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October 5, 2017

Yesterday I was reading the newspaper, and there was an article which grabs my attention. It's about Taiki Masuda, a tattoo artist who was found guilty of violating the Japanese law, which considered tattoo work is a form of medical work, so one must have a license for it where Masuda said it is a form of art and self-expression. I am not going too much deep on the court's judgment, and I agreed tattoos are the best way to express feelings or a chance for an artist to show his/her creativity on someone else's body. But everyone's first concern about who wants a tattoo is the cleanliness and hygiene practice in the tattoo shop. Unsanitized tattoos have led to hospitalization or some serious skin issues for a lifetime.

While back in Japan, Japanese people tend to associate tattoos with Yakuza (Japanese Gangsters). The people who are inked are not allowed in public pools, gyms, and resorts. It is widespread to see "No tattoos allowed" sign in Japan. According to a survey, 90% of  Japanese are afraid of tattoos and considered them bad. One of the most important reasons why the Japanese have this perception towards tattoos is because, in the 17th century, many prisoners are tattooed by authorities to mark them as criminals. It becomes the tradition of the Yakuza group member, and the government started to use tattoos to distinguish the criminals.

In the Edo period (between 1603 and 1868), sex workers used tattoos to show their regular customers' love. There is two tattoos culture first in the West where it is a form of fashion and art; another one is deeply rooted in Japan - The Japanese Mafia, Yakuza. The legal age in Japan is 20. Under the Anti Organized Crime Law, forcing a minor to be tattooed is against the law.

For travelers, this can be an irritant. Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is the host city for Olympics Games 2020, and a lot of people will come across the globe for this e; and every year, more than 15 million foreign tourists visited Japan. I know changing wider cultural attitudes will not be easy, but it is changing now slowly. Japanese people start to understand that tattoos are largely accepted in the Western world. A few years ago, tattoo shops could be hidden in Japan, but now Japanese youth getting tattooed, and one can see well-advertised tattoo studios in the city, but the rules were the same. So if you ever travel to Japan, then hide your tattooed skin if you want to enjoy it in public pools or gyms and you will definitely get some stares or predetermined judgment but ignore them with your smile and enjoy.

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