Japan Tattoo Laws and Rules in 2022 (Legal or Illegal?) (2023)

Japan is by far one of the most spectacular countries to visit in Asia. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, its rich culture and history, and its friendly people.

There is so much to see and do in Japan, from the bustling city of Tokyo to sleepy mountain towns. And no matter where you go, you'll find delicious food and drink.

The country is also home to some of the most talented tattoo artists who create stunning pieces of body art in a unique style.

Unfortunately for tattoo enthusiasts.Japan has a history of discrimination against tattooed people, as well as some of the strictest regulations for the tattoo industry in the world. The ongoing battle over whether or not tattoos should be legal in Japan has literally gone on for centuries.

If you are a person covered in tattoos or plan to get tattooedthe land of the rising sunIt is important to know a little about the country's tattoo laws and regulations before embarking on the journey. So stay with us for a few minutes.

In today's article, we'll go into detail about Japanese tattoo laws so you don't get any nasty surprises.

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Japanese Tattoo Laws: What You Need To Know

Like most countries, Japan has some regulations for both patrons and artists. Compared to other places in the world, these are easily among the strictest, if not the strictest.

For,Are tattoos legal in Japan?

Yes, but not for everyone.

Tattoo laws for clients.

Until recently, Japan was the country with the highest age limit in the world for tattooing: 20 years. This meant that many Japanese and tourists had to wait until their early 20s to get tattoos in Japan, forcing them to do so illegally or travel abroad.

From April 2022However, the adult age in Japan has been reduced to 18 years. This makes the process of getting a tattoo in Japan much easier for locals and tourists alike.

What is worth noting is that Japan prohibits minors (under 18 years of age) from getting tattoos, even if they can provide written parental or guardian consent. This is in stark contrast to the vast majority of statesin the U.S, as well as most countries in the world.

Interestingly, not all clients are universally welcome at tattoo parlors across Japan. For example, it is not uncommon for some tattoo artists to refuse to tattoo a high school student.

Tattoo Laws for Artists

And this is where the “fun” part begins.

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That's because Japan's tattoo laws for artists have fluctuated like the weather in recent years, with no clear direction or stability in sight.

In the last part of the article, we will discuss in detail the reasons for hacking and changing Japanese tattoo laws for artists, which date back to the 17th century.

As of now though, here it iswhat you need to know as an artist.

The first thing to know about tattooing in Japan is that it is illegal without a proper tattoo license. Also, the tattooing must be done in a licensed shop and not in a private studio or home, as this would be considered a violation of the law.

The session must be performed with a disposable needle and all materials (including ink) must be sterile.

Regarding the rights of the artist, he is allowed to have his own preferred profile of the client, tattoo style and body parts that he wants to tattoo. Therefore, it is not impossible for a session to be rejected for these reasons. Of course, Japanese tattoo artists in Japan can also hit back at a person who is rude or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Japanese Tattoo Law: A Look At Troubled History

Japan has a longhistory of prejudiceagainst people with tattoos as well as those who practice the art.

Periodo Edo

This dates back to the country's Edo period (1603 - 1868) when tattooing became associated with tattooing.criminal classes. The criminals had tattoos on their bodies that indicated the crime they were committing against others. The trend spread across the country, prompting the Japanese government to use tattoos as a means of punishing and identifying criminals.

In addition to criminals, tattoos have also been popular among criminals.sex workersin the Edo period. They often had the color work to show romantic devotion to their regular clients and patrons. This was a specific type of tattoo known asirezumiko(入墨子). They usually started with the customer's name and ended withInochi(命), which means life."I pledge my life to (name of client)"said the tattoo in full.

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Meiji period

The decision came about due to the negative connotation and the attempt to westernize Japan.1872Completely ban people from tattooing and getting tattooed in the country. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the government decided they were uncivilized and outdated (look at us now, huh).

