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As many tourists flock to the town of Kyoto to marvel at the numerous Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines what they forget to keep in mind is basic travel etiquettes and personal space. In an attempt to curb the growing problem of over tourism, a local resident group in Gion, a district in Kyoto, have voted to ban photography in the district’s streets and homes. The ban was put into effect on October 25 and tourists caught flouting the law will be fined roughly $92.
With tourists constantly harassing geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha), by photographing them and entering their homes without permission, chasing them, and tugging on their kimonos for pictures, the resident group in Gion has banned photography in the area to protect their privacy and preserve the traditional atmosphere of the district. There have been numerous complaints from local vendors and shop keepers about tourists littering, disrespecting Japanese culture and overcrowding the roads. This ban has largely been implemented in the Hanamikoji Street which runs through the Gion district.
Various signs have already been put up by the association informing tourists of the ban, leaflets have been distributed urging tourists to take permission before photographing the geisha and maiko. After receiving an onslaught of complaints from the residents of Kyoto, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is sending messages to the tourists entering the area within 1 km of the Gion district. On clicking on the messages visitors will be redirected to a website with warnings of possible infractions in both English and Chinese. Moreover, at Yasaka Hall in Gion a video informing visitors of appropriate behaviour is shown.
However, the problem of over tourism is not just limited to the city of Kyoto. Closer to home, various cities such as Goa and Shimla have also fallen prey to the issue. Internationally, the Sistine Chapel has also imposed a ban on photography in order to protect the site from thousands of tourists swarming the site with cameras. Even in Czech Republic, the church of bones has also banned photography due to inappropriate pictures being taken by the tourists and in order to protect the sanctity of the church.
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