30 Tattoo Friendly Onsen in Japan

No matter the size of your tattoo, ink is no problem.

Traditionally, visitors with tattoos aren’t allowed in Japan’s onsen (natural hot springs) because of an age-old association with organized crime. However, times are changing, and more and more onsen have relaxed their policies regarding their clientele’s ink — in some cases to accommodate foreign tourists.

We’ve compiled a list of some of Japan’s best onsen that allow tattoos, and they range from ultra-scenic and local to a few no-frills facilities. It’s worth noting that nearly one-third of the list comes from Beppu City in Oita Prefecture, as it is concentrated with tattoo-friendly onsen. As with any trip to the onsen, be sure to adhere to the rules and manners of the facility, and if you’re a hot spring first-timer, check out these other GaijinPot guides to onsen in Japan.

From the northernmost region of Hokkaido all the way down to the Kyushu region, here are 30 tattoo friendly onsen worth visiting while in Japan!

 

Northern Japan

1. Hoheikyo Onsen, Hokkaido

Located in the suburbs of Sapporo in the onsen town of Jozankei, this onsen is especially serene in the winter when you can bathe under the falling snow. Its rotenburo (open-air bath) is one of the largest in Japan and can fit around 200 people. Fill up on curry after your bath at the adjacent Indian restaurant.

🔍 Website 📍 Map

🚌/🚃: JR Sapporo station (take an approx. 80 min. bus from there). Free shuttle available from downtown Sapporo.

2. Fukiage Onsen (Recreation Facility Shirogane), Hokkaido

A popular destination for skiers and outdoorsy people, Shirogane (Map) not only offers cheap lodging, but lovely bathing as well! What better way to end a long day of snow sports then with a long bath with friends or a partner in this mixed-gender onsen? Swimwear is required for mixed bathing, which is great for shy bathers. It’s ¥600 for day trippers or ¥2,600 for nearby lodging.

🔍 Website (Japanese) 📍 Map

🚌/🚃: JR Kamifurano station (20 min. by car from there.)

3. Onogawa Onsen Komachi no Yu, Yamagata

This is a beautiful handmade rotenburo with a sulfuric smell that’s supported by the locals. Please be sure to pay the bathing fee of ¥200 into the wooden box before hopping in, as this onsen is unattended. If you’re traveling in mid-June to mid-July, there is a firefly festival, so it might be more crowded, but also more fun!

🔍 Website (Japanese)📍 Map

🚌/🚃: Nishi-yonezawa or Minami-yonezawa station (Acess to this onsen requires a bus ride (30 mins to 1 hour) or about a 20 min. taxi ride from either station.)

4. Zao Onsen Dairotenburo, Yamagata

The Zao area in Yamagata is an absolute hotbed of onsen, so hopefully, this tattoo-friendly spot will allow more tourists to experience its beauty. The turquoise hue of the onsen water in the middle of the lush forest is magical, and this natural hot spring boasts a giant rotenburo that fits up to 200 people. The strongly acidic sulfuric nature of the water is perfect for skin rejuvenation after skiing in the winter or hiking in the warmer months.

🔍 Website (Japanese)📍 Map

🚌/🚃: Zao onsen station (An 18-min. walk or 5-min. taxi ride from there.)

 

Central Japan

4. Kagoiwa Onsen Ryokan, Tochigi

Photo by: かご岩温泉旅館

Located in scenic Nikko, this ryokan (traditional inn) makes for a perfect weekend getaway from Tokyo. The indoor and outdoor baths offer grand views of the Nikko mountain range and the Kinugawa River. Plus, these healing waters are said to remedy muscle and joint pains and even a stiff neck and shoulders.

🔍 Website 📍 Map

🚃: Shin Takatoku station

6. Kinugawa Onsen Koen Iwaburo, Tochigi

This recently renovated onsen has a serene garden with a stone-lined rotenburo. It is one of the public onsen in the ryokan-filled onsen town of Kinugawa, known for its alkaline simple water which relieves stress and exhaustion.

