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mips

Tattoos and slippers etiquette in Japan

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We are going to cruise Japan and China in exactly a years time, I like planning ahead 😄

Both myself and DH have visible tattoos, not a whole sleeve but forearm, ones.  Its going to be hot in August.  Should we be looking for tattoo hiding makeup or sleeves? Or will we be OK showing them?  Also since we both have larger than normal feet should we bring slippers or will clean wool socks work for visiting places?

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Showing your tattoos will be no problem at all (my DD traveled with a friend once that had many). You can certainly bring slipper/socks and have them available "if" you need to use them.

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Bring socks instead of slippers for visits of castles and other areas with wooden floors. Slippers are provided if required. If you are afraid you wouldn't fit in them, bring your own, but none of our ship excursions needed slippers. We were on land tours with traditional hotels where we had slippers.

Tattoos are only a problem when you want to go to an onsen, a traditional hot spring bath.

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You need to realize that Japanese consider tattoos as unclean.

People with tattoos are not allowed to enter Onsen or public swimming pools in Japan.

Showing them is OK, but realize also that Japanese do not have a very high opinion of tattoos on foreigners.

They won't say anything -  they just think it.

Clean socks (no holes) will be fine for visiting anywhere.

Wearing shoes that come off and on easily will be a plus.

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4 hours ago, BruceMuzz said:

You need to realize that Japanese consider tattoos as unclean.

People with tattoos are not allowed to enter Onsen or public swimming pools in Japan.

Showing them is OK, but realize also that Japanese do not have a very high opinion of tattoos on foreigners.

They won't say anything -  they just think it.

Clean socks (no holes) will be fine for visiting anywhere.

Wearing shoes that come off and on easily will be a plus.

I think you're being a bit extreme on what they need to "realize" ... especially towards a tourist just cruising and doing port stops....These countries will welcome them and their tourist $$$'s. 

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55 minutes ago, Ashland said:

... especially towards a tourist just cruising and doing port stops....These countries will welcome them and their tourist $$$'s. 

 

Really!? 

Believe it or not... some people still value culture and tradition over $$$. 
We have been to Japan twice and fell in love with the country and its people. We booked another cruise for 2021.
One of the reasons is the overall feeling of respect and friendliness. Not everything is about money - as in many other destinations.


We have met tourists with your kind of attitude and frankly, it gives us a feeling between ill and sad. Just because you pay for your trip, doesn´t give you the right do do as you please. A behaviour, I am sure, you would loudly condemn in your own country.


 

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12 hours ago, mips said:

Should we be looking for tattoo hiding makeup or sleeves? Or will we be OK showing them?  Also since we both have larger than normal feet should we bring slippers or will clean wool socks work for visiting places?

 

In Japan, tattoos are traditionally associated with the thugs of the Yakuza, i. e. organized crime. Nationwide campaigns against organized crime have resulted in public baths formally denying entry to people with tattoos. And since rules are strictly observed in Japan, this also applies to a single gecko on the ankle of a tourist. People with tattoos, no matter how small, are denied entry.

 

However, if you don´t show off or flash your tattoos on purpose elsewhere, you will be fine. Be respectful towards people and they will recognize you as such. The feeling of respect and friendliness in Japan is almost overwhelming... if it goes both ways it will get you far.

In some temples you will be asked to remove your shoes. Socks are fine. Slippers are considered shoes and may not be worn. 
 

BTW: you can read about our different Japan cruises here:

 

Celebrity Millennium

https://www.travelandcruise.net/travellove_en/Our-Trips/Celebrity-Millennium-Japan/celebrity-millennium-japan.html

 

HAL Westerdam

 

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Tourists really do not understand the Japanese mentality on foreigners.

When we had the Tokyo Olympics in the 1960's, it was an incredible opportunity for the Japanese to make an enormous amount of money.

But above all else, the Japanese are deathly afraid of embarrassing you or themselves.

The chances of language difficulties with foreigners in shops and restaurants was too high to tolerate.

Rather than take advantage of this great profit opportunity, more than 50% of Tokyo shops and restaurants closed for the entire Olympics to avoid any difficulties with foreigners.

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8 hours ago, Miaminice said:

 

Really!? 

Believe it or not... some people still value culture and tradition over $$$. 
We have been to Japan twice and fell in love with the country and its people. We booked another cruise for 2021.
One of the reasons is the overall feeling of respect and friendliness. Not everything is about money - as in many other destinations.


