Kyoto’s Gion District Erects Signs Banning Tourists from Private Alleyway; Tourists’ Disrespect Toward Geiko, Maiko Cited as Reason

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A sign prohibiting tourists from entering a private alleyway in Kyoto’s Gion district is seen on Wednesday.

KYOTO — Signs prohibiting tourists from entering a private alleyway were erected Wednesday in Kyoto’s Gion district, which is normally crowded with tourists from home and abroad.

As tourists were often disrespectful toward the geiko and maiko in the alleyway, the Gion south district area council, made up of local residents, put up the signs.

The signboards were placed at the entrance of Kosode Koji, an about 100-meter-long alleyway known for its historic atmosphere. The signs, written in Japanese, English and Chinese, warn tourists to not enter the private alleyway, that photography is prohibited and that trespassers will be fined up to ¥10,000.

The Kosode Koji is managed by the council, which has previously allowed tourists to walk through. However, such problems as littering and people surrounding geiko and maiko have become more serious recently, according to the council.

“Gion is a place where residents live their lives,” said Isokazu Ota, a 61-year-old member of council. “When disrespectful tourists come in large numbers, we have no choice but to take action.”

Overtourism, which causes a variety of problems, is becoming more serious in many areas. According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, the number of foreign tourists to Japan recovered to an estimated 25.06 million in 2023, about 80% of the number in 2019.