Interestingly, despite the ban, there are reports that prominent figures from around the world, such as Prince George and Prince Albert of England, have gotten their ink done in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The lifting of the ban, or not?

The Meiji period was finally bannedabolished after World War IIAmerican occupation. People could get tattooed and re-tattooed without fear of breaking the law.

Despite this, the negative association with tattoos in Japan persisted. Until the 2000s, when tattoos became more common in society, getting tattooed often led to discrimination from potential employers and judgment from others, since most people tattooed were members of the community.Yakuza, a Japanese organized crime syndicate that has been terrorizing the country for centuries.

The tattoo has been used by yakuza organized crime in Japan as a method of entry. The user broke away from normal society by receiving a large-scale ink job. There was no going back.

Nowadays, more and more people are getting tattoos, both Japanese and foreigners. Designs range from traditional Japanese motifs to Western designs, and the stigma surrounding tattoos was slowly but surely dissipating.

At least that's how it seemed until 2001.

That year, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare managed to enact the most outrageous regulations in yet another attempt to destroy Japanese tattoo culture.

The new regulation regulates thisTattooing was a medical procedure.rather than an expressive art form because it is about "putting pigment on a needle tip and putting ink on skin". In some cases, violations of this law have resulted in prison terms of three years and fines of up to one million yen. The move sparked mass protests across the country, as artists and patrons alike felt their human rights were being violated.

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For almost 15 years, tattoo artists have been accused of doing their work on others. The case finally made it to court in 2015 thanks to the efforts of the tattoo artist.Taiki Masuda, known as TAIKI.

Japan Tattoo Laws and Rules in 2022 (Legal or Illegal?) (1)

After 5 years of debate, the Supreme Court of Japandecided in favor of tattoo artistsin September 2020, stating that there is no evidence that tattoos are linked to yakuza or other criminal activity and that getting tattooed is, in fact, a form of body art and not a medical procedure. The decision was a huge victory for tattoo artists and the people who love them, as they were able to practice their art without fear of fines or jail time.

Japanese Tattoo Laws: Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you are familiar with tattoo laws in Japan, below is some additional information in the form of frequently asked questions on the subject.

  • Tourists with tattoos in Japan, safe or not?

So can you go to Japan with tattoos? Absolutely.

In Japan, there is no law that prohibits foreigners from getting tattoos, nor are there any legal consequences for those who already have tattoos. Some facilities, such as However, facilities such as onsen (hot springs), gyms, and public swimming pools do not allow people with tattoos to use their facilities.

  • Are there tattoo shops in Japan?

Yes, there are thousands of tattoo parlors across the country. After the verdict in 2020 in favor of the artists, more stores are opening regularly.

  • Are Japanese Tattoos Cultural Appropriation?

No, they are not. Japanese tattoos have a long and complex history that is deeply embedded in the culture and are an integral part of the country's identity. If you're interested in getting a Japanese tattoo, it's important to do your research and find an artist who knows the culture and rules of Japanese tattoo form.

  • Where are tattoos allowed in Japan?

You are free to flaunt your tattoo designs in most places, although exceptions do apply, such as the aforementioned gyms or public swimming pools. Places like this explain the decision by saying they don't want patrons without tattoos to feel offended or alarmed at the sight of the ink and the possible encounter with a yakuza member.

  • Where can you get a traditional Japanese tattoo?

If you are wondering where in Japan you can get tattoos that follow traditional Japanese tattoo design rules, you can check out some of the nameson this list.

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  • What is the traditional Japanese tattoo style?

The traditional Japanese tattoo style, also known asIrezumi, is characterized by large, bold designs that often cover the entire body. These tattoos are usually brightly colored and often depict mythological creatures such as dragons, phoenixes, and tigers.

  • How much do tattoos cost in Japan?

The price of tattoos in Japan can vary depending on the artist, design, and size of the tattoo. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $300 for a small tattoo and upwards of $2,000 for a large, traditional Japanese-style tattoo.


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