Kyoto, Japan cracks down on rude tourists hassling geisha

BANNED TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: As Japan's tourism has grown exponentially, Kyoto has struggled to maintain its local way of life

Tourists in Kyoto will no longer be able to take pictures in privately-owned alleys near one of the most photographed spots in the city – Gion neighborhood banned photography.

Thousands of foreign tourists fill the Kyoto city’s streets daily, many staying in local hotels while others visit as part of day trips from nearby Osaka.




Gion, with its narrow alleys and picturesque teahouses, is a particularly popular area and home to many of Japan’s geishas.

An association of residents and shop owners in the Gion district imposed the ban on photography in private alleys near Hanamikoji street, effective on Friday. Locals say the ban has come after disrespect shown by some visitors.

The area’s traditional stone pavements, restaurants and tea houses are a major tourist attraction.

Inevitably, the Gion district of narrow, flagstoned alleyways and discreet tea houses where Japan’s legendary geisha have performed for centuries has become a must-see for visitors.

That has, however, led to a clash of cultures. Geisha have complained of being chased along streets, pressured to pose for selfies and even pursued into tea houses and their homes.

Foreign tourists have also tried to touch their kimono and elaborate wigs and to pluck the delicate ornaments from their hairpieces.

Surveillance cameras have been set up to ensure tourists stick to the new rules, although it is not clear who will be tasked with enforcing them.

Association members put up signs informing visitors of the ban.

They also handed out leaflets urging tourists to ask for permission before taking photos of geisha and maiko.

People will be fined 10,000 yen, or roughly 100 dollars, for taking photos in the private alleys without permission.

Association chief, Mimiko Takayasu, says the ban has been imposed to preserve Gion’s traditional atmosphere.

Many tourists are keen to get a photo of a geisha in Japan but some are taking it too far.

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