A famous hot spa resort is offering an online map showing "onsen" spots available for tattooed tourists traveling to the region for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Tattoos are typically frowned-upon in Japan due to their association with gangsters, meaning people who wish to bathe in onsens, public pools or public baths usually find it difficult due to strict rules banning body art.
But the city office of Beppu in the World Cup host prefecture of Oita, has prepared the map on the webpage titled "100 tattoo-allowed hot springs" based on the understanding that tattoos are part of traditional culture in countries like New Zealand, whose national rugby team, the All Blacks, will play in Oita during the tournament.
"We don't want to disappoint people who come all the way (from overseas)" as the operators of many public baths refuse guests with tattoos, a city official said, explaining why the city created Google Maps-based guide.
On the map, icons marking hot springs come in three colors -- blue for 50 facilities, orange for 40 others and dark blue for the remaining 10.
Blue means the facility allows visitors with tattoos in large baths, while orange-marked facilities ask guests only to use private baths. At facilities indicated with a dark blue icon, people who have tattoos can only soak their hands and feet in onsen tubs.
Beppu has more than 2,000 hot springs, according to the city's website. But roughly 70 percent of inns and hotels in the city bar guests with tattoos from using their baths out of concern tattoos could displease other guests or even scare them.
"There are a lot of foreign tourists who look forward to visiting onsen hot springs at inns and hotels," said Tatsuya Kawamura who works for B-biz Link, an affiliate organization of the city which created the digital map.
Kawamura, 34, said he will encourage the operators of inns and hotels which currently ban tattoos in Beppu to take measures such as designating a "tattoo OK" time so more visitors can enjoy onsen.