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Yukata Sizes Odaiba Oedo Onsen Monogatari

I will be taking a group of US college students to Tokyo. Our hosts have suggested Odaiba Oedo Onsen Monogatari as a possible activity - mainly the foot bathing and the festival hall. From past experiences, I know few/none of the students will be ok with public bathing in the nude.
I have two questions:

  1. I will ask about tattoos and warn the students. If there are 1-2 with tattoos, are there nearby alternative activities? If the tattoos are in a non-public area that would be covered by a yukata, will this generally be ok? Are folks there suspicious about bandages to cover small tattoos?
  2. I have a couple of larger students and I am a little worried about the yukata fitting properly. I know they have height sizes, but I think the bigger issue might be hips and thighs because the Western girls are shaped so differently from the Asian ones. However, I thought they might have some specifically for Westerners.
    If you can answer these questions, I’d appreciate it so I can respond to our hosts.
    Thanks so much!

Hi - this is Lily (I wrote the article a while ago about OOM). So regarding tattoos:

  • They are pretty intense with the signs etc and warnings, so your kids have to be ok with possibly actively denying them (e.g. I recently had to tick boxes confirming I had none on an Ipad, multiple times). The rules are complete bollocks (supposedly to do with gang affiliations - but actually just blankly discriminatory (sure your kids wouldn’t pass for yakuza any time soon), so they needn’t feel guilty about ‘not respecting Japanese culture’ or anything - it’s been accepted by the government etc it’s not fair, but private companies can continue to do it).
  • I have some on my back and collar bone and go to onsen a lot - you just have to be a bit sneaky and keep them covered if you’re in one that prohibits them. Depending on location you can use the small towel, hair or band-aids/coverings if they’re small enough. These are generally fine, they’re not suspicious about it - more of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach. Unfortunately, these private super-sento are more strict and have more staff around than regular onsen. If they’re keeping yukata on anyway it’s fine, just keep an eye out for staff when changing, but honestly a couple of small ones they’ll probably just turn a blind eye if you’re not causing other problems (they seem to have more of an issue with tattooed men in my experience anyway).
    With the Yukata Sizes:
    -They have up to a triple XL and it’s done by height, so if the students are a bit bigger they should fit, there are also men’s which will be broader, but might just be a bit long? I think of any location, they are the most likely to have the biggest sizes.
  • Nearby there’s a Science Museum called the Miraikan and there’s Venus Fort (a shopping Center) and Diver City which has shops, restaurants, amusement arcades etc and a sports/activity centre with batting cages etc (called Round 1) which could be a good option. There’s also Joypolis which is an indoor entertainment place. It’s not a very nice walk between the these areas and the onsen though, so maybe they should get off at a closer station (either Odaiba Kaihinkoen or Aomi).
  • On a final note, I would really encourage them to try it! I guess as a teenager I wouldn’t have been convinced, but it’s such a nice experience with your friends, and the atmosphere makes it feel totally normal - as in no Japanese people are awkward, so it doesn’t feel awkward. I hope some of them give it a go - when I went with friends it was one of the nicest bonding experiences (there’s a term called hadaka no tsukiai which refers to the special level of honesty/closeness reached when you onsen together).

Let us know if you have any other questions!

Lily

Thanks so much, Lily. It turns out that 3 of them have fairly significant tattoos places that won’t be covered well, so I don’t think we will do this as a group activity. However, I’m going to suggest it for free time for those that might be interested.
I haven’t been to this one, but I’ve enjoyed onsen a lot in the past and this one seems to have the summer festival atmosphere as well. I think they would love Instagramming it all! :smile:

No problem! Ah that’s a shame - there are some tattoo friendly options in the city, but they’re certainly less instagrammable haha. I hope some of them can enjoy it at least - hope you all have a great stay!

If I were you, I would not go to a place that was discriminatory on the basis of tattoos. For one thing, the kids who have them will be excluded from the activity, which is not fair to them. They should get to experience everything the other kids experience. For another thing, if you give money to these businesses who discriminate, they have no impetus to change their policy. There are onsen nearby that allow people with tattoos, so you should take your kids there.

The rule is archaic and way behind the times, since these days Yakuza don’t have tattoos. Only the older ones have them, as they are from bygone years when the yakuza actually had power and used tattoos to intimidate and demand respect. Nowadays yakuza aren’t even recognizable and just look like ordinary businessmen. They also never cause problems in public places, because they will get arrested very quickly, and then will be in big trouble with their boss for bringing problems and disorder to the organization. The police have cracked down HARD on yakuza for the past twenty years, and it shows - they are barely active these days and certainly won’t go around making trouble at onsen.

Besides, it’s beyond silly to imagine that an old grizzled 60 year old yakuza with a giant back tattoo is going to Odaiba for onsen! ROFL!! I suppose he would afterwards go shopping at Venus Fort for cute character goods and then play video games at Joyopolis, right? hahaha.

These exclusionary practices aren’t justifiable these days since the yakuza have no more power, and there are so many Japanese people with “fashion” tattoos that people don’t really associate them with gangs any longer. These attitudes are regressive and businesses should be boycotted until they change these idiotic rules.

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