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Tourists To Be Banned From Kyoto’s Geisha District Due To Misbehavior

Geisha in Kyoto, Japan
Geisha in Kyoto, Japan [Image by Nicole Ene from Pixabay]

Local officials in Gion, the popular geisha district of Kyoto, are now banning tourists from the streets and alleys in the area. The reason is the lack of cultural awareness and the subsequent bad behavior by the tourists. It also forms part of the overtourism that has been affecting Japan since the end of the pandemic.

Kyoto officials to ban tourists from Geisha District due to misbehavior

According to a report by The Independent, issues with the geishas of Kyoto have been ongoing since 2019. So-called paparazzi tourists regularly harass the traditional female artists, leading to authorities fining those who breach good conduct. Reportedly, the geishas were being chased in the streets and photographed without their consent. Moreover, some tourists were touching the women, also without their consent.

Geisha in Japan
[Image by Vinson Tan ( 楊 祖 武 ) from Pixabay]
Meanwhile, tourists can only photograph a geisha (or maiko – a teenage geisha in training) with their consent. Moreover, according to local regulations, this must take place only on public roads. However, this hasn’t been the case.

What is a geisha?

Geishas are female Japanese performing artists and entertainers. They are trained in traditional Japanese performing arts, including music, singing and dancing. Moreover, the geisha are proficient conversationalists and hosts. Meanwhile, the geishas and maiko wear beautiful traditional clothing and white face paint.Each year, thousands of visitors flock to Gion to see the silk-clad geishas, but now overtourism is taking its toll. The tourists are irresponsible due to a lack of cultural awareness, which will now bring an end to the popular attraction for tourists.

When will the ban come into effect?

Geisha in Japan
Geisha in a temple in Japan [Image by G Poulsen from Pixabay]
Authorities plan to put the new ban on tourists in April as Japan celebrates the popular spring cherry blossom season. This is a time when many visitors from around the world travel there to experience the beauty of the blossoming cherry trees. Once the ban is in place, the only people allowed in the area will be the geisha, residents and the geisha’s clients.

Speaking to CNN, Isokazu Ota, the representative secretary of Gion’s South Side District Council said:

I think the foreign tourists waiting for maiko to come out in the alleys of Gion’s photography-prohibited areas know the rules but are ignoring them. Even if we warn tourists, it is difficult to get through to them at this point.

Officials recommend always asking anyone for their consent before photographing them while on vacation. Meanwhile, visitors should research the local culture, traditions and etiquette before traveling to the country. Moreover, Japan is particularly known for its strong sense of cultural etiquette and tourists will have a more enjoyable visit by being aware of what is acceptable and what is not.

In other recent news relating to Japan and overtourism, country officials are planning on implementing a tourist fee for visitors to Mount Fuji. The popular site suffers from human-made pollution as tourists attempt to climb the mountain. While this clearly makes for a less-than-perfect experience for visitors, it also negatively impacts Fuji-ko and those who worship the mountain.


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