Tourists banned from taking photos of geishas on private roads in historic Kyoto district

Tourists banned from taking photos of geishas on private roads in historic Kyoto district after complaints of visitors ‘chasing them down the street’ and tugging kimonos

  • The photography ban has been put in place in the historic Gion district in Kyoto
  • Anybody found flouting the rules faces a fine of up to 10,000 yen (£71/$92) 
  • Geishas have complained that some tourists take photos without permission  

A neighbourhood that is home to many of Japan’s geishas has banned tourists from taking photos on private roads and in private homes.

The ban has been put in place in the historic Gion district in Kyoto with fines of 10,000 yen (£71/$92) for anyone caught flouting it.

The new rules come after reports that some visitors to Gion have been taking pictures of geishas and maiko (apprentice geishas) without their permission, with some even being chased down the street or having their kimonos tugged.

Two maiko geishas walk down a street in the historic district of Gion in Kyoto. The district has banned tourists from taking photos on private roads and in private homes in the area

Other tourists are believed to have entered private property without permission to try to capture pictures of the women.

According to Japanese state broadcaster NHK the ban will cover the small private alleyways that lead off the famous Hanami-koji Street.

The street is a major tourist attraction thanks to its traditional restaurants and tea houses. However, tourists will still be allowed to snap pictures there.

An association of local residents and shop owners will hand out leaflets in Gion informing tourists of the photography ban in the private streets and will also enforce it.

Japan Today reports that video surveillance will be used to help track down offenders.

This is not the first time that Japan has cracked down on bad tourist behaviour.

The famous Hanami-koji Street, which is popular with tourists. Visitors to the area will still be able to take pictures here

The famous Hanami-koji Street, which is popular with tourists. Visitors to the area will still be able to take pictures here 

The city of Kamakura, in the east of the country and famous for its Great Buddha statue, has also issued official ordinance politely telling tourists not to eat food while walking in crowded areas to prevent the staining of other people’s clothes.

The ordinance describes eating while walking as a ‘public nuisance’ due to the potential for food to be spilled and comes amid tourist numbers of 60,000 a day in one area of the city – the Kamakura Komachi Dori Shopping Area.

For many, the signs may seem a little overbearing, but for the Japanese, they are just reinforcing normal etiquette in their country, which is to sit down to eat so that food can be properly appreciated. 


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