Tattooed All Blacks playing in Japan at next year's Rugby World Cup won't have to cover up at every spa, beach, or gym, with hundreds of facilities listing themselves as 'tattoo friendly'.

Ahead of next year's event, World Rugby advised the teams and supporters attending that they would need to cover up any tattoo markings in public places for fear of causing offence - as such body markings are associated with the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia.

World Rugby advised players to wear rash-vests in public spaces like pools and gyms while an education programme was launched online earlier this year.

However, it seems many Japanese facilities have become more lenient based on the understanding that tattoos are part of traditional culture in some countries such as New Zealand.


Hundreds of beaches, hotels, pools, and spas have since been listed on Tattoo Friendly - a website launched to help tourists locate tattoo-accepting facilities.

Meanwhile, a famous Japanese hot spring resort has followed suit by launching their own tattoo friendly map for the city of Beppu in the World Cup host prefecture of Oita.

A city official explained that it was often difficult to distinguish between gangsters and other guests which was why 70 per cent of the 2,000 hot springs in Beppu refused tattooed guests but said they were encouraging operators to designate "tattoo OK times" so more visitors could enjoy the facilities.

New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams. Photo / Getty
New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams. Photo / Getty

During the All Blacks' recent tour where New Zealand played Japan at Yokohama Stadium, Sonny Bill Williams offered insight into the culture shock of covering his tattoos but said he was appreciative of the opportunity to visit the country and that he respected its values.

"The first day we were here we went to a gym and we all had to cover up so there were a few long sleeves, tights and calf sleeves going around," said Williams.

"But I think that will be the norm for the players who are lucky enough to come over here, and we just have to respect the values that the Japanese people have – that's just how it is."