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Tattoos and Getting a Job in Japan

by Shane
(New Zealand)

Hi, I'm from New Zealand and I have a couple of tattoos. One taking up my upper right arm above the elbow and a couple on my lower leg. How would I go with these in Japan? Business attire I know I can hide them but are they a big deal if we have to do sports or anything like that?

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Feb 07, 2018
Tattos and Getting a Job in Japan
by: John

Hi Shane,

Your question is culturally complex. So I am going to give you the down and dirty on this one. I had to "interview" a few Japanese to actually get right down to the heart of it.

1). The issue is complex because of the perception of foreigners in Japan and the certain slack we are given because we are not Japanese. This means the mentality - "it's okay, he/she doesn't know our culture and doesn't know any better so it is okay."

2). The reality of it as it exists for Japanese in Japan. You got a tattoo and want to be a cop?
No job for you. Want to work at City Hall or a Ward Hall? Go fill-out an application at McDonald's. No job for you. Any political ambitions? No job for you. Any kind of community
hall leader of a group. No job for you. Any government related position. No job for you. School teacher. No job for you. Major companies read: Mitusbishi, Toyota, Mizuho, Hankyu, JR. Go apply at 7/11.

Bottom line: places that are public, it is in poor taste to show tats. Uncouth, not the sharpest knife in the drawer are you? Life didn't quite work out for you did it? This is generally how it is viewed by the Japanese.

3). Now, You may be given a tiny bit of slack as a foreigner because SOME Japanese might give you the benefit of the doubt. But most won't.

I personally know some foreigner teachers with tats. They hide them. Long sleeve shirts in summer when it is 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If your perspective employer sees it in an interview, No job for you. After you're employed he/she sees it - No Renewal of contract for you. Unless you have a BLAZING personality and are extremely well liked at your school.

Of course in a public bath house, it's okay. But then again these places are run by organized crime members. Not exactly stand-up citizens of the community.

This goes just the same for pierces. Unless it is in an except-able place like the ear lobe.

Lastly, think of it this way. 100% real-deal Japanese junior high school children born with slightly brown hair actually dye their hair black.

I think that says it all.

Best of luck to you

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