Tattoo Friendly Onsen In Tokyo – The allure of soaking in a steaming hot tub of refreshing water whilst gazing out at the sunset in silence, taking in the wonderfully peaceful atmosphere and ambience is almost too irresistible. The onsen experience is an experience that most foreigners visiting Japan are hyped about, and of course it would be, because how can the promise of soaking in healing water to rid your ailments (sometimes) under the night sky not be on anyone’s bucket list?
Whilst the tourism boom in Japan has opened up many leisure establishment’s doors up to welcoming foreigners, there is still one elephant in the room that needs to be addressed for foreigners who want to experience an onsen, and that is its ban on tattoos.
Why Tattoos are banned in most onsen?
For those who haven’t heard, onsen establishments historically do not allow anyone with a tattoo to use their services. It’s a rule that’s been around for a very long time, and it is part and parcel to expect most places to still adhere by this strict rule even today. It’s not so much of a health hazard, but rather a perception issue. The Japanese have long associated people with tattoos to gangsters, Yakuza, illegal activity, anti-social crowds, etc, rather than a fashion statement or body decoration. Because of this, onsen owners don’t want to taint their business image or be associated with them, and thus have banned tattoos altogether.
It’s a bit disheartening to hear that because of some ink on your body, you’re forbidden to share in this great experience. However, lucky for you, in the recent years, there have been some onsen establishments which have relaxed their rules and allowed for people with tattoos to use their services. It’s still few and far between, but if you’re keen, read on as we list 10 tattoo friendly onsen in or around Tokyo you can use.
Please note: some may require you to travel 2-3 hours to get to, but we promise it’s worth it.
The 10 Best Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo (And Around):
- Natural Hot Spring Hisamatsuyu
- Yudonburi Sakae-yu
- Ishidan no Yu
- Yamato no Yu
- Takaban no Yu
- Soshigaya Onsen 21
- Kagoiwa Onsen Ryokan
- Hoshi Onsen Chojukan
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #1 – Natural Hot Spring Hisamatsuyu
This contemporary hot spring sento located right in the middle of Tokyo is perfect for those after a clean, modern onsen experience. From the moment your bare feet hit the heated floorboards, you’ll be in heaven. It’s actually been around since the mid 1950s, but has been renovated a few times since and now is as stylish as something you’d expect in Ginza. It boasts quality sodium water in its main bath that’s been brought up from 1,500m below ground. It’s outdoor bath is actually quite a sight for sore eyes, with lush green plants set alongside black stones.
Natural Hot Spring Hisamatsuyu Details
- Address: 4 Chome-32-15 Sakuradai, Nerima City, Tokyo 176-0002, Japan
- Access: It is a 10-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station.
- Hours: 11:00am – 11:00pm
- Price: 400 yen
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #2 – Yudonburi Sakae-yu
At this particular onsen, you will be able to experience up to seven different types of baths. This includes a rotenburo (an open-air outdoor style onsen), a neburo (onsen bath where you lie down), and even a denkiburo (an electric-style onsen where live metal electrodes pass low-level electrical currents through the human body). They also offer a sauna service at an additional fee.
Yudonburi Sakae-yu Details
- Address: 1 Chome-4-5 Nihonzutsumi, Taito City, Tokyo 111-0021, Japan
- Access: It is a 12-minute walk from Minowa Station.
- Hours: Monday – Saturday: 2:00pm – 12:00am, Sunday: 12:00pm – 12:00am (Closed on Tuesdays)
- Price: 460 yen
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #3 – Ishidan no Yu
This gorgeous quaint little onsen is located in one of the more famous onsen towns in Gunma. It’s set in a peaceful surrounding, and is especially stunning in winter when surrounded by snow. The onsen is open to the public during the day at a very affordable price, and it’s quite popular with the locals, so you know you’ve got a good one!
Ishidan no Yu Details
- Address: Ikahomachi Ikaho, Shibukawa, Gunma 377-0102, Japan
- Access: From Tokyo Station, take the Takasaki line to Takasaki, and alight there to change trains to the Joetsu line for Yahigara. You will need to walk from there to Shibukawa Onsen, and then catch a bus towards Ikaho Onsen and alight at Ishidan no Yu. This will take just under three hours. Otherwise, driving from Tokyo will take two hours.
- Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm (closed every 2nd and 4th Tuesday)
- Price: 400 yen
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #4 – Mannenyu
This one is quite literally in the middle of Tokyo. It’s been welcoming customers through its doors since the 1960s, however, in recent years has been renovated to look clean and feel contemporary. It still retains a rather authentic classic look with wooden slats and walls. All the baths in this onsen have what Japanese people regard as ‘soft’ water, therefore it’s easy on most types of skin. One of the attractor factors is a 45-degree pure bath which is said to be able to penetrate even the deepest of pores to rejuvenate your skin. A denkiburo is also offered here.
- Address: 1 Chome-15-17 Okubo, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 169-0072, Japan
- Access: It is a 4-minute walk from Shin-Okubo Station.
- Hours: 3:00pm – 12:00am
- Price: 460 yen
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #5 – Yamato no Yu
This day spa is located just outside of Tokyo and is a great escape if you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The entire onsen complex is much bigger than the usual (it’s definitely making use of its location near a massive park, that’s for sure!), and offers an authentic-feeling but modern-looking onsen experience. It offers a variety of different styles of baths, including indoor and outdoor baths, small private baths which can be reserved, sauna rooms, guest rooms, lounge areas to rest in between, and event a fitness centre and restaurant! This is definitely a whole-day type of activity…
Yamato no Yu Details
- Address: 1630 Odake, Narita, Chiba 286-0841, Japan
- Access: From Ueno Station, take the Joban line towards Shimosa-Manzaki Station. It is a 22-minute walk from there.
- Hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm
- Price: 800 yen (weekdays), 1,000 yen (weekends)
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #6 – Takaban no Yu
This is your typical old-school style onsen establishment that’s no frills so you know you’re getting the real deal. It offers two regular baths, six jacuzzi-type baths, a chilled bath, as well as two different saunas that you can hop into in between the onsen baths. One of the regular baths is actually located on the roof so you can enjoy the beauty of the night sky as you’re soaking in the healing waters. This is a great option if you’re exploring the city and want a few hours of relaxation afterwards.
Takaban no Yu Details
- Address: 2 Chome-2-1 Takaban, Meguro City, Tokyo 152-0004, Japan
- Access: It is a 5-minute walk from Gakugei-Daigaku Station
- Hours: 3:00pm – 12:30am (weekdays), 2:00pm – 12:30am (weekends) (closed Fridays, 3rd Thursday)
- Price: 420 yen
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #7 – Soshigaya Onsen 21
If you’re after a relaxing experience, but also want to try and fit in as much as possible into that experience, then we highly recommend Soshigaya Onsen 21! It’s got a whopping total of five different baths and three different saunas. Amongst the various baths, there’s the standard bath, pure “silky” water bath, and white water bath. Amongst the saunas, there is the high temperature sauna, low temperature sauna, and a “freezing” sauna!
In addition, there’s also a mini-pool to chill out in, and a jacuzzi which switches between holding concentrated water (filled with various types of minerals for good skin), or carbonated water (for blood circulation). And if you’re feeling rich, why not book in an aqua massage session? It will apparently reduce your bloated belly after all that food bingeing!
Soshigaya Onsen 21 Details
- Address: 3 Chome-36-21 Soshigaya, Setagaya City, Tokyo 157-0072, Japan
- Access: It is a 5-minute walk from Soshigaya-Okura Station
- Hours: 2:00pm – 2:00am
- Price: 460 yen
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #8 – Mikokuyu
Mokikuyu is one of the most aesthetic onsen bathhouses in Tokyo. It’s tattoo friendly as well as barrier-free, meaning the elderly and less able-bodied are also able to enjoy this experience as well. It has been running for quite a while now, but was recently renovated in 2015, making it nice and contemporary both inside and out. The baths are obviously gender separated, but they alternate from week to week. The establishment does get creative with their bath concepts regularly, so visiting this place just once might not be enough.
- Address: 3 Chome-30-8 Ishiwara, Sumida City, Tokyo 130-0011, Japan
- Access: It is a 15-minute walk from Ryogoku Station.
- Hours: 3:30pm – 2:00am (Closed Monday)
- Price: 470 yen
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #9 – Kagoiwa Onsen Ryokan
For the pure onsen experience, completely removed from civilisation, with views where the sky meets the land, you will need to travel (just a tiny bit) out to Nikko. This onsen is actually located within a ryokan, and the site sits within the popular Nikko National Park (which hosts an abundance of activities and attractions during all times of the year, by the way). The bath itself is a completely open-air natural hot spring with the most scenic views – think bright blue skies, mountains in the distance, views of Kinugawa River, and surrounded by trees and farmland. The onsen is open to day-trippers, so don’t worry if you’re not a staying guest!
Kagoiwa Onsen Ryokan Details
- Address: 51 Takatoku, Nikko, Tochigi 321-2523, Japan
- Access: From Asakusa Station, take the Nikko-Kinugawa line to Tobu World Square Station and continue on to Shin-Takatoku
- Station. From Shin-Takatoku Station, it is a 5-minute taxi ride, or a 30-minute walk. There is free transport for staying guests.
- Price: 500 yen (they also offer a “lunch pack” that you can reserve for 1,500 yen where you get entrance to the bath, as well as a meal and a drink included).
- Book an overnight stay here.
Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Tokyo #10 – Hoshi Onsen Chojukan
We saved the best for last…or did we?
This bath is definitely not for those who are reserved in nature, because this is actually a mixed-gender bath, or konyoku. Here, everyone, despite their gender, will strip down to their birthday suits and hop into the baths together. This is actually the norm for most Japanese people, although the concept may come quite as a shock for some. The onsen bath itself is actually 140 years old, and its bath styles reflect its historic roots.
The interior emits an authentic ambience with its tall wooden structures and timber flooring. This is actually an accommodation facility as well so you can stay overnight here if the idea of traveling a few hours to get there doesn’t sound too appealing. There’s also restaurants onsite for you to stuff your belly after indulging in the refreshing hot baths! We also recommend to stay overnight for a complete Ryokan experience.
Hoshi Onsen Chojukan Details
- Address: 650 Nagai, Minakami, Tone District, Gunma 379-1401, Japan
- Access: From Tokyo Station, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Jomokogen Station, and alight there for the Jomo Kogen Eki. Take the Sarugakyo Line (via Yaze Iseki) towards Hoshi. Alight there and walk 1-minute to Hoshi Onsen Chojukan. The entire trip will take just under three hours.
- Hours: 10:30am – 1:30pm (Closed Wednesdays)
- Price: 1,000 yen
- Book an overnight stay here.
For those with tattoos on their body, know that you are not forgotten. We hope we’ve curated an interesting enough list of onsens across Tokyo (and beyond!) that allow tattoos in their facilities for you generously pick and choose the one you want to experience your first (or second or third) onsen experience at. Of course, all regular onsen etiquette applies at these facilities so please remember to keep your behavior in check, but at least you won’t be gawked at and judged here!
PS: If you are looking for a similar selection but for the Kansai area, check this out: Tattoo Friendly Onsen Kyoto Osaka.