These places have since made tattoos legal. However, for many years these countries had bans on tattoos for various cultural and medical reasons, but mostly just because tattoos are so badass.
1) New York and Massachusetts
New York took extreme measures against tattooing back in 1960, and by extreme measures we mean some old guy in a building wrote a bill saying that tattoos are bad and nobody can get them anymore because he said so.
And shortly thereafter, he made fun illegal.
The real reason behind the law was a mass hysteria of a hepatitis outbreak, which lead lawmakers to make a law making tattoos illegal from 1961 to 1997.
The strange and illogical authorities in Massachusetts also made tattoos illegal all the way up to the year 2000, with punishments including possible jail sentences.
Japan also made tattoos illegal up till 1946. They did this because tattoos had negative associations and are often thought to symbolize the yakuza, an organized crime group that apparently most people in Japan don’t like very much.
We don’t know why, but some people are aversive to gangs.
The law was so embedded in society that some Japanese business would refuse customers that had tattoos. However, we imagine that you can’t deny Japanese gangsters service for very long.