Tattoo Beach Bans “Violate Human Rights”


Recent efforts to ban anyone with a tattoo from visiting public beaches have seen criticism that the policy is violating the human rights of people whose only crime is against fashion.

That Japan’s many public baths and theme parks frequently impose blanket bans on anyone bearing any sort of tattoo is well known, but this summer one of Kobe’s top public beaches has gone one step further by banning anyone with a tattoo from visiting the beach.

Signs at the beach warn against “intimidating other visitors [by displaying tattoos]” and police patrol the beach looking for infractions and demanding they either cover up immediately or leave.

For obvious reasons the ban is only on tattoos exposed to public view, although it is hard to see many tattooed beach goers being satisfied with being reduced to wearing long sleeves and trousers in the midst of the summer inferno.

Along with the tattoo ban, a similar ban on “noise” and smoking on the beach is in effect.

It seems most of the warnings are not against frolicking yakuza gangsters but young people bearing modern fashion tattoos; a 33-year-old woman with small tattoos on her chest and legs complains of the police harassment, saying “I’m not littering or otherwise ill-mannered. They shouldn’t be judging on looks alone.”

A policeman stuck doing this says that “It’s like whack-a-mole, but if you keep on at them some will take notice. You just have to keep at it.”


The regulations come after visitor numbers to the typically overcrowded beach fell to 620,000 in 2010, down from 1,000,000 a decade before, with authorities saying the beach has lost its family friendliness with lots of musical events and intimidatingly tattooed young people.

However, local trade groups say the regulations will merely ruin the beach’s liberal atmosphere and drive away young people, with the chairman of one such group saying that “it seems contradictory for Kobe to promoting itself as an international tourist city open to other cultures on the one hand, and then to be banning freedom of expression in the form of tattoos on the other.”

Others claim such measures violate the human rights of those choosing to adorn themselves with tattoos, and are considering legal action.


Traditional Japanese tattoos (“irezumi”) are almost exclusively associated with yakuza – to the extent that establishments banning them indiscriminately could feel confident they had excluded the criminal elements, or at least those of them who were cunning enough to permanently brand themselves with an externally identifiable mark.

However, in recent years western style tattoos of all kinds have become increasingly popular, although blanket bans on tattoos are almost always still indiscriminately enforced against all, irrespective of the type or extent of the tattoo – or for that matter whether the bearer even comes from a nation where tattoos are considered immediate proof of criminality.

A case in point is the recent visit to Japan of the mildly inked Lady Gaga – had she attempted to visit most of Japan’s public baths, amusement parks and, now public beaches, she would have been in considerable danger of being thrown out.

Whatever the complexities arising from the collision of modern and traditional body art in Japan, 2ch is of almost one mind – people with tattoos are unwholesome deviants who deserve to be discriminated against, coincidentally an attitude the rest of Japanese society seems to harbour towards 2ch:

“People are what they look like!”

“Irezumi are proof of criminality.”

“They are just a bunch of gangsters. Ban them all. It’s scary to be near them.”

“They have them because they want people to see them like that!”

“When in Rome…”

“Seem to be lots of people who think tattoos = yakuza. Today even a salaryman could have one.”

“A normal one wouldn’t do something like that!”

“It’s not discriminating against people on the basis of their appearance. It on the basis of what’s inside.”

“That 33-year-old hag shouldn’t even be on the beach.”

“If you get caught with even a little 2-3cm one in most companies they’ll make up some other reason to force you to quit.”

“Discriminating against people on the basis of their appearance is only bad when they’re born with it.”

“If you don’t want to be considered a freak, don’t look like one!”

“Tattoos promote prejudice, they should be banned by law.”

“Aren’t people with tattoos and piercings embarrassed to be seen in some kind of primitive native fashion?”

“This isn’t a ban on tattoos, it’s a ban on idiots who have tattoos.”

“They’re banned in most onsen as well, aren’t they?”

“Why do they pick an appearance they know people will discriminate against? Is it deliberate?”

“I think this is going too far, but Japan is a country which discriminates against tattoos so they should be prepared for this.”

“Freedom to infringe the rights of others isn’t freedom at all!”

“No Japanese people of any quality get tattoos. Only idiots, people influenced by western fashions and yakuza have them.”

“What happens when foreigners have them? That lot get them all the time?”

“Hide them.”

