Kobe’s efforts to make its beaches more family friendly by banning people with tattoos from being on them appears to have backfired spectacularly – far from increasing visitor numbers with a flood of reassured families as was planned, young people have all but disappeared from the beach and visitor numbers are at their lowest ever.
The city government originally became concerned about “worsening public order driving away families” and, reasoning that young people cause trouble and people with tattoos are bad people, opted to implement a zero tolerance ban on tattoos – no matter how small.
Police patrolled the beach in order to harass anyone baring a tattoo into either leaving or covering up, issuing approximately 760 warnings.
Astonishingly, visitors objected to this treatment and responded by not coming to the beach and finding other things to do instead.
The city had expected its “family friendly” policies to reverse declining beach attendance and increase the season’s attendance from 620,000 last year to 700,000 this year.
Instead, attendance was the lowest ever recorded – some 530,000 – despite a longer than average swimming season.
A raft of other measures to make the beach less appealing to young people were also adopted, including banning the use of loudspeakers at events and shortening the operating hours of beach huts. This helped ensure the number of events held at the beach plummeted from 140 last year to a mere 30 this year.
Local beach businesses say getting the ordinances repealed is “a matter of life or death,” though the city refuses to acknowledge any problems: “By making a wholesome beach families will return, and in the future the turnout will recover.”
They are not alone in their hatred of people with tattoos, it seems:
“Of course, next year the families are sure to come!”
“External appearances are a mirror on your soul! All you tattooed bastards should disappear off the face of the earth!”
“Everyone judges based on appearance anyway.”
“Families can’t enjoy the beach if there are people with tattoos there. Excluding them is a good idea.”
“Tattoos are popular nowadays. People with them like them, they are considered stylish. Gloomy serious bastards without them should stay away from the beach anyway.”
“Even without the ordinance, it was a cool summer, it’s to be expected!”
“So 100,000 people had tattoos? I doubt it.”
“A lot of beach-goers have them. Even if they don’t, if their friends do they aren’t going to go to the beach without them, are they? Pointless moralistic policies like this just cause economic damage. The Kobe city government is a right bunch of idiots.”
“Aren’t they ashamed to have tattoos? If they ever have kids they won’t be able to take them to the baths.”
“Tattooed people can’t have MRI! They will get cancer more easily! What a bunch of idiots!”
“Tattoos are proof you are a criminal. This is Japanese culture. This is Japan, you criminals!”
“Tattoos are fashion items amongst the young these days. If you start trying to exclude them like this, of course they will stop coming.”
“The world view you people exhibit is so narrow you sound like primitive natives.”
“I can’t believe any decent person would ever put ink in their body like that.”
“Did they warn foreigners to leave the beach as well? Surely they didn’t let them off but warn all the Japanese away?”
“I don’t really know, but I get the impression only total idiots go to the beach anyway.”
“Everyone knows people with tattoos are fools and criminals. They should be banned from all public activities.”
“A lot of Koreans have tattoos, so this ordinance is just like killing cockroaches, it’s the right thing to do.”
“If the ones who didn’t come all had tattoos they are better off without them!”
“Be sure to ban pitfall traps as well…”