Top 10 Tattoo Friendly Onsen In Japan

Travel on 6 Jul, 2024

Top 10 Tattoo Friendly Onsen In Japan

We’ve all heard the saying, “Having a tattoo means you cannot enter an onsen in Japan.” But is this true? It’s time to uncover the truth about tattoos and their acceptance in Japanese onsens. In this article, we’ll highlight the top 10 tattoo-friendly onsens and offer insights into the evolving traditional Japanese culture’s attitudes toward tattoos in Japan. Whether you’re a tattooed traveller looking to soak in the serene waters of a traditional onsen or simply curious about the cultural dynamics, this guide is for you. Read on to discover where to enjoy a relaxing onsen experience without worrying about your tattoos.

Why is a tattoo not allowed in an Onsen in Japan?

Sign on a door with a red circle and a line through a tattooed figure, stating, "No Tattoo. Please understand that we cannot accept customers who have tattoos at this tattoo friendly onsen.

Tattoos have a long history in Japan. They were initially linked to punishment in the 7th century when the Emperor punished a rebel with a tattoo. By the 17th century, tattoos were used to mark the worst criminals, making them social outcasts. 

“By the 17th century, tattoos had become reserved for the very worst criminals.”

In the late 1700s, criminals began to cover their punitive tattoos with decorative designs, eventually using them as punishment. This period marks the origin of the association between tattoos and organized crime. 

By the 18th century, decorative tattoos had gained popularity as an art form but were eventually banned due to their association with crime. Despite their illegality, tattoos became even more popular among the counterculture, especially within the yakuza (Japanese mafia).

To the yakuza, tattoos physically manifested a member’s bravery, loyalty and resistance to the law.

1. Dogo Onsen (Ehime Prefecture)

A serene indoor hot spring bath with wooden walls and ceiling, soft lighting, and milky blue water, giving the space a tranquil and rustic ambiance. This tattoo-friendly onsen welcomes all guests to experience ultimate relaxation.

Dogo Onsen, Japan’s oldest and most famous hot spring, is conveniently located 180 minutes from Tokyo by air and bus. This tattoo-friendly historic onsen, renowned as the only Michelin 3-star facility in the Shikoku region, makes for an excellent weekend getaway and a must-visit destination.

Since Dogo Onsen Honkan does not have lodging facilities, it specializes in day trips to bathe. The main building features two baths, “Kami no Yu (Bath of the Gods)” and “Tama no Yu (Bath of Spirits),” as well as three rest areas. Visitors can choose from four different bathing courses. Each of the two indoor baths offers a unique atmosphere.

Address: 5-6 Dōgoyunomachi, Matsuyama, Ehime 790-0842, Japan

Admission fee:
Kami no Yu (Downstairs) 410 yen,
Kami no Yu (2nd floor) 840 yen (includes a rental yukata)
Tama no Yu (2nd Floor) 1,250yen (includes rental yukata and a towel)
Tama no Yu (3rd Floor) 1,550yen (includes rental yukata and a towel)

2. Kinosaki Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture)

An outdoor tattoo friendly onsen sheltered by a wooden roof and surrounded by lush greenery, rocks, and a traditional Japanese building.

This famous and popular hot spring destination has drawn visitors seeking the perfect place to relax and unwind with its cosy atmosphere and seven natural hot springs for over a millennium.

Kinosaki Onsen, a charming hot spring town, welcomes visitors to its seven public bathhouses without any concerns about tattoos. As tattoos have gained popularity in the West, inquiries about tattoo policies have increased. Fortunately, all seven of Kinosaki Onsen’s public hot springs are tattoo-friendly, allowing you to enjoy soothing bath waters regardless of the size or shape of your tattoos. Come as you are to Kinosaki Onsen, and let your worries melt away in the comforting waters.

Address: 357-1 Kinosakicho Yushima, Toyooka 669-6101 Hyogo Prefecture

Admission fee: Day pass (All seven hot springs)

Adults – 1,500 yen
Middle school age below – 750 yen
Children under three years old – Free

3. Shibaseki Onsen (Oita Prefecture)

People relaxing in an outdoor hot spring with steam rising. Some are sitting in small tubs, while others are in a large central pool surrounded by rocks. A wooden building is in the background, highlighting this tattoo-friendly onsen's welcoming atmosphere for all visitors.

Shibaseki Onsen is one of many hot springs in Beppu where people with tattoos are welcome. Beppu, known as Japan’s onsen capital, boasts numerous tattoo-friendly onsen. Shibaseki Onsen, in particular, is renowned for its medicinal properties and is reputed to heal cold muscles and even bruises. According to legend, Japanese emperors have been soaking in these healing waters since as far back as 1044.