“What if they can’t? It seems pretty poor for a city promoting itself as an international tourist destination to completely fail to take into account foreign visitors like this.”

“What are you babbling about? They aren’t normal even amongst foreigners. The ones who have them are all scum anyway.”

“No westerner of any culture would have one.”

“Try saying you have one at an interview. You’ll never get a job.”

“You can’t get life insurance with one. If they find one they can refuse to pay out.”

“I hope they drive them out of society and make them all regret ever having them!”

“I can understand with full yakuza tattoos, but with normal ones this is all blown completely out of proportion.”

“Scumbags don’t have human rights. Who do they think they are, showing these tattoos to children!”

“Of course they are banned. Average people can’t tell the difference between traditional tattoos and fashion tattoos.”

“Japan really is insular and just thinks like some senile old fool, doesn’t it?

It used to be a symbol of yakuza membership, now they are fashion symbols.

If someone decides to have one, what’s the point of all this whining about it from other people? You sound like some old hag going on about her ‘right to a good view’.”

“Culture won’t change that quickly, people have despised them for a long time. It won’t change overnight.”

“In Japan, a tattoo is an anti-social display of power. They are just going to intimidate families going to the seaside. They might be accepted in other countries, but in Japan you are just violating the right of other people not to be intimidated, and that’s unforgivable.”

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    Comment by Anonymous
    16:19 24/07/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Had to wear an extra large skin-color patch on my shoulder at onsen last time I was there... one small-ish tatoo. Pain in the ass. Or wait until about 2am... which was good cuz they don't care for us smelly westerners anyway. Nice people... racist bigots... but nice people.

    Avatar of owi2000
    Comment by owi2000
    17:59 24/07/2011 # ! Quality (+0.9)

    “Scumbags don’t have human rights. Who do they think they are, showing these tattoos to children!”

    This is the same ideology that Ishihara spouts off. Way to go 2ch, now you're supporting the same type of bullshit he does. Substitute tattoos with oppai and BAM! Instant Ishithara.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:16 25/07/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Why do you think that Ishihara was reelected again?
    Japan's majority thinks like a senile old fool, just like Ishihara.

    Avatar of Bakamoichigei
    Comment by Bakamoichigei
    07:52 25/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    It's not Japan's majority, it's the majority of Japan that VOTES.

    That's the problem. Youth of voting age, and even a good chunk of people in their 30s are disaffected and can't be bothered to vote. So you're stuck with hardly anyone but the senile old fucks and the loud and opinionated pricks doing the voting. And then everyone else wonders why opinionated senile old pricks keep getting elected.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:44 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Compared to 2ch, yes it would be better.

    Avatar of 大和魂 【門前の小僧習わぬ経を読む】

    @ 0:16
    "Japan's majority thinks like a senile old fool"

    Because SanCom's way of thinking would be a totally better alternative, right? /sarcasm

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:03 24/07/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    My favourites are the ones that imply anyone on 2ch will ever be anywhere near a beach.
    Classic comedy.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:50 25/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    erm... this is trolls, like on 4chan, dumb americans.

    ^example of troll

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:39 24/07/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    It's the internet, what do you expect? Plenty of right-wing scum to speak out with their absurd views without fear of being reprimanded.

    Avatar of kazaza2
    Comment by kazaza2
    23:57 24/07/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    @ Anon 20:39

    Yeah, but you know what, I wouldn't have it any other way. That what makes the internet so great, everybody's got a platform, even the assholes.

    That's why governments and the dickhead politicians look for ways to control it. You just have to sift through the crap.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:56 24/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Some even shoot at people

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:21 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    @owi2000: Truer words have never been said.

    Really is amazing how tatts are discriminated upon in this day and age.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:14 25/03/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    You know tattoos can be considered an art too, right?
    What are you? The fashion police?

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:05 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    So the millions of women who wear earrings should take them off too? those are piercings too in case you haven't noticed.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Tattoos are really only for vermin without any sense of artistic taste. Like piercings.

    Japan would be better off without their sort. We have enough visual pollution in the Western world without exporting it to the east.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:51 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    pathetic japanese are even worse than the chinese, they are hypocrites and a shameful race

    Avatar of Crommus
    Comment by Crommus
    20:26 24/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Exactly. I'd like to know about that ultimate negative impression which is graved into those poor children's minds.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Uhh, dude I think you should check your sarcasm filter. Just saying.

