On the 20th, the day of the Spring Equinox, Gion, a popular tourist spot in Kyoto, was bustling with many foreign tourists.

On Hanamikoji Street in the center of Gion, you can see maiko on their way to their tatami rooms and other places.
However, there is a problem happening in an alley one street down from Hanamikoji.
Foreign tourists are spreading out to the sides, blocking the narrow path, and taking pictures.

The alley is lined with townhouses, but because of its narrowness, photography is prohibited.
What we heard from the neighbors was a series of disturbing behavior that we could hardly believe in our ears.
A neighbor said, “Some people go into the bathroom without permission. I found myself sleeping here.” “They touch everything. They wipe their hands with the curtains. They have an attitude of “Why can’t you move out of the way?”

The area is a mixture of public and private roads, and the private roads where the nuisances continue to occur are lined with houses and stores.
Even so, the local people have graciously allowed people to pass through on private roads, but this is no longer the case.

Isoichi Ota, secretary of the Gion-machi South Side District Council, said, “If this many people come, it will become impossible to pass through. If the maiko stays in the area, the teahouses will not be able to come out. (When the maiko come out, people take pictures of them and surround them as if it were a shutterbug opportunity, so it is very difficult.

In response to this situation, the council that manages the private roads in Gion has decided that, in principle, tourists are not allowed to enter the area, and since April, signs have been posted on the private roads.
A fine of 10,000 yen will be imposed for violations.

An Indonesian tourist said, “It’s a shame that I won’t be able to experience this anymore. It’s so beautiful here, and you can’t see it anywhere else.”
American tourist: “I think it’s a good idea, and with the spread of social networking sites, now is the time to think about it.”
In the Gion area, the so-called “maiko paparazzi,” in which tourists chase and photograph maiko, has been a problem for the past 10 years.

They have even had their kimonos yanked off and torn, and cigarette butts put up their sleeves.
To prevent such problems, the taking of photographs on private roads was banned in principle five years ago.
However, the nuisances have continued unabated, forcing the council to impose the ban this time around.
Mr. Ota, secretary of the Gion-machi South Area Council, said, “The best thing we can do is to try to deal with the problems that residents are having.

Gion, Kyoto, where the spirit of hospitality is passed down from generation to generation, was forced to make a difficult decision. Those who have been plagued by the nuisance have voiced their welcome.
The Gion council intends to ban passage through other private streets in the future.

March 20, 2024

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