Rugby players asked to cover up tattoos
NHK -- Sep 22
In just one year, some of the toughest athletes are set to hit the pitch in Japan for the Rugby World Cup. As the players gear up to play, they're getting some advice about adhering to local customs, including covering up their tattoos.

Rugby's international governing body is asking players to wear sports vests when visiting gyms and pools. It says tattoos are often associated with Japanese organized crime known as the "yakuza."

That's the perception of many in Japan. In a survey three years ago more than half of 600 hotels and traditional inns said they don't allow tattoos in their communal baths.

People in Tokyo had mixed reactions to the advice.

A woman said, "I don't think it's necessary to cover them up. They are part of their identity."

A man said, "If you allow only foreigners with tattoos to go into public baths, gangsters might say 'why can't we go inside?', and that could make it difficult for the operators."

So far rugby players have been more than happy to comply, including the New Zealand All Blacks. Many of the members are Maori and tattoos symbolize their heritage and status.

On the streets of Tokyo, international visitors understood the request. But some say tattoos don't have the same meaning in their country as they do in Japan.

Stephen Ohara from Ireland said, "I've been asked to cover them at a water park, which is fine. I bought clothes to cover them. But I knew that coming over, I knew coming over anyways."

Johan Leduc from France said, "I can understand that it's uncomfortable for the Japanese people to see tattoos, because of the history, of the meaning of the tattoo for the yakuza. But the other people, foreigners are not yakuzas."

The warning to cover up tattoos is being highlighted by the international media, including BBC.

News source: NHK
Dec 17
More than 40 people were injured on Sunday when an explosion caused a fire at a commercial building housing a pub in Sapporo City on Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido. Police suspect a gas leak may be the cause. (NHK)
Dec 17
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has revealed that the government plans to open about 100 support centers for foreign workers across Japan. (NHK)
Dec 15
Japan's central government is pushing ahead with a controversial plan to relocate an American military base within the southern prefecture of Okinawa. They've started full-scale land reclamation work despite strong local opposition. (NHK)
Dec 15
A court on Friday sentenced a 26-year-old man to 18 years in prison for a highway road rage incident last year in which a couple died and their two teenage daughters were injured. (Japan Times)
Dec 15
The government will temporarily suspend an extra medical fee that pregnant women were required to pay out of pocket to see doctors, health minister Takumi Nemoto said Friday. (Japan Times)
Dec 15
Japanese education companies are expanding their language offerings overseas, seeing business opportunities in meeting growing demand for Japanese-speaking foreign manpower as the nation opens its doors to workers from overseas. (Nikkei)
Dec 14
A Japanese government panel says a run of growth that began in December 2012 has now become the second-longest period of expansion in the post-war era. But that verdict comes as Japan struggles with sluggish wage growth and a chronic labor shortage. (NHK)
Dec 14
Traditional female entertainers in Kyoto have started offering early New Year greetings. (NHK)
Dec 14
The Japanese government plans to take measures to make regional labor markets accessible to foreign blue-collar workers to avoid them concentrating in large cities such as Tokyo when the country starts accepting them under the new visa system next year, the government's top spokesman said Thursday. (Japan Today)
Dec 14
Sixteen-year-old shogi prodigy Sota Fujii has reached his 100th victory in official matches of the Japanese board game, becoming the youngest professional player to reach the milestone at the fastest pace in history. (Japan Today)