March 23, 2020
By Aki Kawashima, Arisa Yamauchi and Haruki Ishimoto
Kyoto is the one of the oldest cities in the world. Just ten years ago, the number of inbound visitors to Kyoto was only 930,000. In 2011, the number dropped by almost half. This is because of the Tohoku earthquake. In the period after the earthquake, the number shows a dramatic improvement. In 2013, “Washoku”, a traditional Japanese cuisine, was added to the World Heritage List for food. The following year, Kyoto was chosen as the World’s Best City for the first time by “Travel + Leisure” – one of the most influential travel magazines in the world. In 2015, Kyoto was chosen as No.1 again. Since then, the number of tourists has exploded. About 3.5 million people from overseas visited Kyoto in 2017 and the number of people from different countries continues to rise. Surprisingly, in fact, the number of tourists has increased by seven times, 5,000,000 people since 2011. In this article, we would like to introduce about the problem of transportation and the garbage problem in Kyoto city as a result of ‘Over-Tourism’.
Why Has Kyoto Become So Popular?
There are many reasons to answer this question. First, Kyoto is much safer than Europe at the moment (2019), so tourists who come here from Europe, for example, don’t have to worry about crime. Indeed, Kyoto is one of the safest international cities on the planet. Second, the cost is very reasonable. The weak yen makes Japan a cheaper holiday destination. This has also contributed to a sharp increase in tourists. Moreover, direct international flights from Europe to Japan have been increasing. Finally, the Japanese Government also has relaxed visa restrictions for visitors from Asia, particularly China. Thus, the increasing number of tourists in Kyoto is actually better for the economy. However, “too many tourists” can bring problems to a popular destination such as Kyoto. For example, manner and congestion, to name a couple.
Do You Know The Word “ Over-Tourism”?
The word “over-tourism” is quite new, so it hasn’t formally been entered into popular dictionaries like Oxford or Collins. This means that when a place starts to become popular or fashionable to visit, problems occur: crowded buses and noise pollution to name just two. It goes without saying that having too many people in the same place also contributes to the problems of garbage. In other words, a rapid increase in the number of tourists to Kyoto is having a serious impact on local people’s daily lives.
The rapid increase in the number of tourists in Kyoto is having a serious impact on the local population and is becoming extremely frustrating about this problem. Let us outline a few of them in more detail. First, the most serious problem is public transportation. You will see many tourists waiting for the bus in long lines. This creates much longer waiting times at the bus terminal in Kyoto. And tourists often ride the bus with suitcases. It blocks local people, so they can’t find seats. It is really uncomfortable and inconvenient. Perhaps inconsiderate, too. But this is part of modern daily life in Kyoto these days. Actually, we have seen this situation many times. But we couldn’t work out why they always use buses and not the subway. We searched on the Internet, and I we found a clear answer to our question. In Kyoto, there is a travel pass for buses everyday. Tourists can take a bus as many times as they want and visit the key sightseeing spots cheaply. Indirectly, and attempt to make Kyoto more attractive place to visit, this travel way is creating problems by making the public transport system, especially buses, overcrowded. Secondly, we would like to highlight the problem of garbage. This has also become a serious problem. Actually, Kyoto has found a way to solve it. Ten years ago, in the Kamo River, there were a lot of trash cans along the banks. You could eat lunch and throw it into the trash can. You could also do fireworks and throw them into the trash can. With good manners, the riverside was always kept clean. But some tourists throw trash cans for their private-use. Also, 6 years ago, the Kyoto government decided to remove all trash cans from the Kamo River area. However, the more the number of tourists has grown, the more the amount of garbage has increased.
Nishiki Market and Gion
Nishiki Market and Gion are now one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist spots in Kyoto. Tourists can easily experience eating traditional Kyoto food while walking through Nishiki Market. As a result, some tourists throw their garbage on the street on and around Nishiki Market. In addition, in Gion, for example, trash cans become full quickly, so staff have to replace garbage bags many times in a day. This behavior has a negative impact on the local people.
Finally, we will suggest what we would do for the ‘over-tourism’ problem. In terms of over-tourism, things could get a lot worse before they get better. Personally, and in addition to the solutions mentioned above, we feel the Kyoto City Government could do more to teach tourists how to behave. What we mean is: manners. Japan is going through a tourist boom. As a result, we have the opportunity, more than at any time before, for cultural exchange. If we embrace this opportunity, we believe that we can make Kyoto a better place for residents and visitors alike.