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How Will The Olympics Affect Japan’s Taboo Tattoo Culture?

Will the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2021 change the country’s severe tattoo taboo?

Featured Image via Youtube/South China Morning Post

With the upcoming Olympics happening in Japan, herds of tatted athletes will fill their streets and stadiums. How will this influence the long-standing taboo culture over tattoos in Japan? 

Will the inked athletes inspire a new perception of tattoos amongst the spectators, or will they be shunned? 

The Tokyo Games will occur in 2021, postponed due to the COVID pandemic, but preparations and anxieties for it are already well under way. 

However, many are speculating about how Japan’s outlook on tattoos will react to seeing the rising popularity of tattoo culture amongst athletes.

Youtube/South China Morning Post/Reuters

Japan holds a very strong stance against tattoos due to their historical and cultural association to criminal organizations and gangsters. 

Most public spaces which include an element of undressing such as pools or spas, ban people to show their tattoos in public.

However, there has recently been a new change in perspective as Rudgby athletes from the 2019 World Cup began to show off their own, challenging the Japanese taboo and its legal regulations. 

Many argue that to be a tattooist, you must have a medical qualification, whereas others argue since they are merely emblems of body art and decoration, it is not necessary. 

This legal safe-space allows for more Japanese tattoo-artists a fairer chance to expand their profession in their country. In fact, Japan’s tattoo culture has been growing steadily, noticed by the “tattoo sharing parties” that have been taking place. Somewhat like informal conventions where people can share their body art with one another. 

A tattoo-party goer commented that these safe spaces are important exactly because in the Japanese public they must hide their body art, but at least here they can share their true identities and interests more openly with like-minded people. 

The upcoming Olympic games are a hopeful chance that tattoos will no longer be seen in association to criminal organizations, but instead, associated to the beauty of athletic bodies enhanced by body art and decoration. 

Find out more about the truth of Japan’s underground tattoo culture through Guy Martin’s documentary on his inking journey

Featured image via Youtube/South China Morning Post

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