🔍 Website (Japanese)📍 Map

🚃: Kinugawa-koen station

7. Yamato no Yu, Chiba

Photo by: _tainotar_

Come here if you crave some R&R in a scenic yet convenient location before you leave Tokyo — it’s only about 40 minutes from Narita Airport. The wood-paneled interior and soft lighting give it the atmosphere of an expensive spa. The complex includes indoor and outdoor baths, as well as a sauna and a naturally heated “radiant bath.”

🔍 Website📍 Map

🚃: Shimosa-Manzaki station

8. Hoshi Onsen Chojukan, Gunma

Located in Joshinetsu-kogen National Park, this onsen was founded 140 years ago and is a nationally registered tangible cultural property. The baths here are especially beautiful and include a rotenburo, a cypress bath and baths for mixed bathing.

🔍 Website📍 Map

🚃: Jomokogen station (Take an approx. 35 min. taxi from there)

9. Ikaho Ishidan no Yu, Gunma

Photo by: yusuke_chigira

Located in one of Japan’s most renowned onsen resorts, Ikaho Onsen, the water here is known for its high level of iron, coloring it a reddish brown. It is thought to help fatigue and poor circulation. This onsen can get crowded with just one bath for each of the sexes, but the location is prime if you want to explore Ikaho. At just ¥400, it’s an inexpensive way to do onsen. Be sure to bring your own toiletries as they don’t have shampoo or soap available.

🔍 Website (Japanese)📍 Map

🚃: Hototogisu station

10. Sekizenkan Onsen, Gunma

Built in 1691, this is Japan’s oldest hot spring hotel, located in the historic onsen town of Shima. The water is of such good quality that it is known as “the cure for 40,000 illnesses” (Shima means 40,000 in Japanese). It’s not the most glamorous bath, but it’s definitely a must-visit for any Studio Ghibli fans — the bridge leading to this bath was used as a model for the movie Spirited Away!

🔍 Website📍 Map

🚌/🚃: Nakanoji station (Take a bus to Shima Hot Springs and get off at the last stop, or take an approx. 30 min. taxi from there.)

11.Tsukiore Onsen Takimi no Yu, Ibaraki

This Japanese inn and hot spring is perfect for a day trip if you are going to see the phenomenal Hitachi Seaside Park. Tucked away in the less-traversed Ibaraki Prefecture, you can stay the night or do a bath here during the day. Tattoos of any type are allowed in this simple alkaline spring what that’s great for your skin. Inside and outside baths available. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

🔍 Website (Japanese)📍  Map

🚃: Nearest train station: Fukuroda on the Suigun line

12. Tenzan Tohji-Kyo, Kanagawa

Photo by: kamakura_rai358

Tenzan, a ryokan that welcomes daytime guests, is in Hakone, one of Japan’s most famous onsen towns. Its many baths form a waterfall you can bathe in and you can feel the temperature rise as you climb to the higher baths. Established in 1966, if you’re up for more than an onsen, get a luxurious private room and bath. (Please note that for this place, while they allow tattoos, it would likely not be acceptable to have a full back or other larger works.)

🔍 Website (Official/Japanese) Website (English)📍  Map

🚌/🚃: Tonosawa station OR Hakone-Yumoto station (About a 30-minute walk or 25-minute taxi ride from there. Bus is also an option.)

13. Hottarakashi no Onsen, Yamanashi

Photo by: jugemu616

This outdoor onsen offers impressive views of Mt. Fuji and the city of Yamanashi stretching below. Opening times change throughout the year according to when the sun rises so you can see the stunning sight while bathing. You can also bathe after dark under a sky full of stars.

🔍 Website (Japanese) 📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Yamanashishi station (Take an approx. 9 min. taxi from there.)

14. Tsubame Onsen, Niigata

This is a secluded forest onsen known for its milky, mineral-filled waters. Tsubame Onsen is comprised of two outdoor baths at the base of Mt. Myoko. Both are free — a rarity in Japan. Ougon no Yu is made up of two pools divided by a rock wall and opens in early spring, but may take a bit of a hike through snow to get there. The other, Kawara no Yu, is a mixed gender bath only open from June to December on account of the heavy snowfall. There are local shops nearby to buy a towel, drink or snack, or ryokan if you want to spend the night (note that the onsen there may not be tattoo friendly).

🔍 Website (Japanese) 📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Myokokogen station. (Take a taxi approx. 25 min. from there.)

