Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tattooed Maori denied entry to public bath in Hokkaido

Tattooed Maori barred by bath in Hokkaido

With the Olympics headed to Tokyo, government officials are raising concern after a New Zealand woman with a traditional Maori tattoo was denied entry to a bathhouse.

Erana Te Haeata Brewerton, who was attending an academic meeting on indigenous languages, said Friday she was refused entry to the bath in Eniwa, Hokkaido.
Tattoos are often associated with yakuza, and many public institutions bar people who have them as a way to keep gangsters out.
Maori people have facial “ta moko” tattoos because they “tell people who the person is and where they are from,” Brewerton said. “My moko tells other Maori people which tribe I am from.”
“We protested, saying the tattoo was not anything anti-social and that only respected people are allowed to wear them in her culture,” said Kenji Sekine, an Ainu language lecturer.
The episode last Sunday came just hours after Japan was awarded the rights to host the 2020 Olympics and as the government readied a welcome campaign for foreigners.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he thinks “it is important to respect the cultures of foreign countries.”

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