Tattoos have been around for hundreds of years and are a great way for people to express themselves. Though tattoos have been gaining popularity and are quite common in the Western world, there are still lots of places around the world that still view them as taboo. If you are a lover of tattoos like myself and you have any tattoos at all, especially visible ones, these are some of the countries to be wary of when travelling to where imprisonment and deportation are a reality for people sporting their ink.
Though not entirely illegal, tattoos are massively frowned upon in Japan. It may come as a surprise to know this, as a form of tattooing originated from this very place. The stigma surrounding tattoos first started because of the gangsters in Japan who were fond of the form of self expression. The members of these gangs known as the Yakuza were often covered in tattoos. In recent years, more and more Japanese people have been slowly warming up to the idea of tattoos, though it still remains a taboo subject in certain parts of the country. Visitors to Japan who have visible tattoos are forbidden from entering public places such as gyms, bath houses, and resorts.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates has a population that consists of 85% Muslim. With such a large amount of the citizens practicing the Islam religion and Sharia law, it’s no wonder why tattoos aren’t very popular here. Tattoos are not socially acceptable in this country and they are very uncommon among Emirate people. Tourists planning on visiting the UAE are encouraged to cover up any offensive or inappropriate tattoos they may have. Since tattoos are frowned upon, those living within the country who have them face a tougher time in finding employment. Jobs such as police officers, airline workers, and those in the army are forbidden from having any tattoos whatsoever and those possessing any must have them removed beforehand.
When it comes to Sri Lanka, tattoos aren’t as big a problem here as they are in other countries. Though the country is less strict on the matter than some, when it comes to tattoos that depict Buddhas or any other Buddhist symbols there comes to be a problem. Sri Lanka is a predominately Buddhist country and are very sensitive when it comes to their religion. Buddha tattoos have long been viewed as offensive and insulting and have even gotten tourists into some hot water. In recent years, tourists visiting the country and sporting any offensive tattoos have been either arrested or deported out of the country.
In Vietnam, tattoos are viewed negatively by the government as well as the majority of the population. The reasoning behind it all is because tattoos are still considered to be associated with illegal and criminal activity throughout the country. People living in Vietnam are forbidden from owning or operating any tattoo shops and face serious consequences if found doing so. Though visitors to the country will not necessarily be arrested or deported for having tattoos (as long as they aren’t offensive to the Vietnamese culture) they are still looked down upon which could lead to some awkward or uncomfortable moments between the locals and visitors. Expect some weird looks and negative attention towards you if you are exposing your tattoos in Vietnam.
Tattoos in South Korea have long been controversial and therefore very unpopular and uncommon. Though it still remains to be a taboo topic within some of the older generations, some younger groups of South Koreans have become less opposed to the idea of ink. If someone in the country is looking to get a tattoo done, they must present themselves to a medical building in order for a trained medical professional to administer the tattoo. Doctors are the only ones in the country that are allowed to tattoo people which is a common practice within many Asian countries who are wary of the health risks they believe come along with getting tattooed. Those caught giving tattoos outside of the medical domain could face jail time for their actions. Tattoos have slowly been growing in popularity within the younger generation of South Koreans and more and more young adults can be seen sporting some ink. Those who are brave enough to be getting tattoos will likely not be jailed or punished compared to other countries, yet they will however be constantly viewed as anti-social people who go against society’s beliefs as well as the order of things. A large majority of the population still think this way about tattoos and still view those with tattoos as delinquents, criminals, and gangsters.
One of the only countries in the world that have put a complete ban on all tattoos (not just religious tattoos), Iran is one of the worst places to be if you are a proud owner of any tattoos. Though there aren’t any official forms of punishment laid out by the Iran law for having any tattoos, the vast majority of the population in the country consider it taboo and suspects of the crime are charged with hurting public chastity. Iran is a predominately Muslim country with 99.4% of the citizens practicing Islam. The more conservative Muslims view tattoos as a sign of Westernization which goes against the Muslim law. Tattoos are also viewed as a form of self-mutilation which is highly frowned upon and those who have tattoos are thought to be devil worshipers who are ignoring God.