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You may GET FINED if you don’t know this in KYOTO

Culture, Etiquette

I talked about you have to consider taking pictures during sightseeing in this page, 6 things bother Japanese people by tourists.

Gion district, Kyoto city, is a very popular sightseeing spot in Kyoto and lots of tourists visit to see traditional, nostalgic, Japanese sites and Geisya girls(Maiko-san, Geiko-san).

On the other hand, local people and Geisya girls have been bothered by some ill-mannered tourists, and they had been making efforts to call attention in several ways such as sending push-notifications and patrolling signs across the area.

Unfortunately, there are still ill-mannered tourists who don’t follow rules.

The local association statemented the new ban beginning October 25, 2019.

UP to a ¥10,000 fine for photos taken

No photo

The local association has decided to ban taking pictures or movies on private streets without permission in the south district of Gion-cho, Higashiyama-ku, starting on October 25, in 2019.

In case tourists take pictures or movies in private streets without permissions in the prohibited area, they will possibly be fined up to ¥10,000.

Since 2016, they have set up pictographs signs showed prohibit photography or mannered-behavior to Geisha girls.

However, troubles among local people, Geisha girls, and tourists(domestic and foreign) who don’t innocently understand or intentionally don’t follow rules haven’t decreased.

The president of the association said that she is sincerely hoping they don’t need to punish tourists like this in the future.

*The association is made of local residents and local business owners of the south district in Gion.

The prohibit area

the south district of gion hanamikoji

According to this regulation, the prohibited area is around the main street, “Hanami-koji”(花見小路) in the south district of Gion-Cho.

It is confusing for tourists to find out which street is private or not, on the other hand, public streets such as “Hanami-Koji” is allowed to take pictures.

Roughly speaking, private streets in the area are more likely to narrow alleys to branch off the main streets or no outlet alleys.

If you are not sure whether the street is private or not, you can ask the guide or patrollers that usually walk around in the area.

Tourism pollution in Kyoto

There are negative impacts called “tourism pollution” or “overtourism”, that local people have been bothered by ill-mannered tourists.

  • Pull hard down “Noren”-Japanese door curtain
  • Chased Geisya and entered inside of the “Ocyaya” (qualified traditional restaurants where are allowed to enter patrons and Geisha girls.)
  • Put private stuff such as pucses, smartphones on delicate products or foods
  • Got on tatami floors without taking shoes off.
  • Left their private garbage
  • Sat on “Inuyarai”(Bamboo or plastic fences covered walls outside) or keep sitting on private and public streets or properties
  • Broken branches or flowers for taking pictures
  • Destroyed or doodled important national treasures.
  • Opened entrance doors suddenly at pruvate houses

sauce; the questionnaire from the south district of Gion

  • Blocked Geisya girl’s way to her work.
  • Tourists became paparatches, blocked Geisya and kept taking pictures
  • Touched thier “Kimono” wears with dirty hands.
  • Pulled their “Kimono” sleeves, it is very dangerous because they wear “Okobo”, high-heeled Kimono sandals. 
  • Pulled and tore the “Kimono” sleeve, put tabacco in the sleeve pocket.

sauce; Toyokeizaishinbun

What are other regulations in Gion?


Especially Kyoto is the center of the ancient history of Japan as well as Nara Prefecture, therefore, there are a little bit more strict own rules and regulations compared with other regions.

The “tourism pollution” is caused by not only language barriers but also the difference in recognition of public manners.

What exactly unpleasant manners there?

  1. Not block public or private properties sitting for a long time.
  2. No Litter
  3. Not trespass in private or prohibited area
  4. No smoking on the street
  5. No food and drink with waking
  6. No photos if the sign says
  7. Not block the whole street with a single line when you walk with companies.
  8. No drone
  9. Not block or touch Geiko girls

Kyoto Pictogram signs wikisauce;”Kanko Kogai”, Wikipedia

Travel, Enjoy, Respect

maiko san

Do you know the “Travel Enjoy Respect” campaign?

The campaign developed by the World Committee on Tourism Ethics in line with the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism to avoid over-tourism pollution with manuals in several languages.

The World Tourist Organization, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai mentioned:

Whenever you travel, wherever you travel, remember to: respect nature, respect the culture, and respect your host. You can be the change you want to see in the world. You can be an ambassador for a better future.

The UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai

Even for Japanese, Kyoto is one of the proud historical regions, where we have to protect ancient beautiful landscapes, temples, shrines, and traditions and want tourists from overseas to enjoy Japanese treasures too.

As the president of the association says, we (the Japanse) are hoping the day they don’t have to put signs throughout the area.

Culture, Etiquette
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