How One Association Turned Temporary Tattoos Into Allergy Warnings

A Japanese restaurant group is using temporary tattoos to warn tourists about the potential dangers of soba-noodle allergies. Even if you're allergic, at least you get a cool tattoo out of it.

Who knew a tattoo could save your life?

At least, it can in Japan, where life-threatening allergic reactions to the country’s popular soba noodles, which are made from buckweat, have caught some tourists, and even locals, off guard.

Obviously, that’s a huge problem. Fortunately, the 230 Soba Street Promotion Association is on top of it. The local restaurant group, which represents soba shops on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, has launched a clever campaign that uses temporary tattoos not only to promote local culture through cool artwork (based on the traditional ukiyoe style) but also to help determine whether people have a soba allergy.

Here’s how: The tattoo is applied to the skin using soba water. The tattoo creates small cuts in the skin, exposing users to a small amount of the allergen. That allergen causes a reaction in people sensitive to soba, and parts of the tattoo turn red within about 15 minutes if a person is allergic. That may disappoint those interested in trying soba, but, at the very least, it makes the tattoos more visually appealing.

“Many people are unaware they have a soba allergy, so the sticker is a good way to prevent allergic reactions,” a spokewoman for the association told The Japan Times.

If you aren’t allergic to soba or have no plans to visit Japan anytime soon, you can still enjoy the artwork. Check out these examples:






An example of someone with a soba allergy wearing a temporary tattoo. (230 Soba Street Promotion Association)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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