Q&A: Swimming with a tattoo?

Q: Do you have any advice on tattoo-friendly swimming?

- @scoutie

A: Many readers may already know that a lot of onsen, sento and pools in Japan prohibit guests with (visible) tattoos from using their facilities. I don't have any personal experience with this, but I do know it can be an issue (unless you're heading to the beach), especially for those with larger tattoos that aren't easily covered up by swimsuit (or towel, if at an onsen).

I should note that not all pools are anti-tattoo, so it may be worth checking the rules on their website beforehand (if they have a website) if you think it might be an issue. Some may have rules saying it's OK to have tattoos as long as you keep them covered.

In any case, how do you go to the pool if you have a difficult-to-hide tattoo?

One idea would be to wear a long sleeve top or long shorts, such as the surfing-style shirts or board shorts. This is actually pretty common at water parks in Japan (that I've been to anyway), and I think many people do it (women, in particular) to guard against the sun versus covering a tattoo. So this, though probably not ideal at all for most people, might be a possible option.

I've also seen people (usually men) use athletic-type tape to cover up parts of their legs or arms, so that could be another possible option.

Concealer or band-aids may work fine for small tattoos, though obviously either isn't as practical for larger ones. I have heard you can get waterproof concealer that acts as "paint" to cover a tattoo, though.

So, readers with tattoos, what are your best tips for enjoying the pool (or onsen) with a "no-tattoo" rule? Please let us know in the comments, and I'll compile the answers to add here.

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1 comment:

ash said...

I was an inconsiderate foreigner. I have a small tattoo on my lower back and went to onsen all the time. No one ever said anything. I sometimes would try to cover it with a towel...but if a towel doesn't fit around your waist, that's awkward :)

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