The Tourism Agency has started research on about 3,700 bathing facilities regarding their stance toward tattooed foreign tourists, collecting questionnaires that inquire about such points as whether such visitors were barred from using the facilities, according to agency officials.
The research is being conducted in response to reported cases in which tattooed foreign visitors were denied admission to spas and other bathing facilities.
The questionnaire used in the research, the first of its kind, also includes such questions as how facility operators notify customers of their ban on tattooed bathers and whether they have experienced trouble with tattooed foreign customers before.
Based on the results obtained, the agency will devise measures to deal with the situation while consulting with accommodation providers. "We don't have any concrete measures. First, we will ascertain the actual conditions," said Shigeto Kubo, commissioner of the agency.
The Hotel Business Law stipulates that operators can deny use if a patron is deemed to contravene the law or rules against public order and good morals. Although there is no stipulation about tattooed customers, it appears that, presently, most facilities refuse them.
Overseas, however, a not insignificant number of people are tattooed for reasons of fashion expression or ethnic tradition. Therefore, some hot springs or ryokan inns have approved entry for tattooed patrons if they use a private bath or are from foreign countries.
In October, Hoshino Resort Co., an operator of luxury hotels and hot springs nationwide, will begin an initiative to distribute stickers to bath users free of charge and approve use of the bath if they agree to conceal the tattoo with the sticker.