TOKYO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Bledisloe Cup rivals New Zealand and Australia have been ordered to cover up their tattoos during pool sessions out of respect for Japanese culture.
The teams clash in Tokyo on Saturday and the players have discovered that body ink is still frowned upon in public swimming pools and bath houses.
Many pools and most public baths will refuse entry unless visitors cover their tattoos with bandages.
Tattoos traditionally signified links to Japan’s “yakuza” mafia, whose bodies are heavily decorated with markings.
Players from both teams have been working out in pools wearing training vests to cover their arms and torsos and dainty swimming caps at odds with their hulking frames.
“I‘m a religious person and none of my tattoos represent gangsters or anything,” Wallabies winger Digby Ioane told AAP. (Reporting by Alastair Himmer. Editing by Ed Osmond. To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)