Kyoto, Japan enacts new rules for tourists visiting the city

Kyoto, Japan is implementing new laws to keep foreign photographers from taking pictures in ways that should not happen.
A couple seen admiring the autumn leaves at To-ji Temple in...
A couple seen admiring the autumn leaves at To-ji Temple in... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

Traveling around the world is an enjoyable experience, but it can also be a daunting one. Going to foreign countries means that travelers must govern themselves by the rules and regulations of those lands. Just because something is “allowed” in the United States, just mean it is acceptable in another part of the world. Kyoto, Japan is implementing new rules for travelers, and this is what you must know if you’re going to this popular country in Japan.

When walking around Kyoto, many tourists enjoy cutting downside streets and alleys. While this is acceptable in major cities like New York, Kyoto is implementing fines for those who do that here. Kyoto is beginning to ban tourists from walking down some private alleys throughout its geisha district.

“We are going to put p signs in April that tell tourists to stay out of our private streets,” said Isokazu Ota via a wire service and reported by Alison Fox of Travel & Leisure.

These rules are being put into place to help protect the geisha throughout the city. These well-known performers are frequently photographed by tourists, so much so that Japan has enacted warnings against what are considered “nuisance activities.” For example, photography of the women is prohibited.

This may not seem like a “big deal,” but one of the popular activities when visiting Japan is to stop and take pictures. With such a beautiful landscape, it’s understandable that tourists would want to capture memories of their trips. But how they do so has become a problem, leading to regulations such as this one.

“The people taking pictures of the streets of Gion on the main street and the tourists taking pictures of [apprentice geisha] from afar are probably unaware of the rule against photography,” Ota also told CNN. “But I think the foreign tourists waiting for [apprentice geisha] to come out in the alleys of Gion’s photography-prohibited areas know the rules but are ignoring them.”

Other areas such as Mount Fuji have also enacted new regulations. For example, there is now a limit on the number of climbers, along with new practices with the guides placed on the mountain.

Ignorance of the laws countries use to govern their land isn’t a good enough excuse, so it's important to know what areas like Kyoto, Japan are regulating and why. Take a moment to do a bit of research or ask locals when in the area to make sure you are respecting the cultures that you take part in during your travels.

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