In Japan, tattoos have a different connotation than they doin some other countries.
Sport is one of the great human activities that has thepower to unite us all, in honourable competition and pursuit of better versionsof ourselves. Even if you barrack for different teams, you have a sharedlanguage with someone who loves a sport as much as you do. And sometimes thatmeans accommodating different cultures, or learning something about how otherpeople think.
This year, the Rugby World Cup is in Japan, and over there tattoos are strongly associated with organised crime. Of course, in Samoa there’s a very different meaning to getting inked – it’s a rite of passage from boy to man.
And so, while they’re over there, the Samoan rugby team haveagreed to cover up their tatts during training sessions with special skin suits.That’s especially the case when they’re hitting swimming pools. “There are sometraining venues that have allowed us to show our tattoos and some places wherewe can’t, and for those places, we’ve been given ‘skins’ to wear to cover ourtattoos,” said team manager Va’elua Aloi Alesana. “The extra skins are only forwhen we go to the pools though, at the training we can wear our normalclothes.”
Anyway, it’s interesting to think about where the line isbetween accommodating another culture’s beliefs and remaining true to your ownidentity, isn’t it? Amazing the kinds of questions that sport can bring up…
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