May 08, 2004
Tattoo trouble

For the very first time since having my skin colored at the Meeting of the Marked convention in 1993, my tattoo has caused me trouble.

On Thursday, I decided to get off my lazy butt and join the Tokyo Dome Fitness Club. I took the tour and was filling in the application when an employee came over and waved some sheets of paper at the woman who was helping me. A conversation ensued—the rules, look at her arm, we can’t!

And I was turned away. “I’m very sorry, but our rules say no tattoos. And it’s the rule, so I’m sorry. There’s really no excuse but it’s the rule. It’s Japan, you know. Very sorry.”

So I seek a more tolerant gym. Maybe I will be working out and swimming with the four-fingered crowd. That’s OK by me, I just have to find them.

Posted by kuri at May 08, 2004 09:03 AM


I think that the coolness factor over the last 10+ years far outstrips being turned away from a single workout place. It was one of the first things I remember noticing about you and definitely said, “She’s cool.”

Posted by: Seth on May 8, 2004 10:08 AM

Please could we have a picture of your tattoo? I havent seen it, and am thinking about getting one. :-) Wanted to do it Koh-Samui, but i chickened out, and Japan is still so weird about tattoos. But i am hoping one day i might just get up enough courage. Hopefully this summer in July when i will be in Geneva.

Posted by: KC on May 8, 2004 11:54 AM

mmm…. taboo? it’s because the yakuza tradition? i’m a son of japanese -nisei-, living in Argentina, and i hope not to have any problems at all when visiting nihon. i’ve got one big tatoo on my back. :P

Posted by: chinaski on May 8, 2004 04:27 PM


Posted by: dad on May 8, 2004 08:05 PM

When I read the title of your post I thought, ‘Oh no, she’s got flaky skin or something.” Glad you were just tossed out of the ink free skin club. :p

Posted by: Jenny on May 9, 2004 12:49 AM

Heh, I loved the end. I’ll link to this entry from my blog, hope you don’t mind. =)

Posted by: kaeng on May 9, 2004 03:30 AM

Gee that club is a bit of a throw back - especially now when it’s become very fashionable for Japanese women in their 30’s to get ink done. There is even a magazine devoted to it.

What is the most odd is that the rule doesn’t really apply to gaijin women I’ve found. Remember the last gym we joined? They had that rule too but we were both fine.

Sounds like a club that you wouldn’t have enjoyed belonging to anyway hon.

Posted by: mj on May 9, 2004 10:56 AM

I hope you’ve not feeling residual bad vibes, I’m not sure if there’s anything worse for self-esteem than being excluded/ejected from a venue by a bouncer/fashion executive on the grounds of being yourself.

Kirsty and I tried to get into a pub in Perth last year while she was pregnant, we were going to an upstairs dance gig. Bouncer at the first door told her she couldn’t go in because she was wearing sandals.

She was so upset we almost went home, but after a while we tried the second entrance and got in with no trouble. But we’ve had bouncer fashion fascism fear ever since.

Anyway - stay proud of your tattoo :)

Posted by: womble on May 9, 2004 11:41 AM

Even being turned away from the gym hasn’t dampened my love of my skin art. My tattoo is part of me to the point that I hardly even notice it. Sometimes people will ask about it and I’ll be momentarily startled. It’s like someone asking about my fingers or nose.

I suppose if I had a big tattoo especially one in a traditional Japanese style like the yakuza have then I could see a certain reluctance and stiffness in the rules. But this is a Celtic pattern that circles my wrist, hardly threatening.

Oh, well. I’ll explore the options. Somewhere there’s going to be a gym nearby that will have me.

Posted by: Kristen on May 9, 2004 06:04 PM

i’ve had friends with the most innocuous tiny butterflys and flowers turned away from onsen in tokyo.

but then, that’s what ya get for going to an onsen in tokyo :)

Posted by: seth on May 11, 2004 02:07 AM

I felt a little strange going to one of the water-parks outside of Tokyo because I have a tattoo of a turtle on my ankle. I didn’t have any trouble though… I hope you find a gym that doesn’t have that silly rule.

Posted by: Barron on May 14, 2004 05:32 AM

hi, im thinking of tattooing yakuza style would this cause me problems abroad

Posted by: jesse on July 3, 2004 01:40 AM
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