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Misbehaving tourists force authorities in Japan to shut alleys of renowned geisha district

by Staff

Kyoto, revered as Japan’s ancient capital and a cherished tourist destination, grapples with the impact of overzealous visitors, prompting authorities to close off private-property alleys in the renowned geisha district of Gion due to rising complaints.

The bustling streets of Gion, characterised by narrow and quaint pathways, have been overrun with tourists, often guided by tour operators, a local district official told Associated Press.

In response to mounting concerns, the official announced plans to erect signs in April, explicitly barring tourists from accessing private streets. The signage, featuring warnings in both Japanese and English, emphasizes the prohibition on pedestrian passage, with a 1,000-yen penalty ($70) to those who violate the rule.

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The prohibition has been imposed in a limited area within Gion, leaving public streets accessible to tourists, ensuring that the district and the broader expanse of Kyoto continues to attract visitors from around the globe.

Nonetheless, the discontent in Gion highlights the trend of over-tourism even as Japan’s reliance on revenue from tourists for economic growth continues to rise.

Gion’s labyrinthine alleyways host traditional teahouses where geisha and their maiko apprentices showcase dance and music in ornate attire.

Renowned for its temples and gardens, Gion stands out as one of Kyoto’s most enchanting and historically significant locales that draws tourists who want to experience Japan’s cultural richness.

Complaints regarding misbehaving tourists have simmered for years, though the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic briefly alleviated tensions by curbing tourism. However, with the resurgence of visitors, discontent has resurfaced.

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