 

Western Japan

15. Funaoka Onsen, Kyoto

Photo by: Funaoka Onsen

With vintage tiles on the walls and wood carvings on the ceilings, this bathhouse has a distinctly retro feel. It has many types of baths, including what is thought to be the country’s first denki buro, or electric bath. A low-level electric current runs through the water, supposedly soothing sore muscles and making for a distinctly unique experience.

🔍 Website (Japanese) 📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Kuramaguchi station. (Walk approx. 20 min. from there).

16. Kin-no-Yu Onsen, Hyogo

This is the oldest of the many onsen in Arima, known to be one of the earliest onsen towns in Japan. This quaint town has cobblestone streets and even a free foot bath. It is located in the Rokko Mountains near Kobe, making for a convenient day trip or a lovely overnight one. The onsen water itself at Kin-no-Yu is a dark orange with regenerating minerals.

🔍 Website 📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Arimaonsen station

17.  Kinosaki Onsen, Hyogo

This onsen town dates back 1,300 years and has retained the charming atmosphere of traditional Japan. Walk the willow-lined streets of Kinosaki in a yukata (light robe) and geta (wooden sandals) to visit the seven public onsen, all of which allow tattoos (as for the ryokan, their policies may differ).

🔍 Website 📍  Map

🚃: Kinosakionsen station

18. Dogo Onsen Honkan, Ehime

One of Japan’s oldest and most famous onsen, Dogo Onsen is said to be one of Ghibli’s inspirations for the bathhouse in Spirited Away. Its traditional wooden exterior is impressive and grand. The area around the onsen retains a traditional vibe, where visitors walk the streets in yukata.

🔍 Website 📍  Map

🚃: Dogo Onsen station

19. Seaside Onsen Noumi, Hiroshima

The nearby view you’ll get from the onsen.

For one of the best sunset locations in the Seto Inland Sea, head over to this island onsen with a view. Relax in a spacious rotenburo and mineral-rich water or chill inside and have a delicious meal of sashimi and tempura teishoku (set meal) at this spa facility located on Etajima island.

🔍 Website  (Japanese)📍  Map

🚃/🚢: Hiroshimako station (Not really accessible by train past there. Try a ferry, which is a 30-min. ride from the ferry terminal to Etajima. The ferry terminal is a 1-min. walk from the train station.

 

Southern Japan

20. Sansui Global Inn, Saga

Photo by: sansuiglobalinn

This inn’s Ureshino Onsen has both private and public baths, each decorated with colorful murals. It even made the list of Japan’s Top 3 onsen thanks to its skin-beautifying properties.

🔍 Website  (Japanese)📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Takeo-onsen station. Take a taxi (approx. 25 min.) or a bus (45 min.) from there.

21. Takegawara Onsen, Beppu, Oita

Photo by: Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone

Come here to try the unique indoor “sand bath,” in which you lie (wrapped in a yukata) in a bed of thermally warmed sand while an attendant shovels more sand on top of you, covering you all the way to your neck. This iconic Beppu Onsen location attracts a lot of visitors from overseas and has regular onsen baths, as well.

🔍 Website  (Japanese)📍  Map

🚃: Beppu station

22. Kitahama Termas, Beppu, Oita

Photo by: Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone

What Kitahama Onsen Termas lacks in history (it opened in 1998), it makes up for in the variety of baths and a relaxing seaside view. Kitahama is unusual in that it allows bathers to wear swimsuits in their mixed gender rotenburo, which affords a sweeping vista of Beppu Bay. They also have a selection of different indoor baths, including a steam mist bath and a waterfall shower. This is a popular New Year’s spot to watch the first sunrise of the year while soaking.

🔍 Website  (English) Website (Official/Japanese)📍  Map

🚃: Beppu station (It’s a 13-min. walk from there).

23. Yuya Ebisu, Beppu, Oita

Photo by: Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone

A public onsen belonging to Ebisuya Ryokan, Yuya Ebisu is perched on a hill, offering grand views of Beppu Bay from its water. Two baths offer two different experiences–a sulfur spring that helps exfoliate the skin, and a simple spring which helps moisturize it. There’s also a rock bath, a dimly lit room in which you lie on pebbles which help release impurities and reduce fatigue.

