Gion Shirakawa Sakura Light-up Resuming after Three Year HiatusSecurity Enhanced for Congestion Dangers
The "Gion Shirakawa Sakura Light-up," which was suspended due to difficulty in ensuring safety as tourists increased, will resume next spring after a three year hiatus. The cityscape with cherry blossoms and Kyoto's traditional townhouses standing in a row, mainly along the Shirakawa River in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, will be lit up for 10 days from next March 29. In addition to sponsorship from local stores and other sources, a subsidy from Kyoto City financed out of the accommodation tax revenue, collection of which began in October, is being utilized to strengthen security arrangements.
The illumination began in 1990, and from 2006 has been held by an executive committee consisting of local residents and others with support from local stores, Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Kyoto Buddhist Organization. The area is a pleasure quarter which is registered as one of the national Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings, and it has become increasingly popular for its elegant streets, the flow of the Shirakawa River and the colors of cherry blossoms.
Initially, it was a friendly event for mainly local residents, but the number of tourists has increased year by year and foreign tourists have also surged in number recently. In 2016 when the event was last held, congestion intensified with approximately 300,000 people visiting there. Shirakawa Minami Street was overflowing with people during peak periods, so dangers such as collision with vehicles at intersections were pointed out. Next spring's 28th illumination will be run with a strengthened system, including an increased number of security guards, due to a subsidy from Kyoto City.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)