Adress: Beppu, Oita 874-0016, Japan

Admission fee: Adults: ¥210, Children: ¥100

4. Otakinoyu Onsen (Gunma Prefecture)

A serene interior of a tattoo friendly onsen features Japanese-style wooden bathhouse elements, including hot spring baths, wooden beams, benches, and soft lighting from lanterns.

Experience an ancient Japanese bathing tradition at Otakinoyu Onsen. This onsen offers the traditional awase-yu style of bathing, where bathers can gradually immerse themselves in baths that increase in temperature, from a comfortable 38 degrees to a steaming 46 degrees.

The charming wooden bathhouse also features open-air and private baths for families and couples seeking a more intimate experience.

Otakinoyu provides a full resort experience with a lounge café, sauna, massage rooms, and relaxation rooms available for private rental.

Address: 596-13 Kusatsu, Agatsuma District, Gunma 377-1711, Japan
Admission fee: Adults 1,100 Yen, children 550 Yen (ages 3–12); towel sets are available for 250 Yen

5. Yamato-no-Yu Onsen (Chiba Prefecture)

A tranquil, tattoo-friendly onsen with natural stone and foliage, surrounded by a bamboo fence, reflects trees and sky in its serene waters.

Yamato no Yu is a modern and elegant public bathhouse near Narita Airport, just south of the Boso no Mura open-air museum park. It’s an ideal destination for travellers wishing to experience a Japanese bath around the airport.

The bath facilities at Yamato no Yu include outdoor and indoor pools, as well as gender-segregated saunas. Additionally, three small private baths are available by same-day reservation. Fed by geothermal waters initially at 19 degrees Celsius, these baths are heated to approximately 41 degrees Celsius. While technically classified as reisen (“cold springs”) due to temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius, they contain natural minerals known for their health benefits.

Address: 1630 Ōdake, Narita, Chiba 286-0841, Japan

Admission fee: 850 yen (weekdays), 1000 yen (weekends) Private baths (2800-4000 yen per hour)

6. Hottarakashi Onsen (Yamanashi Prefecture)

A person is soaking in a tattoo-friendly onsen during sunrise, with misty mountains and a distant peak in the background.

Located with Mt. Fuji in sight and overlooking the Kofu basin, this onsen offers breathtaking panoramic views. Relax in an open-air bath while taking in the stunning vistas of the Kofu plains, surrounded by mountains and lush greenery.

Hottarakashi Onsen features two baths: Kocchi-no-Yu, known for its wooden and rocky open-air bath with views of Mt. Fuji, and Acchi-no-Yu, larger and offering vistas of the Kofu basin during sunrise and sunset.

Address: 18-1669 Yatsubo, Yamanashi-shi, Yamanashi-shi, Yamanashi

Admission: Adults (Junior high school and more) ¥800, Children ( Elementary or less) ¥400

7. Hakone Yumoto Onsen Tenseien Ryokan

An outdoor, tattoo-friendly onsen with clear water, surrounded by lush greenery and covered by a wooden roof structure. A wooden platform sits in the water, while stone pathways wind around the pool.

Hakone has remained one of Japan’s premier hot spring resorts for centuries. Today, over a dozen springs supply hot spring water to numerous bathhouses and ryokan throughout the Hakone region.

Yumoto, located at the entrance to Hakone near Odawara, is renowned for its long history, high-quality water, and abundance of baths and inns. Additionally, numerous other hot spring facilities dot the hills, valleys, and shores of Lake Ashi in Hakone.

Address: 657 Yumoto, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0311, Japan

Staying guests – Free
Daytime visitors – 500 to 2000 yen

8. Tenzan Tohji-kyo Onsen, Hakone, Kanagawa

A serene Japanese onsen with wooden structures and clear hot spring water. The tattoo-friendly onsen is surrounded by green foliage and features both indoor and outdoor bathing sections, offering a welcoming retreat for all visitors.

Tenzan Tohji-Kyo is an onsen nestled within the Tenzan ryokan, located in Hakone’s renowned natural spring town.

Featuring multiple open-air baths, each with a unique temperature thanks to their cascading waterfall design, Tenzan Tohji-Kyo offers a serene atmosphere perfect for a day of relaxation. The natural spring water starts at its hottest in the top pool and gradually cools as it flows downstream.

While Tenzan Tohji-Kyo may have inconsistent policies regarding tattoos—accepting smaller ones but potentially rejecting larger ones—private onsens are available where guests with tattoos of any size can enjoy the facilities without any concerns.

Address: 208 Yumotochaya, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0312, Japan

Admission: 300 JPY includes access to the sauna, indoor and outdoor baths.

