Tattooed Samoans are going to wear skin suits to avoid offending Japanese hosts

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For the upcoming Ruby World Cup in Japan, some of the Samoan players are going to wear skin suits to hide their traditional Pacific Islander tattoos to avoid offending the hosts.

The reason is that for the Japanese, tattoos have been associated with members of the “yakuza” crime syndicates.

Inked tourists are often banned from gyms, bathhouses and traditional hot-spring resorts.

Tattoos are a fundamental part of the Samoan culture, but they will respect their Japanese hosts, and the following has been said on the matter by team manager Va’elua Aloi Alesana: “We have to respect the culture of the land we are in wherever we go.

"We have our own culture as well but we are not in Samoa now.

“There are some training venues that have allowed us to show our tattoos and some places where we can't, and for those places, we've been given 'skins' to wear to cover our tattoos.

"The extra skins are only for when we go to the (swimming) pools though. At the training we can wear our normal clothes."

Last December, all the players were advised by World Rugby to cover up the tattoos during the tournament.

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The Samoan players won’t use the skin suits during the matches or training sessions, only in public places. Samoa coach Steve Jackson even called in Japanese cultural experts to ensure players appreciate the local culture.

About the skin suits, Samoa captain Jack Lam said: "It's quite normal in our culture, but we are respectful and mindful to what the Japanese way is. We will be making sure that what we are showing will be OK."

Samoa will face Russia in their opening pool stage match on the September 24, before facing Scotland, Japan and Ireland for the remaining Pool A matches.

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