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10 Tattoo-Friendly Onsen in Kansai

Got tattoos? Worry not. Here is a list of tattoo-friendly onsen in Kansai that will allow you and your ink to enjoy their baths

By 5 min read

As a land of many natural hot springs, Japan has a rich history of onsen (hot spring baths). Visiting an onsen is one of the essential ways of experiencing traditional Japanese culture and is the perfect way to relax and soothe your aches and pains after a long day of travel or work. Unfortunately, due to their association with the yakuza (the Japanese mafia), many onsen deny entry to those with tattoos. But there are still plenty of onsen towns and public baths that welcome tattooed customers to their facilities. Here are ten of the best tattoo-friendly onsen in Kansai.

1. Kinosaki Onsen, Hyogo

Not one, but seven tattoo-friendly onsen.

At the top of our list of tattoo-friendly onsen in Kansai is the town of Kinosaki Onsen, on the northern coast of Hyogo Prefecture. This town has been a popular spot for a relaxing getaway, and its traditional architecture and serene atmosphere remain well-preserved. It features seven tattoo-friendly onsen. Visitors can buy a combination ticket for the Onsen Meguri, which allows entrance into all seven. You can even purchase a map with a stamp section and collect a stamp at each onsen you visit.

78 Kinosakicho Yushima, Toyooka, Hyogo - Map
Nearest station: Kinosakionsen station
Admission: ¥1,500 combo ticket, ¥900 for Sato no Yu, ¥800 for each of the other six onsen

2. Arima Onsen, Hyogo

Arima Onsen is one of Japan’s three ancient onsen towns.

An even older onsen in Hyogo Prefecture is Arima Onsen, located in the mountains behind the city of Kobe. Founded 1,300 years ago, Arima Onsen is one of Japan’s three ancient onsen towns and has been frequented by nobles, samurai and emperors. The town has two public baths, Kin no Yu (golden hot spring) and Gin no Yu (silver hot spring), which allow tattoos. Both baths specialize in one of the town’s two types of hot spring waters, called kinsen (gold water) and ginsen (silver water). Several ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) also allow visitors to use their baths on day trips.

833 Arimacho, Kita Ward, Kobe, Hyogo - Map
Nearest station: Arimaonsen station 
Admission: ¥800 for Kin no Yu (¥650 on weekdays), ¥600 for Gin no Yu (¥550 on weekdays), ¥1,200 for a combination ticket

3. Nada Onsen Suidosuji, Kobe

This tattoo-friendly onsen in Kobe is centrally located in the city’s Nada Ward and is a popular spot with locals. Due to its proximity to Mount Rokko, it is also the perfect place to take a dip and relax your muscles after a day of hiking. Though it can get crowded on weekends and evenings, several baths and other facilities exist. Nada Onsen Suidosuji has outdoor and indoor baths, a jet bath, and an electric bath, and the facilities also include a sauna and massage chairs.

1-26 Suidosuji, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo - Map
Nearest station: Maya station
Admission: ¥450

4. Saki no Yu, Wakayama

Saki no Yu affords beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

This open-air onsen is on the coast of Wakayama Prefecture in Shirahama, which is a popular beach and resort destination today. Shirahama is another of Japan’s three oldest hot springs and is mentioned in the Nihonshoki, an ancient chronicle of Japanese history. Located right on the coast, Saki no Yu affords beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. Because the onsen water flows into the ocean, shampoo and soap are prohibited. Taking a dip here is more of an experience than a cleansing bath, but this tattoo-friendly onsen is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

1668, Shirahama, Nishimuro District, Wakayama - Map
Nearest bus stop: Yuzaki
Admission: ¥500

5. Tsubo Yu, Wakayama

It is one of the oldest and smallest onsen baths in the country.

Bathing in Tsubo Yu in Wakayama Prefecture consists of a small rock tub inside a tiny wooden cabin. It is one of the oldest and smallest onsen baths in the country. It is essentially a private onsen since it fits only two or three people. Each group is allotted 30 minutes inside the bath. Tsubo Yu is also along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range.” Not many onsen can boast UNESCO status, but this one can.

Hongucho Yunomine, Tanabe, Wakayama - Map
Nearest bus stop: Yunomine Onsen
Admission: ¥800

6. Ryujin Onsen Motoyu, Wakayama

An isolated onsen town deep in the mountains.

Tucked deep into the mountains in Wakayama Prefecture is Ryujin Onsen Motoyu, one of Japan’s most beautiful onsen. This isolated onsen is rumored to have been visited by Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism after his vision led him to it. It consists of an indoor and outdoor bath with mountain views. The baths are part of a hotel, and the small onsen town is an ideal stopping point between the Kumano area and Mount Koya.

37, Ryujin, Ryujinmura, Tanabe, Wakayama - Map
Nearest bus stop: Ryujin Onsen 
Admission: ¥800

7. Kurama Onsen, Kyoto

Luckily, the best onsen in Kyoto allows tattoos. This place is Kurama Onsen, located in the mountains just north of Kyoto city in the town of Kurama. This onsen complex offers indoor and outdoor baths, with beautiful mountain views from the latter. Though the onsen is closed for renovations, reopening is scheduled for June 26, 2024.

520 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto - Map
Nearest station: Kurama station
Admission: ¥1,000 for outdoor bath, ¥2,500 for both outdoor and indoor baths, including amenities and a yukata rental

8. Funaoka Onsen, Kyoto

A traditional looking tattoo-friendly onsen.

Located in northwest Kyoto near Kinkaku-ji Temple, this tattoo-friendly public bath is one of the best to visit in the city. Though it is technically not a natural hot spring bath but rather a sento (public bath) with artificially heated water, Funaoka Onsen still offers a classic bathing experience and a variety of baths to choose from. The bathhouse includes two outdoor baths, a traditional cypress-lined bath, an herbal bath and  Japan’s first electric bath.

82-1 Murasakino Minamifunaokacho, Kita Ward, Kyoto - Map
Nearest station: Kitaoji station
Admission: ¥430 for the bath, ¥600 for the bath and sauna

9. Sauna no Umeyu, Kyoto

English-friendly and within Kyoto city limits.

If you’re on the other side of Kyoto near Higashiyama, Sauna no Umeyu is a great choice for a relaxing bath. Not only is this sento tattoo-friendly, but the staff also speaks English and offers English instructors for first-time visitors to Japanese public baths. Though the facilities have recently been renovated, the bathhouse dates to the Meiji period and retains a retro atmosphere. Another unique aspect of this bathhouse is that it holds live events on Thursdays when the public bath is closed.

175 Iwatakicho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto - Map
Nearest station: Gojo station 
Admission: ¥490

10. Irifune Onsen, Osaka

Irifune Onsen is a modern sento in southern Osaka. This tattoo-friendly public bath offers several kinds of baths and amenities, including an electric bath, a cold bath and a sauna. There is also a relaxing area with massage chairs and free Wi-Fi by the lobby. If you forget your towel or shampoo, they have everything you might need for your bath. Irifune Onsen is popular with locals and travelers, and the staff can speak English.

1-6-3 Haginochaya, Nishinari Ward, Osaka - Map
Nearest station: Shin-Imamaya station
Admission: ¥520
Many hot spring resorts that do not allow tattoos in their public baths offer private baths, where no one will see or care about your ink. Here are some popular hot spring resorts and spas in Kansai that offer private baths:

Do you know of any other tattoo-friendly onsen in Kansai? What is your favorite onsen in Japan? Let us know in the comments!

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