We have met tourists with your kind of attitude and frankly, it gives us a feeling between ill and sad. Just because you pay for your trip, doesn´t give you the right do do as you please. A behaviour, I am sure, you would loudly condemn in your own country.


 

Please don't assume you know me or my "attitude"...We have traveled extensively in Japan and China (no we don't have tattoos) but I have certainly seen tourists that do and they have been treated no differently....Absolutely no reason for you to make the OP feel uncomfortable during their cruise port stops...that's what is sad here.

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The OP asked a simple question if they would need to cover up their tattoos in what would be short port stops for them...I gave them a simple answer. You opted to turn this into a cultural debate....absolutely unnecessary.

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10 hours ago, Miaminice said:

 

In Japan, tattoos are traditionally associated with the thugs of the Yakuza, i. e. organized crime. Nationwide campaigns against organized crime have resulted in public baths formally denying entry to people with tattoos. And since rules are strictly observed in Japan, this also applies to a single gecko on the ankle of a tourist. People with tattoos, no matter how small, are denied entry.

 

However, if you don´t show off or flash your tattoos on purpose elsewhere, you will be fine. Be respectful towards people and they will recognize you as such. The feeling of respect and friendliness in Japan is almost overwhelming... if it goes both ways it will get you far.

In some temples you will be asked to remove your shoes. Socks are fine. Slippers are considered shoes and may not be worn. 
 

BTW: you can read about our different Japan cruises here:

 

Celebrity Millennium

https://www.travelandcruise.net/travellove_en/Our-Trips/Celebrity-Millennium-Japan/celebrity-millennium-japan.html

 

HAL Westerdam

I have read yours already, My cry of 'I want to stay in the Godzilla hotel" had my poor DH rolling his eyes saying 'Of cause you do" lol

 

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Thank you all, We will not be doing public baths or swimming pools. We will be staying in Tokyo 4-6 days before the cruise, and maybe somewhere relaxing for a week afterwards, but as we will want beach and water this discussion has made us decide to move onto another country.   We wish to be as polite as possible as we always are and if we had planned this trip last year would not have gotten the arm tattoos this year, but too late now.  We can pack long sleeve cotton overshirts and see how we feel when we get there.

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2 hours ago, Ashland said:

Absolutely no reason for you to make the OP feel uncomfortable during their cruise port stops...that's what is sad here.

 

If you read my response carefully, plus maybe the additional direct response to the OP, you‘d have noticed that it wasn’t directed towards the OP or their tattoos. On the contrary, I think it is very thoughtful of them to even ask the question.

 

My response was exclusively directed towards YOUR „they welcome their $$$“ statement/attitude. If that is the feeling you took home from your „extensive“ Japan travels, I am sorry for you. We have seen and come to love a different Japan. 

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5 hours ago, Miaminice said:

 

If you read my response carefully, plus maybe the additional direct response to the OP, you‘d have noticed that it wasn’t directed towards the OP or their tattoos. On the contrary, I think it is very thoughtful of them to even ask the question.

 

My response was exclusively directed towards YOUR „they welcome their $$$“ statement/attitude. If that is the feeling you took home from your „extensive“ Japan travels, I am sorry for you. We have seen and come to love a different Japan. 

Miaminice,

You are spot on. I couldn't agree more.

After living in Tokyo for most of the past 3 decades, the mis-understanding of the Japanese culture by many westerners is just shocking. That's why wherever I go in Tokyo, I wear my famous polo shirt with 私はアメリカ人ではありません"Watashi wa America-jin dewa arimasen" embroidered on it. The Japanese are too polite to laugh when they read it, but I do catch a few snickers and hidden smiles.

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....gently redirecting back to the specific question of tattoos and slippers which I believe has been satisfactorily answered - thank you! - and acknowledgment of the fact that sometimes it's learning about our differences are a part of what makes travel so worthwhile. It's important to be respectful wherever we go (or do our best) but also, we can only ever try to be the best versions of who we are, ourselves. And what's also wonderful is how very different that can also be, even within one's own culture.

 

It's not always easy to understand or accept that, but it is always necessary. At least it is here. 😉 

 

Thanks again everyone, for helping the OP and each other, always. Japan has a uniquely fascinating culture. Have a great trip OP!

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