    Well way to make me not want to go to Japan. I have an ankh from the Vampire: The Masquerade games, but if I'm going to get crap about it, might as well not go *shrug*. Their loss.

    +internets for majority of Japan being senile fools XD.

    Avatar of 大和魂 【門前の小僧習わぬ経を読む】
    02:14 25/07/2011 # ! Drivel (-1.0)

    “Scumbags don’t have human rights. Who do they think they are, showing these tattoos to children!”

    "This is the same ideology that Ishihara spouts off."

    No it's not...

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:15 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    @02:14 Actually yes it is. If you can't see the stunning resemblance then you need to get your brain checked. Or stop with the stupid ass double standards.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:52 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Yes it is. Forcing everybody to be "child friendly" as per some old fool's idea of "chielf friendliness", so that no one deviates from "the norm", is EXACTLY what Ishit-hare is all about.

    Avatar of 大和魂 【門前の小僧習わぬ経を読む】

    @ 06:52
    This article didn't say shit about Ishihara nor does the issue center around children.

    I'm sorry that Ishihara passed a law in which pornographic material depicting school children will be kept from the eyes of the public in a country you don't even live in.

    Each time you come to find out Japan doesn't really abide by the misconceptions set within your Japanese weeaboo world doesn't mean Ishihara is the culprit.

    Avatar of Sailor Sexy
    Comment by Sailor Sexy
    02:16 25/07/2011 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    Yeah, when I was there I had to have patches put over the two tattoos I have at the public bath. But, when I went in the morning, the tape girl wasn't there, so they just let me go in anyways. Honestly, there's no way I could be mistaken for a Japanese native, so I don't see why they'd care since I'm obviously not yakuza.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:56 24/07/2011 # ! Drivel (-0.8)

    Don't worry,they were just worried about your manhood's size.They have chopstick you guys got baseball bat.

    Avatar of Diemeow23
    Comment by Diemeow23
    18:00 24/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)


    XD Aaaand YOU kind sir! Have pasta for brains, so what's your point? :/

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:01 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    why thankyou for complimenting my junk, Anon! I did wear the patch on my shoulder, but was also sure to use the extra wide "shame" towel too (aka the "Italian Special").

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:34 24/07/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    >intimidating other visitors by wearing tattoos

    what the fuck japan?
    this is just ridiculous

    17:40 24/07/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    I wonder how intimidated would they be by a pack of rednecks with guns or worse yet hard core ganstas?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:25 25/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    They would be too scared to do anything. It's the Japanese way.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:31 22/09/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    They would be scared to get out of their basement's. It's the 2ch way*

    there fix'd

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:43 24/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Tattoos are synonymous with yakuza in Japan, basically. So, I guess to these people, tattoos are also inherently intimidating.

    Avatar of Shaolan-kun
    Comment by Shaolan-kun
    22:52 24/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Yes, but if in Japan you see a foreigner with a small 2-3 cm fashion tattoo and think "Oh my god he's a yakuza", then you're more than retarded.

    03:57 26/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    The Yakuza don't get little tattoos they usually get some huge thing that goes across their backs.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:00 24/07/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    "in Japan you are just violating the right of other people not to be intimidated, and that’s unforgivable"

    People can be intimidated by all things existing or imagined. Personally I find women in bikini, who're less 100kg intimidating, ban them from beaches! Actually, ban everyone except me and my friends.

    Or, no.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:00 25/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Dude don't bother.

    That makes absolutely no sense to me. Right to not be intimidated? That is so beyond my understanding of logic that...

    Yeah don't bother, that was just a amazingly stupid quote.

    Avatar of nanuchan
    Comment by nanuchan
    21:27 25/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Those who didn't learned to swim feel intimidated by water... are japanese going to ban the sea from beaches?

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:20 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I don't think people that are too fit should be able to go to the beach either.

    I feel they will make fun of fat people/kids, knock over their sand castles, and kick sand in their eyes.

    Damn you non-fat/pasty people!!

    Avatar of Heigen
    Comment by Heigen
    01:25 26/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I know yakuza are scum etc, but can't you really be with them in the same beach? I thought they behave pretty well publicly. Like mototrcycle gang members, they don't start shit without reason. Japan, grow up. Btw what about piercings? Those are far more ugly.

