In Kyoto, Japan, a famous area known for its traditional geisha performers is changing its rules for tourists. Starting in April, visitors will not be allowed to enter private alleys in the Gion district. This decision comes after many people living there complained about too many tourists. The local council made this choice to keep the community and its culture safe.

Kyoto Cracks Down on Tourists in Geisha District to Preserve Culture

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Kyoto Sets New Tourist Rules to Protect Geisha District

Kyoto's Gion district is well-known around the world. It's a place where geisha, also called "geiko" in Kyoto, and their apprentices, "maiko," show off their skills in music, dance, and storytelling. But the beauty and fame of Gion have drawn lots of tourists, which has caused problems for the people living there.

According to the Times of India, residents have been upset by the tourists' behavior, like trying to take pictures of geisha without permission or getting too close. To solve this, the Gion district council asked the city for help. They want to remind everyone that Gion is not just a place to visit; it's also where people live their everyday lives.

Even though the main street, Hanamikoji Street, will still welcome tourists, the narrow private alleys will be off-limits. Signs have been put up to tell tourists not to take pictures in these private areas, and there could be fines for not following this rule.

The council's efforts aim to respect the privacy and culture of Gion while still letting people enjoy its beauty. This move by Kyoto is part of a bigger effort in Japan to handle the challenges of having too many tourists while protecting important cultural sites.

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Kyoto Elects New Mayor to Tackle Tourism Issues

Kyoto has a new mayor, Koji Matsui, who won the election last month. Matsui, supported by multiple parties but running without an official party endorsement, plans to address the city's problem with too many tourists. 

As shared by the Japan Times, one of his big ideas is to change the fares for buses and subways. He wants to make it cheaper for people who live in Kyoto and more expensive for tourists. However, to do this, Japan's laws need to change, and it's not yet clear if this will help reduce the crowding on public transport.

Matsui got 177,454 votes, beating Kazuhito Fukuyama, who received 161,203 votes. The voter turnout was 41.67%, slightly higher than the last election. Matsui has worked in different roles, including as a bureaucrat, politician, and university teacher. He says he learned a lot from the tough campaign and heard what residents really think.

Tourism has been a big issue in Kyoto, especially since the city had over 43.6 million visitors in 2022, with 576,000 from other countries. This has led to crowded places, traffic, and litter. Matsui wants to make transportation easier for locals and is considering special buses just for tourists and limiting cars in the city during busy times. He also plans to introduce "smart" garbage cans to help with the litter problem, thanks to business donations.

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