"Few People" Visiting Arashiyama and Golden Pavilion due to COVID-19Sharp Drop in Kyoto Tourism
Crowds are sparse around the Arashiyama area of Ukyo Ward, Kyoto. In a usual year, there are throngs of people, shoulder to shoulder, flowing through the Arashiyama Shopping District next to Togetsu-kyo Bridge, even after the Chinese New Year Holiday. According to the vice-chairperson of the shopping district, the number of tourists decreased significantly the day after foreign tour travel was banned by Chinese Government on January 27. Alarmed by the looming crisis, the vice-chairperson said, "The economic shock has been huge, because our business during this season is particularly dependent on Chinese customers. It is unclear how long this will last. The impact is off the scale."
The owner of a souvenir shop near Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion, Kita Ward, said with a sigh, "The number of tourists has fallen to less than half that of a usual year. Since February, the number of Westerners and Japanese has also declined greatly."
A man who runs a Shinto ritual articles shop on the rear approach to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Fushimi Ward, said, "Every year, up to 200 tourist buses a day come here, but this year I have seen only a few. I think the (nearby) restaurants are suffering a lot because they bought ingredients and employed staff in anticipation of Chinese New Year. I hope this problem ends soon." A man at a souvenir store on the approach to Kiyomizu-dera Temple bemoaned the situation saying, "I think this extreme drop is a first since the ancient capital tax issue (in which Kiyomizu-dera Temple and other temples went on strike due to the attempted tax on entry fees in the 1980s.)"
Japanese tourists have had various reactions. A female tour participant from Aichi Prefecture said, "I didn't think it was serious enough to cancel my trip, but I do worry. I wear a mask, gargle and disinfect frequently." A male company employee from Saitama Prefecture who was walking around Arashiyama without a mask said with even a hint of satisfaction, "There were fewer people than I had expected. It was easy to walk and I could feel the elegant atmosphere."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)