Overseas tourists have always been attracted to the bright lights of Tokyo and the tranquil, historic atmosphere of Kyoto. Japan’s participation in global events, like the current Rugby World Cup and the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics, will surely skyrocket the already high number of foreign tourists.
Kyoto, one of the top tourist destinations in the country, has unfortunately become a prime target for naughty tourist behaviour. In response, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has collaborated with the Kyoto Municipal Government to create a smartphone update that details proper etiquette and protocol in popular tourist spots, both in English and Chinese.
Currently just in the trial stage, this smartphone update will be pushed through city-sponsored tourist mobile apps and portable electronics rented from hotels, reminding tourists that they are in a working, living city and not a theme park of traditional Japanese culture. The notification sends users to a web page detailing the rules and etiquette, such as not smoking while walking and not stopping in the middle of a road.
The Japan Times reported that through a questionnaire answered by local residents, most misbehaving tourists are guilty of following and taking pictures of geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha), trespassing on private property, and generally being in the way while taking a pic for the 'gram.
In addition to the smartphone app, there will also be patrolling guides to remind tourists of proper, respectful behaviour. The city will be using images captured through security cameras to evaluate the effectiveness of this protocol. But don't worry; the aim here is to help local residents feel at peace in their neighbourhood rather than an Orwellian action targeting foreign tourists. The trial has started in Gion, a charming, historic neighbourhood famous for geisha, and will run through December 8.