Do Not Touch Maiko! Officers Patrol Gion for NuisancesTourism Pollution Measures
Due to the concentration of visitors from Japan and abroad, annoying behavior toward "Ochaya," or tea houses where guests are entertained by geisha, and Geiko and Maiko, or geisha and apprentice geisha, has become a problem around Hanami-koji Street in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto. As a result, various measures will be tested this fall, including delivery of information about manners to visitors' smart phones when they come into the area, distribution of patrol officers, and other efforts. After considering the requests related to this made by the local council "Gion-machi Minamigawa-chiku Kyogikai," Kyoto City announced its policies on June 11 that it will promote the countermeasures by utilizing a project of the Japan Tourism Agency.
Kyoto's unique townscape, with place like Ochaya, still remains on both sides of Hanami-koji Street in the Gion-machi Minamigawa. It is a popular spot visited by approximately half of Kyoto's foreign visitors, however, "Tourism Pollution," including touching Maiko without permission, has become a serious problem over roughly the past five years. In a council survey last year of restaurants and residents that are members, various incidents were reported, including unauthorized trespass on private land to take photographs, and damage to traditional structures.
These tests are scheduled for the October-November period. The city plans to indicate annoying actions, using some features like "Push Notification," which will be shown automatically on the screen of tourists' smart phones when they approach the area. Additionally, patrol officers who speak multiple languages will be deployed in order to caution tourists about problematic actions on the spot. Furthermore, the number of surveillance cameras will be increased, and video surveillance signs will be posted.
So far, the council has called upon tourists to improve their manners using notice boards, showing prohibited actions which interfere with the activities of Geiko and Maiko. At that day's first review session meeting at Higashiyama Ward Office, Mimiko Takayasu, council chairperson, said, "We have taken action, but it's like playing cat and mouse with tourists. Our area is not a town for sightseeing. We want tourists to understand that we are really in trouble due to these breaches in manners."
The city will analyze tests results and consider full-scale implementation from the next fiscal year as well as expanding the measures into other areas.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)