    Avatar of draguer
    Comment by draguer
    17:34 24/07/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    retarded, retarded everywhere...

    what's next? banning fat people?

    Avatar of Diemeow23
    Comment by Diemeow23
    18:03 24/07/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Goodbye to a large portions of the populace X3

    in more ways than one

    Avatar of tyciol
    Comment by tyciol
    09:40 31/07/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Fat is more unhealthy to beachgoers than tattoos.

    Avatar of Shippoyasha
    Comment by Shippoyasha
    17:51 24/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Watch this draguer:

    They already are.

    Avatar of kazaza2
    Comment by kazaza2
    23:15 24/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)


    If they think those people are fat the should come to the US and see the brontosaurs grazing here!

    The only thing fat in that report was Kyung Lah's big mouth. Can't stand that pretentious cow.

    Avatar of sweetdart
    Comment by sweetdart
    04:59 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    @ Anon 04:26

    It clearly exists as a metaphor so.....

    STFU!! and stop trolling!

    Avatar of kazaza2
    Comment by kazaza2
    04:41 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Fred and Barney ate Bronto burgers so they must have existed. ;)

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:06 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    They mentioned this on Adult Swim years ago when it started...

    Comment by Anonymous

    And the education system is clearly win if someone still thinks there was a dinosaur called a brontosaurus.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:45 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Dude, that was harsh.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:47 24/07/2011 # ! Drivel (-0.7)

    Those should've been banned first.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:36 24/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.9)

    The police in Japan are all pussies and won't do anything about Yakuza who are in public places. So really they are only going after people who don't deserve it. Also this is just another way to get less foreigners to visit.

    17:42 24/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.7)

    Conservative idiots doing their best to tank the tourism economy despite the fact it can help a stagnant economy.

    Avatar of dantesmaster
    Comment by dantesmaster

    lets remember than tattoos have a criminal history in japan (hundred of years), criticizing a culture without knowing them is ignorance.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:23 25/07/2011 # ! Good (+0.8)

    I spent a good part of my life in Japan, but nice try dumbass.

    Living there is how I got to know that the Japanese rarely do anything to yakuza out of fear of retaliation, and 98% of the time it's innocent people with tattoos (and an assload of foreigners) who are targetted.

    Learning about Japan from the internet isn't working for you.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:46 26/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    @ 01:38

    Interesting statement that last one, it's interesting cause it works both ways. Let's look at some of those responses.

    - What are you babbling about? They aren’t normal even amongst foreigners. The ones who have them are all scum anyway.”

    - No westerner of any culture would have one.

    Hmm those fit pretty well with that sentence don't you think. How many miljons of westerns you think have atleast 1 tatoo of any size? My country alone it's already in the miljons. So let's just remember that stereotyping and plain discriminating out of fear and ignorance is retarded no matter where you come from.

    Comment by Anonymous

    I live in France, country with a lot of beaches.
    Here no bans on Tatoos and our children aren't traumatized at all.

    I didn't know until now about this blanket ban on all tatoo in public places in Japan. That's so stupid.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Don't you know? No one likes France.

    Comment by Anonymous

    - Ignoring where you live,
    - just because children in your place aren't traumatized by the tattoos,
    - does not mean children in Japan aren't.
    - so it's stupid to say their bans are stupid.

    Avatar of 大和魂 【門前の小僧習わぬ経を読む】

    Oh I see how it is son.

    You weeaboos obsess over Japanese culture, but when being shown examples that contradicts how Japanese really think from your highly misconceived, biased, sugarcoated version of it scold the Japanese as if there's no tomorrow.

    Ironically, you guys bitch about "moralistic western influence" being "pushed" on Japan all the time...

    Avatar of Sandalphon
    Comment by Sandalphon
    02:44 12/08/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)


    What do you expect?

    Much as we "obsess" over Japanese culture there are still things about it we dislike or don't agree with. Or is it us truthfully stating our opinion on the matter what bothers you mayhap...? Perhaps you think we shouldn't?.

    Well, maybe that's the case for those staying in Japan as guests and only to avoid hurting the Japanese's feelings over such a trifle subject, but that's not the case here.

    Avatar of Myballz
    Comment by Myballz
    07:32 25/07/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    You notice why Japanese Police carry only Rape whistles.

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