Kyoto To Fine Tourists Who Walk Through Private Alleyways In Its Geisha District

Residents in Kyoto have become fed up with overtourism and misbehaving tourists.

Cover image via Satoshi Hirayama/Pexels & Bloomberg/The Japan Times

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Popular tourist destination, Kyoto, will ban visitors from passing through some of streets in the city's geisha district as a way to combat overtourism

Gion, Kyoto's geisha district, is known for picturesque teahouses, where women — called geisha — wear traditional kimonos and hair ornaments, and perform Japanese traditional arts such as singing, dancing, and playing instruments.

It is one of Japan's most visited historical spots. Tourists, armed with cameras, often crowd the district's narrow, winding alleyways, hoping to photograph the women on their way to dance classes or a fancy dinner party.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Satoshi Hirayama/Pexels

To counter the issue of overcrowding, the Japanese city will put up signs in April to tell tourists to keep out of their private streets, reported the Associated Press.

The sign will have its message in both Japanese and English, reading, "This is a private road, so you are not allowed to drive through it."

"We don't want to do this, but we're desperate," said Isokazu Ota, an executive member of the Gion district council.

Besides overcrowding, misbehaving tourists was also cited as one of the reasons for this ban

For years, there have been numerous reports about tourists harassing the geisha, including tugging at the women's kimonos, pulling out their hair ornaments, chasing them around with cameras and smartphones, and even throwing cigarette butts at them, reported CNN.

Despite Kyoto's efforts to protect the women, such as putting up signs to prohibit photography and warnings of potential fines, they've been unsuccessful.

Ota said that tourists have gotten bolder and more brazen since the return of mass tourism to Japan after the pandemic.

Tourists who fail to comply with this ban will be fined 10,000 yen (about RM318.70)

The ban covers several blocks of Gion.

Gion's main Hanamikoji Street, which is public, will remain open to tourists, reported The Japan Times.

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