The New Rules for Visiting Kyoto & Mt. Fuji

by SharonKurheg

Japan was one of the last countries to reopen after the Covid pandemic, in October, 2022. You may recall that people were in the midst of a travel frenzy of sorts, and, most likely because they had been denied the ability to visit the nation for so long, suddenly, EVERYONE was going, or wanted to go to Japan.

Japan’s response to tourism is like that of many tourist towns – they like the money tourism gives them, but the crowding, traffic, litter, bad behavior and other social aspects of having so many strangers in the place where you live can…well, it can definitely make you weary (we live near Walt Disney World; we know this as a fact).


a group of people standing on a street with buildings and a tall tower

PC: Rawpixel / Public Domain

Kyoto has always been popular with visitors. Joe and I spent several days in Kyoto in 2005. We did, among other things, visits to the Philosopher’s Path, Imperial Palace and Nijo Castle, as well as a walking tour with Johnnie Hillwalker. It’s a lovely hisoric (albeit very hilly LOL) city.

However the residents of Kyoto kind of enjoyed their 2.5 years of pandemic-era quietness. Once all the visitors were back (Japan had nearly 2.8 million visitors in January 2024 alone), they and their government decided to make a change.

Starting this month, Kyoto will be banning tourists from select streets in its popular geisha district.

The restrictions to the area’s Gion neighborhood, where traditional geisha entertainers and their maiko (teenage apprentices) work, will begin this month. The area has always been a place where tourists try to catch a glimpse and sometimes take a picture of the performers, with their kimonos, white makeup and traditional hairstyles. Unfortunately, some overzealous tourists over the years have harassed the women for photos (even though there are signs saying not to take pictures of the performers without their saying it’s OK), and trespassed onto private property.

Local district official Isokazu Ota told the Associated Press last month, “We are going to put up signs in April that tell tourists to stay out of our private streets.”

The signs will say in Japanese and English: “This is a private road, so you are not allowed to pass through here.”

The signs will also remind visitors that there will be a fine of 10,000 yen (currently about $65) for not following the rule.

The travel ban will only be on specific private streets in the Gion neighborhood. Public streets will still be accessible.

Mt. Fuji

a snow covered mountain top with Mount Fuji in the backgroundMt. Fuji is also suffering from overtourism. Over 400,000 people climbed to the top of the stratovolcano that’s the highest in Japan. Climbing Mt. Fuji is only limited to 2 months per year (late summer), so that converts to close to 7,000 climbers per day. And that doesn’t even count the over 4 million who only hike to the lower elevations of the mountain.

The crowds have caused problems with traffic jams and litter, and local officials want to change the narrative.

Plans are not to ban tourists from the UNESCO World Heritage site. But officials are going to put a daily cap on the number of visitors to the mountain, as well as charge climbers to make the trek to the top of Mt. Fuji.

Beginning July 1, 2024, the daily number of visitors will be 4,000 and each climber will be charged 2,000 yen (currently about $13.07). The decreased numbers will help the issues with overcrowding, and the fee will be used to hire guides to enforce safety measures, like deterring ill-equipped hikers from wearing the wrong clothing or footwear, not allowing people to sleep on the side of the trail or build fires, and educating climbers about general mountain etiquette.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Willy April 11, 2024 - 10:54 pm

Japan has never been overrun with tourists, ever. The tourists they seek to control are their own people. Probably 99.95% of the people climbing Fuji are the locals.
(Commented edited by YMMV to remove multiple rude comments, as per commenting rules. If so many of the tourists are Japanese, it’s a good thing the signs will be in Japanese as well, isn’t it? And yes, we have been to Kamakura. Twice.)

big brother April 12, 2024 - 2:02 am

Editing people’s comments? Lol

SharonKurheg April 12, 2024 - 11:02 am

100% absolutely. We have something written at the end of each post. The first line of it is this:

Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.

Not our fault if they don’t read it and/or follow the requirements for their comments to not be edited – or sometimes posted at all.


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