Photo: Flickr/Adashino Nenbutsuーji

Kyoto starts new 'Empty' tourism campaign to attract tourists during coronavirus outbreak

By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto is one of the country’s best-preserved areas, boasting a whopping 17 UNESCO world heritage sites that draw thousands of tourists to its historic streets year after year.

In fact, there have been so many visitors to the city in recent years that the area has been struggling with issues related to overtourism. However, following the coronavirus outbreak last month, which prompted the Chinese government to place restrictions on outbound overseas group tours, the city is now facing a problem on the opposite end of the spectrum — a drop in tourists so dramatic that local shop owners say they haven’t seen anything like it in 30 years.

With Kyoto being one of the top destinations for Chinese tourists, who make up the largest contingent of foreign visitors to Japan, the restriction on travel is hitting businesses hard, and as the number of coronavirus cases in Japan continues to rise, a large number of locals and other international tourists are also avoiding travel, which is compounding the problem.

In order to tackle the issue, merchants around the Ukyo and Nishikyo wards in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district have begun a new advertising campaign to encourage tourists to visit the area. The slogan for the campaign is “Suitemasu Arashiyama“, which translates to “Empty Arashiyama“, and there are four images that have been produced for the promotion, each one showing a popular tourist spot in the area.

Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 8.51.35.png
Photo: @masakaszu1966

Accompanying each poster is a message, with the monkey poster (pictured top left) saying: “There haven’t been more monkeys than humans in a long time.” The image of the famous bamboo grove in Arashiyama (top right) comes with a series of hashtags that read: “#BambooGrove #Arashiyama #NoPeople #NowIsTheTime #Emotional”

The image of Arashiyama’s famous Togetsukyo Bridge (bottom left) looks bare without tourists, and comes with a line in Japanese that plays on the “sui” sound from the word “empty” used in the campaign. In English it reads poetically as: “Crossing easily…excuse me…”

The final poster in the series shows an image of the Hozugawa River Cruise, a sightseeing boat that takes visitors from Kameoka to Arashiyama and back again along the Hozugawa River. This one says, “If you come now, you can go down the river as many times as you like without waiting.”

Store owners want people to know that now is the time to come and experience everything the area has to offer, as visitors can “savour Arashiyama as it originally looked” before the tourist boom.

With 300 of these posters produced for the campaign, which will be put up along shopping streets in the Kyoto area, as well as in the nearby travel hub of Hankyu Osaka Umeda Station in Osaka, here’s hoping they prove to be successful in attracting visitors.

Sources: Kyoto Shimbun, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto “crying” as tourists vandalise trees

-- Online image collection’s views of Japan are beautiful to look at, free to use

-- Kyoto tourist crowds disappearing due to coronavirus outbreak, creating travel crisis/opportunity

© SoraNews24

©2023 GPlusMedia Inc.

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"Avoid crowds and non-essential gatherings."??????

2 ( +2 / -0 )


attract Chinese tourists

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sounds great. So merchants are doing good for tourism and economy.

We now need to ask craftsmen and peasants what they think of this idea.

Personally I live in the world of where monkeys lives, sometime forget what # means and wouldn't mind waiting for something good.

Kyoto being artistic city, I want to see more creativity going on on the theme of Empty. Rather than worrying about number of places you visits, try spending more time. Photos and selfies are still allowed but try to press the shutter less. Look around and for example instead of taking 15 pictures in an hour, try to aim for 12 in 2 hrs.

knock knock ton ton

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is a uniquely good time to be in Kyoto. Without huge crowds it is likely the safest city in Japan right now. Think of the crowds in Tokyo and Osaka and then think of "empty" Kyoto. Also it will be the first time in living memory that the merchants will be genuinely happy to see you.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

"a drop in tourists so dramatic that local shop owners say they haven’t seen anything like it in 30 years."

The early 90s was a great time to live in and visit Kyoto.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Really ???Kyoto is always good for kitte gokuraku, mitte jigoku. which means hearing is heavely and seeing is hell.Thefore they deserve this emptiness. Kyoto people wants everything to themselves, god answered thair wishes. Always bad-mouthing foreigners, now they got what they want. Who does these kyoto people want to blame now ???. They have ran out of excuses, taking people money and bad-mouthing people who pays???. is there anyone that stupid foreigners ???. Visit other regions, kyoto is just a over-sell myth.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Feeling that pinch, eh?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are a lot of negative comments about Kyoto people here. I have lived here for more than 10 years and visited for more than 40. The majority of people in Kyoto are not involved in the tourist industry, do not profit in any way by it and have to shoulder the consequences of over tourism every day of their lives. Our major has encouraged the rapid development of new hotels all over the city but particularly in the historic area near Pontocho. These hotels are basically empty but the small shops they destroyed to build them will never come back. Bad mouth the developers all you like, but please don't say idiotic things like "Kyoto people wants everything".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The End of Overtourism for Now

Tourism has been a perfect example of curse and blessing at Japan.  For cities that are accustomed to the economic feeds of tourist business, the void will definitely brings hardships.

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I thought Kyoto residents didn’t want tourist and foreigners in their town. I heard all their complaints in this very news paper. They were tired of seeing thousands and thousands tourist buying their items , dirtying their stores , garbage everywhere strange sounds Oh foreign language s , bad manners, chasing Geishas around, taking pictures, stupid You-tubers,

um, what changed. Oh let me see, man. It must be so quiet. Peaceful now. No one is coming into their store buying up all their inventory fighting to pay for it first.

Kyotoian get their wish. Very happy for them.

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