Pacific island and Maori tattoos, maybe that's the difference. Maybe the fashion ones might have to be covered up I get, that but maybe the traditional ones that are the Pacific islands and Maori, maybe that should be a little bit more acceptable," said New Zealander Rebecca West.

Beppu is famous for its hot springs, some 2,000 of which are dotted throughout the southern Japanese city.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup, which is taking place in Asia for the first time ever, is being held in Japan from September 20 to November 2.

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