🔍 Website  (English) Website (Official/Japanese)📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Beppu station (Take a bus approx. 30 min. or a taxi approx. 20 min. from there)

 24. Kannawa Mushiyu, Beppu, Oita

Photo by: Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone

This onsen has the most popular steam room in all of Beppu, which is covered in sekisyo, or Japanese rush leaves, with medicinal properties, said to encourage sweating. No other steam room in the country uses these plants, which are collected weekly by city employees. The room is set at 75C and just 10 minutes inside will give you the equivalent detoxification of 30 minutes in a regular sauna.

🔍 Website (Japanese)📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Beppudaigaku station (Take a taxi approx. 10 min. from there.)

25. Hyotan Onsen, Beppu, Oita

Photo by: Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone

This Michelin three-star onsen in the heart of Beppu and is blessed with a chloride spring, which promotes moisture and heat retention via its salt content. Noted as an “onsen leisure” facility, it has 16 baths, some of which are private. Open until 1 AM, it’s perfect for you late-night bathers and weary travelers. It’s ¥750 for an adult, but you can also rent a private bath here starting around ¥2,100.

🔍 Website 📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Beppudaigaku station (Can take a 15-minute taxi from there.)

26. Shibaseki Onsen, Beppu, Oita

Photo by: Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone

Surrounded by the rustling branches of trees on the nearby mountainside, this onsen offers one of Beppu’s most relaxing and secluded baths. Legend has it that Japanese royalty soaked in these healing waters as far back as 1044. There are two hot springs with different temperatures, a rotenburo, a steam bath, and special baths that families can reserve.

🔍 Website (Japanese)📍  Map

🚃/🚌: Kamegawa station (About a 15-minute taxi ride from there.) OR approximately 20 minutes from JR Beppu Station towards Shibaishi. Bus options from JR Beppu Station East Exit. Get off at Shibusiizu Hot Spring entrance.

27. Horita Onsen, Beppu, Oita

Photo by: Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone

The popular sulfur onsen here may leave you feeling like you’re in “egg soup” because of the visible minerals floating around, but it’ll be awfully refreshing. At just ¥210 per person, this is one of the cheaper onsen, but you should bring your own soap. Indoor and outdoor baths are available.

🔍 Website  (Japanese)📍  Map

🚃/🚕: Beppu station (About a 15 or 20-minute taxi ride from there.)

28. Beppu Beach Sand Onsen, Beppu, Oita

This warm sand bath on Shoningahama beach is described as “a trip to heaven.” Lie in naturally hot sand while gazing across the ocean with a multi-colored umbrella shading your face (a great photo op!) This is the most memorable fun on the beach you can have in Oita. Wash off your sandy cocoon at one of the traditional onsen nearby.

🔍 Website  (Japanese)📍  Map

🚃: Beppudaigaku station

29. Kaimonji Onsen, Beppu, Oita

Photo by: Toyonokuni Millennium Heritage Tourism Zone

This is the perfect spot for travelers who want to try onsen while sightseeing in Beppu City. For the cautious, the municipal bath has a lukewarm bath as well as a hot bath. It’s near Kaimonji Park, so after a romp around the area, refresh yourself here for just ¥100!

🔍 Website 📍  Map

🚃: Beppu station (A 4-minute walk from there.)

30. Ekimae Koto Onsen, Beppu, Oita

This one doubles as a modest inn and onsen. Extremely close to Beppu station, Ekimae Koto Onsen is the perfect backpacker hub to refresh after enjoying the nightlife in Beppu city. This century-old onsen has two bath temperatures: extremely hot at 48 Celsius, as well as one at 44 Celsius.

🔍 Website (Japanese)📍 Map

🚃: Beppu station (A 2-minute walk from there.)

If you make it out to one of these locations, tag us on social media with #GaijinPot Travel!

Editor’s Note: At the time of publication (July 2018), these onsen have been verified as “tattoo friendly.” However, since there is yet to be regulation against private establishments discriminating against those with tattoos in Japan, technically, the final word is up to these establishments on a case-by-case basis. 

Correction: Formerly #11 on the list, Urara no Yu Juo in Ibaraki was previously on the list but has been taken off, as they have alerted us that they are NOT tattoo friendly. We deeply apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.