NOT AN AMUSEMENT PARK: Japanese City of Kyoto Bars Tourists From Popular ‘Geisha District’

It’s a fine line between using your culture and traditions to help boost your tourism, and having these same culture and traditions destroyed by over-exposition and abuse by the tourists you attracted.

Take Kyoto, for example, where local officials have at long last decided to shut off access to its world-famous popular Geisha district, because the ‘paparazzi’ tourists are so disruptive and rude, harassing the ‘globally recognized Japanese women artists’.

The prohibition starts in April.

The historic Gion district will ban sightseers and tourists into the alleys and streets housing geisha and maiko (teenager trainee geisha).

Independent reported:

“Known to be a tourist-heavy spot, Gion is thronged by hundreds of thousands of people visiting Kyoto who seek to photograph Japan’s famous professional entertainers known for their trademark kimonos and white faces.

Isokazu Ota, Gion’s representative secretary of the town South Side District Council, told [media] that the small alleys will be completely shut off to tourists by next month with the growing menace of tourists.

Starting April, the alleys which also host several restaurants and teahouses, will only be open for the geisha, their clients, and residents of the district, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.”

Since 2019, local authorities have been fining tourists troubling geishas, as they are chased down private streets in the district, photographed and touched without their consent.

While their role through the centuries is often seen as involving sexual relations, contemporary Geishas reportedly do not sleep with their clients, since prostitution is illegal in Japan, and the geishas are cultural performers who are deeply respected.

“The problem persists as of now, Mr. Ota says, as tourists in large numbers throng to Japan after the Covid-19 pandemic with little respect for Japan’s social norms and etiquette.

‘I think the foreign tourists waiting for [teenager] 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’.

Peter Macintosh, a Kyoto-based Canadian author and expert on geisha culture, told [media]: ‘It’s crazy behaviour. It’s completely out of control’.”

Now that the district has been sealed off, the hope is that the geisha and maiko will be safe, and the millenary Japanese art will be protected.

Read more about harmful tourism:

Copenhagen Mayor Begs Tourists Not To Buy Pot at Christiania Freetown, After Deadly Shooting – The Problem? Half a Million of Them Visit Every Year for Exactly That

 

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