9. Saki no Yu Onsen, Wakayama

A natural hot spring with clear turquoise water is surrounded by rocky formations and overlooks the ocean in the distance, offering a welcoming atmosphere for everyone, including those seeking a tattoo-friendly onsen experience.

Saki no Yu Hot Spring Resort is located in Wakayama on the Nanki Shirahama coast. It is an outdoor natural hot-spring bath with a long history from ancient times, even described in Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan). Among the “7 Great Yuzaki Hot Springs” named in the chronicle, Saki no Yu is the only one still existing. The spring is a sodium chloride spring, which is effective for rheumatism, movement disorders, menopausal disorders, and female reproductive disorders.

Address: 1668, Shirahama, Nishimuro District, Wakayama 649-2211, Japan

Admission: 500 yen for ages three and above

10. Takegawara Onsen, Beppu, Oita

Two people relax in a steaming indoor hot spring bath, enjoying the warm embrace of the tattoo friendly onsen. The setting features tiled walls and wooden furniture, with signs visible on the wall in the background.

Takegawara Onsen has stood for over a century and remains one of Beppu’s most cherished hot springs. Its beautifully crafted building evokes the traditional essence of Japan, reminiscent of ancient temples and inns. This charm has made it a symbol of Beppu. Recognized by the Japanese government as a Tangible Cultural Property of Japan for its high artistic and historical value, it captivates visitors with a facade that brings to mind Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away.”

Address: 16-23 Motomachi, Beppu, Oita 874-0944, Japan

Admission: Onsen – 300 Yen, Sand Bath – 1,500 YEN

Tips for going to the onsen if you have tattoos

Here are some essential tips when visiting an onsen with a tattoo.

Tip #1: Cover-up methods

A person applies a skin-colored sticker over a tattoo on their forearm. Packaging labeled "Tattoo Cover Aqua" is visible next to the arm.

If you have tattoos and plan to visit a non-tattoo-friendly onsen, here are some tips for covering them up before you soak. You can use tapes available at drugstores or inquire at the onsen’s front desk if they sell them. To be safe, check the facility’s policy on their website or give them a call beforehand, as some places may have specific rules regarding the size or type of covered tattoos they allow.

Tip #2: Visit a Sento

A onsen features mural art depicting a coastal landscape and cartoon bear characters. Several washing stations with round mirrors and white stools are on the right side, accompanied by pools in the foreground.

You may opt for a sento bath instead – also known as public baths in Japan. It is typically more affordable than a private onsen. Sento baths have separate gender baths, both male and female. You can learn more about the differences between an onsen and sento and the basic etiquette of taking an onsen bath.
Tattoos are generally accepted in public baths, but double-checking beforehand is always wise.

Tip #3: Book a private bath

A traditional Japanese bathhouse room with a red bathtub, wooden floors, stone accents, and wooden paneled walls awaits you.

Unlike your typical onsen, which you must share with other guests, private onsen or family baths (called “kashikiri buro” or “kazoku buro” in Japanese) allow guests to occupy the baths all to themselves.

Also, another alternative is to dip in an onsen without having to cover up your tattoo.

Tip #4: Contact And Ask In Japanese

You should try contacting the onsen directly (especially if it’s a large sento or ryokan). Their phone number or email will be available on their website. Ask the owners if tattoos are okay. Sometimes, they allow you to visit but ask that you avoid peak hours. They might also ask if you can cover your tattoo.

Here are some useful Japanese phrases:

1. Do you allow guests with tattoos to use your onsen facilities?
Tato~ū tato~ū no aru kata no onsen shisetsu no riyō wa kanōdesu ka?

2. Do you accept cover-up tattoos?
Kabāapputato~ū o ukeiremasu ka

3. I’m a foreigner with a tattoo. Can I use your onsen?
Watashi wa tato~ū o irete iru gaikoku hitodesu. Anata no onsen o tsukatte mo īdesu ka?

4. Are there any restrictions on the size or visibility of tattoos in your onsen?
Onsen de no tato~ū no ōki-sa ya mie-kata ni seigen wa arimasu ka?

Enjoying an Onsen with Tattoos

We hope this article helps you effortlessly find a tattoo-friendly Onsen in Japan. However, if you cannot travel but still crave an authentic Japanese Onsen experience without the concern of tattoos, indulge in the luxurious Hinoki Onsen bath at Ikeda Spa in Singapore. Immerse yourself in a bath crafted from cypress wood and infused with premium bath salts, offering an unparalleled relaxation experience. Escape the daily hustle in the serene ambience of our spa. Click the banner below to discover how to enjoy a complimentary onsen bath with us!