It’s a mantra repeated by every traveler — no matter the destination: “I want to avoid the touristy spots.”
If that’s the case, then Japan is your dreamland. And yes, even Tokyo has plenty of spots to discover that tourists rarely set foot in — shout out to my current stomping grounds of Nerima. Yet how can that be when tourism is quite literally booming in Japan with over 24 million visitors in 2016?
Japan has seen a spike foreign travelers (especially to its cities) since about 2013, but this vast country, for the most part, is anything but touristy. Undisputedly, the country offers a lot to attract tourists, but I would argue it wholeheartedly fails at producing “touristy” places (besides the obvious formulas of theme parks like Disney) because it hasn’t exactly figured out how to cater to foreign tourists — both a blessing and a curse.
That’s simultaneously thanks and no thanks to the Japanese government, which — as an aside — continues to pass laws that seem like fake news but are 100 percent legit. A prime example? The fining of tattoo artists, who, according to a 2001 law, have to be qualified medical professionals. Want a traditional Japanese irezumi (tattoo)? See a doctor. Wait… what?
This type of “logic” also comes through in the government’s so-very misguided tourism efforts that often edge on parody.
Don’t get me wrong — there are recent bright spots. Even the spectacular Ehime Prefecture photo accompanying this article is from a website, Find 47, by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) with free, usable and utterly awesome photos.
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