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Looking for tattoo friendly Onsen in Kyoto?

Experiencing a Japanese Hot Spring bath is an essential for many travelling to Japan and luckily there is an abundance of options.  Onsen are popular for their ability to relax and heal the body and mind and being situated in an incredibly scenic country means the experience is often accompanied by beautiful and tranquil views.

The onsen do require full nudity, which can obviously leave many foreign visitors hesitant (but trust me, once you overcome the fear, there’s no going back) but it also means that people with tattoos are likely to be denied access to the facilities.  Tattoos are a highly taboo subject in the country as they’re often associated with Yakuza, a well known, mafia-like, crime organization.

Kyoto is famously traditional as it preserves many of the historical elements of Japanese culture which means it can be difficult to find an accepting onsen or sento even for those completely innocent paw print tattoos.  Luckily difficult does not mean impossible, here are 10 tattoo friendly onsen/sentos in Kyoto:

 

Kyoto Arashiyama Onsen Kadensho

Anyone visiting Kyoto will find themselves in the Arashiyama area as it’s one of the most popular places in Kyoto, known for its stunning bamboo forest, it’s friendly monkeys and it’s traditional food and souvenir shopping.  Making this onsen, not only visually striking but also convenient.

Kyoto Arashiyama Onsen Kadensho

For tattooed people, there are still some restrictions as the public bathing facilities which are directly connected to natural hot springs are off limits but the 5 private artificially created onsen are available.  The private areas have many different beautiful styles and do not require reservation but you must be a guest at the hotel to gain access.

Address: 5-4 Arashiyama Nishiichikawacho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, 616-0003
Website: https://www.hotespa.net/hotels/kadensho/

 

Hanaikada

For those planning with a larger budget, this Arashiyama hotel offers complete tattoo access to all it’s bathing facilities along with having each room come complete with it’s own, natural hot spring bath.

The gender separated open-air onsen offers a striking view of Togetsukyo Bridge, the Oi River and Mount Atago, leaving all visitors the chance to sit in total relaxation while gazing at Kyoto’s most beautiful, natural sites while benefiting from each passing season.

Address: 57 Arashiyama Nakaoshita-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Website: http://www.hanaikada.co.jp/english/

 

Funaoka Onsen

This is a particularly enjoyable sento (man-made onsen) for visitors who want to immerse themselves into the culture as from the outside in, the building is designed and decorated with a traditional Japanese style. This gender separated bathing house offers several different types of bathing options including choices of temperature, speed, indoor/outdoor and medicinal priority, at low prices.

As it is located at the foot of Mt. Funaoka, which offers a popular, off the beaten track, shrine infested hiking trail, this onsen is a perfect place for hikers to relax after a tiresome day of exploring.

Address: Shinominamifuneokacho, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 603-8225
Website: http://funaokaonsen.net/index.html

 

Gokouyu

This Sento may not be as aesthetically pleasing from the outside as one might have hoped but it is well known among long term residents of Kyoto as not only tattoo friendly but also as foreigner friendly with many english explanation posters throughout.

It offers many different gender separated bathing facilities and prides itself on it’s special radium bedrock bath which releases small amounts of radium resulting in extra healing strength but unfortunately no super powers. There are also Sauna facilities and a small cafe available.

Address: 600-8357 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Kakimotocho, 590-12 五香湯 1F
Website: https://www.gokouyu.net/

Onsen Etiquette – The Dos and Don’ts in Japanese Public Baths (Infographic)

 

Kyoto Kitashirakawa Fudo Onsen

For those looking to completely immerse themselves in the culture, look no further than this hotel which can be found close to the famed Fudo-in Temple.  The hotel’s onsen offer natural radium mineral springs coming directly from the granite in the back of the mountainside and contain many minerals that greatly benefit the body.

It’s reviewed as a peaceful and remote location where one can also enjoy an assortment of traditional Japanese food.  Booking an overnight stay is not required as day guests are welcome!

 

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Address:  1-125 Kitashirakawa Jizodanicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 606-8294
Website: http://www.radium-onsen.com/index.html

 

Hakusanyu Rokujo

Another plain and simple but tattoo friendly sento can be found just a 10 minute walk from Kyoto station.

This bath house again offers many different gender separated bathing options, including outdoor experiences and weekly changing herbal choices.  You may also enjoy the arguably tacky but majestic lion head fountains or the cheap admission price at only 450 yen per adult.

 

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Address:〒600-8304 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, 艮町893
Website: http://hakusanyu.co.jp/rokujo

 

Kinpeiro

Kinpeiro onsen kyoto

Credit: 木津温泉 旅館 金平楼 Facebook

This tattoo friendly onsen is built around some of the oldest discovered hot spring waters in Kyoto.  Although not considered luxurious, the inn offers 6 private comfortable onsen rooms perfect for families or groups with indoor and outdoor options and it is situated close to Shotenkyo beach. 

They also sell packages to include authentic Japanese dining, and pride themselves on their crab which has been highly rated by Kyoto locals.  The inn does not require people to stay overnight but reservations are necessary.

Address: 971-1 Kitsu, Amino-cho, Kyotango-shi, Kyoto
Website: https://kinpeirou.info/

 

Tennen Onsen Tensho no Yu

This natural hot spring bathing facility will not break the bank at only 450 yen and stays conveniently open until 1AM, perfect for the tired backpacker. It offers an amenity of different medicinal bathing options with outdoor and indoor choice. There is also a sauna giving your body and skin all it could possibly require at an extremely reasonable rate.

 

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Address: 19-4 Nishikyogoku Daimoncho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, 615-0812
Website: http://tensyonoyu.web.fc2.com/index.html

 

Ume Yu

This is a unique sento popular among college students for it’s laid back atmosphere.  Not only does this cheaply priced, tattoo friendly bath house offer all usual bathing amenities along with a sauna but on Thursdays when the bathing areas are closed, they hold live performances in the bathing and changing areas.  It’s an unusual and cool place to visit with English speaking staff ready to answer any onsen related questions you may have.

 

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Address: 175 Iwataki-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, 京都市下京区岩滝町175

 

Kurama Onsen

This is probably the most beautiful option a tattooed person in Kyoto may have for an onsen experience but they, unfortunately, only accept foriegn people with tattoos, not Japanese people with tattoos.

It is one of the most popular onsen available in Kyoto as one can sit in the outdoor tub surrounded by nothing but mountain and forest.  Although part of a Ryokan, day visitors are welcome.  It is slightly more pricey at 2500 yen but considering the stunning location and easy access from Karuma-dera mountain, it may be worth every penny.

 

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Address: 520 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 601-1111
Website: http://www.kurama-onsen.co.jp/

I would presume, most Yakuza members probably don’t rock as pretty a ballerina tattoo as I do but with complete respect for Kyoto’s effort in maintaining its traditional culture, I’m happy to report there is still a chance for the tattooed among us to experience the magic of onsen, thanks to these accepting, tattoo friendly locations.

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KatC
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An Irish girl, living and working in Osaka.  Kat came to Japan expecting to stay a year and 3 years later, has no plan to leave after falling in love with the culture and beauty of the country.  She’s passionate about writing, travel, fitness and new experiences.