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Tuesday, 4th March 2014
In General Japan News,

Tattoo ban hits popular Japanese beach

Visitors to the Zushi City Beach will be required to cover up any excessive or "scary" bodyart after the local council passed a ban following complaints from the locals, it has been reported.

The new restrictions could prove to be particularly problematic for the servicemen from the US Yokosuka Naval Base, who often head to the coastline here during their time off thanks to its proximity to their station.

According to the Zushi City Council, a small visible tattoo will be perfectly acceptable, but anyone sporting designs that cover the arms or other large parts of the body will be asked to cover up, city official Masashi Koizumi told Stars and Stripes last week.

Other restrictions put into place include a ban on alcoholic drinks and barbecues on the beach, which could prove difficult to enforce as Zushi is regularly packed out during the weekend with young adults who travel from the nearby Tokyo region.

While tattoos are acceptable and commonplace in most Western societies, they remain something of a taboo in Japan thanks to their Yakuza associations.

Members of the Mafia-like organisation traditionally cover their entire bodies with colourful and intricate tattoo 'suits' which take months and sometimes years to complete.

Because of this, foreigners with bodyart are advised to cover up, and may well be asked to leave certain establishments if their tattoo is spotted - particularly if they are in a swimming pool or one of Japan's famous hot onsen springs.

However, as the Yokosuka Naval Base belongs to the United States, this is an area where two cultures often collide.

Previously, mayor of Osaka Toru Hashimoto announced controversial plans to ask all employees of the city to fill out paperwork detailing where exactly their tattoos are on their bodies and what they are of, sparking outrage and questions over privacy.