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10 tattoo-friendly onsen in Kansai

8 Comments
By Whitney Hubbell

As a land of many natural hot springs, Japan has a rich history of onsen (hot spring baths). Visiting an onsen is one of the essential ways of experiencing traditional Japanese culture and is the perfect way to relax and soothe your aches and pains after a long day of travel or work. Unfortunately, due to their association with the yakuza (the Japanese mafia), many onsen deny entry to those with tattoos. But there are still plenty of onsen towns and public baths that welcome tattooed customers to their facilities. Here are ten of the best tattoo-friendly onsen in Kansai.

1. Kinosaki Onsen, Hyogo

iStock-920549870-1.jpg
Not one, but seven tattoo-friendly onsen Image: iStock/ Yusheng Hsu

At the top of our list of tattoo-friendly onsen in Kansai is the town of Kinosaki Onsen, on the northern coast of Hyogo Prefecture. This town has been a popular spot for a relaxing getaway, and its traditional architecture and serene atmosphere remain well-preserved. It features seven tattoo-friendly onsen. Visitors can buy a combination ticket for the Onsen Meguri, which allows entrance into all seven. You can even purchase a map with a stamp section and collect a stamp at each onsen you visit.

78 Kinosakicho Yushima, Toyooka, Hyogo - Map

Nearest station: Kinosakionsen station

Admission: ¥1,500 combo ticket, ¥900 for Sato no Yu, ¥800 for each of the other six onsen

visitkinosaki.com

2. Arima Onsen, Hyogo

hiroki-okumura-Pixta-Arima-Onsen.jpg
Arima Onsen is one of Japan’s three ancient onsen towns. Image: Pixta/ Hiroki Okumura

An even older onsen in Hyogo Prefecture is Arima Onsen, located in the mountains behind the city of Kobe. Founded 1,300 years ago, Arima Onsen is one of Japan’s three ancient onsen towns and has been frequented by nobles, samurai and emperors. The town has two public baths, Kin no Yu (golden hot spring) and Gin no Yu (silver hot spring), which allow tattoos. Both baths specialize in one of the town’s two types of hot spring waters, called kinsen (gold water) and ginsen (silver water). Several ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) also allow visitors to use their baths on day trips.

833 Arimacho, Kita Ward, Kobe, Hyogo - Map

Nearest station: Arimaonsen station 

Admission: ¥800 for Kin no Yu (¥650 on weekdays), ¥600 for Gin no Yu (¥550 on weekdays), ¥1,200 for a combination ticket

arimaspa-kingin.jp/en-index.htm

3. Nada Onsen Suidosuji, Kobe

This tattoo-friendly onsen in Kobe is centrally located in the city’s Nada Ward and is a popular spot with locals. Due to its proximity to Mount Rokko, it is also the perfect place to take a dip and relax your muscles after a day of hiking. Though it can get crowded on weekends and evenings, several baths and other facilities exist. Nada Onsen Suidosuji has outdoor and indoor baths, a jet bath, and an electric bath, and the facilities also include a sauna and massage chairs.

1-26 Suidosuji, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo - Map

Nearest station: Maya station

Admission: ¥450

www.nadaonsen.jp/suidou_index.html

4. Saki no Yu, Wakayama

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Saki no Yu affords beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. Image: PIXTA/ Photo_N

Click here to read more.

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8 Comments
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Don't go to Arima for an Onsen on the weekend or National Holiday. Too many people.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think it's okay to admit foreigners' tattoos when taking a bath.

Many Japanese people who complain about this are probably anti-social people.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Tats will not affect the onsen water, so give this a rest. Better is to strike up a conversation about the meaning of the tattoos.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Why would anyone wish to run the health risk of getting a tattoo?

Personally, I have no wish to see the damage that sticking a body with a needle causes.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Agent_NeoToday  08:41 pm JST

I think it's okay to admit foreigners' tattoos when taking a bath.

Many Japanese people who complain about this are probably anti-social people.

Don't you find that idea discriminatory? Either anyone with tattoos can enter, or they can't. Everyone needs to be treated equally.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I live in Canada my wife is Japanese, and I've been to Japan several times since 1997. I have a tattoo of a small maple leaf on my shoulder. My first trip to Japan I wasn't allowed in to my wife's gym that she was a member of. So the next time I just put a bandaid over it no problem, which is kinda silly. Personally I think Japan should just put the tattoo thing to rest. I would imagine with the surge in tourism in Japan a huge number of the tourists probably have tattoos.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tats will not affect the onsen water, so give this a rest. Better is to strike up a conversation about the meaning of the tattoos.

If you knew about the etiquette at Japanese onsens then the last thing to do is to start conversations, let alone about tattoos.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

OssanAmerica

Some people are quick to complain about this kind of discrimination, so even foreigners with tattoos are not allowed to enter hot springs. Isn't that discrimination against foreigners?

Japanese people with tattoos can't help but be seen as antisocial. He gets the tattoo knowing that he won't be able to go to the hot springs.

I think it would be more discriminatory to equate those people with people coming from overseas.

I think that foreigners who come to Japan should be given special treatment.

If the ban is lifted for Japanese people, yakuza will openly enter public bathhouses where only ordinary people are allowed. There's no way I can forgive that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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