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Japan gov't launches 1st survey on 'overtourism'

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wow, they need survey?

block public traffic and triple public transport... easy

kamakura for example... the bay road is an absolute joke every weekend with cars moving slower than pedestrians... , just block all private traffic, make it public transport only and problem solved..

employ a team or chinese, korean and english speakers to make actual proper signs of what is ok and not and make sure its deployed everywhere and no , no need for new mascots for that .

25 ( +27 / -2 )

When all the tourists go they'll want them back again. What's the disruption? All the money they're getting ?

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

Seriously? How about the huge amounts of Japanese that flock to the same areas at the same times of year? Are they included in the survey? It seems like a very Xenophobic survey to me.

11 ( +22 / -11 )

No matter what problems the survey uncovers I'm sure we can all agree that the solution that will be hit upon will be to put up more signs admonishing people to refrain from doing something.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Typical local bureaucratic approach...6 months to compile survey results , set up the infamous " expert panels" to have a few well paid lunch meetings and come up with recommendations. A dedicated group of Uni students could probably do the surveys and provide same level of results / recommendations in couple of weeks at a fraction of the expert oyaji panel costs.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

If only it could help... I can unfortunately see a huge difference in Japan between now and 7 years ago. Mountains of trash everywhere (I have seen pet bottles floating in Tetsumago no michi between sakura petals!!!), smelly toilets, bedbugs in hostels, old people in Kyoto buses standing, like sardines close to priority seats where youngsters from abroad, unconcerned, sit between suitcases bigger then themselves, screaming Chinese and Koreans pushing people out of the way to take another photo etc etc etc Where are times you could sit quietly admiring a temple garden in a popular location? I nearly completely changed my destinations: going far up north to small and isolated places in Tohoku, to Asuka instead of Nara and avoiding Tokyo altogether except from the airport. I miss my dearest Asakusa but don't dare to stay overnight anymore after last time when the whole hostel (new and immaculately clean otherwise) was invaded by bedbugs. It is only possible to enjoy the place late at night or at dawn so without sleeping there it's impossible, I gave it up... Still going to Kyoto and Kamakura though, love them too much to stop, but visiting only the smallest and most secluded temples and only sometimes venturing somewhere else early in the morning... I mostly travel in the winter or in summer now, haven't seen sakura for some years... What's the point in the middle of trash and screaming crowds? There are many places which I used to love in Japan where I am simply not going any more as it became impossible. My favourite "sport" in Japan now is trying to find a place without tourists, just local people. It is such a relief! It sounds racist but I became like that when travelling and also having them coming by hundred of buses in the UK, blocking the streets and shops...I met some very nice people, usually individual tourists but when they come in groups, especially Chinese... Of course it's better than terrorists throwing bombs...In Europe we have a huge problem with mass-tourism and environment degrading, people in Venice are sick and tired, there are 500 tourists for 1 inhabitant there, in many other cities the whole buildings are sold to rich people and rented to the tourists, local tenants expulsed.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

amid a surge in foreign visitors to the country

There may very well have been a 'surge' of foreign visitors, but the number of Japanese tourists in almost all places in Japan outnumbers foreign visitors considerably.

This isn't a problem about foreign visitors, it's a problem with how and when Japanese people decide to go traveling themselves. Here is one example:

My in-laws are both retired and reasonably well off. They have taken one trip this year - to Kyoto...in Golden Week (2 nights). There is absolutely no reason why they should be going in GW. So why did they go? Well, because they always have done.

I have students who are retired and do the same. It just boggles the mind.

I bet you that the reason why the 'surge of foreign visitors' is noticed (and therefore problematic) is because they are traveling outside of the normal holiday seasons for Japanese people.

15 ( +20 / -5 )

Absolutely ridiculous.

Name me one place where foreign tourist outnumber the amount of Japanese “tourists”?

cant have it both ways folks.

6 ( +14 / -8 )

Maybe it's time to get rid of the "tax-free" shopping for foreign visitors. Let them pay the same sales tax as us residents. If it slowed the growth, that might be all right.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Here's an idea, if you're going to promote more and more tourism, and push for even more in the years to come, and then make it a goal for even MORE, maybe do this kind of survey BEFORE you do! Japan can't have its cake and eat it, too. They want more tourism, they've gotten it. You can't ask for people to come and spend their money here, then tell them how and where to do it because the local people, who live off it (to an extent, anyway), are suddenly complaining.

"Besides complaints related to lodgings, nuisances reported by municipalities include illegal parking in vacant lots in the World Heritage site of the village of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture and trespassing into fields near a major natural beauty spot in the town of Biei in Hokkaido."

Well, you want to deal with illegal parking, start with the locals -- I just got bumped into by a car that couldn't see me crossing because it went around a guy with his hazards flashing, parked illegally to wait for someone from the train station (at least, that's what I assume). The three cars illegally parked behind him were either playing Pokemon Go or else just tapping on their phones for another reason (maybe while waiting for someone). Police would put the nation in the black in one day if they bothered to suddenly worry about nuisance complaints. At least these foreign tourists -- and I would LOVE to see the residents prove that all illegally parked cars were driven in by foreigners -- are parking in vacant lots for Pete's sake.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

Shinjuku, my neighborhood, is now the biggest tourist draw in Tokyo. My favorite coffee shops and restaurants are jammed with tourists, and the lines! Please come and include Shinjuku in your study.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Kamakura, how obvious is that?!?. Hello, the road running from the beach to the Buddha statue should be a pedestrian mall. Instead, it's a traffic-choked vehicle thoroughfare, including huge industrial trucks, with hundreds of pedestrians shuffling along a narrow, half-baked sidewalk.

By the way, about 90% of the tourists last time I was there were Japanese. The congestion this isn't a foreigner issue.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Direct all the foreigners to the Shibuya scramble intersection. There's plenty of room for more visitors, and except for Halloween, no one even notices the congestion.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hopefully the survey will highlight nationwide problems which aren't all directly connected to mass tourism: urban planning, commuting in already densely populated areas, ageing population means more ppl are likely to commute/shop/travel at any given time etc.

Dividing Japan's school districts into zones with different holiday periods would be a start and would help spread out holiday traffic/crowds especially in touristy areas.

As an aside, I don't think the survey is targeting/pointing the finger at 'foreign' tourists.

The survey's goal is to learn more about the degree of public congestion, breaches of local rules, environmental degradation and other issues that may occur due to the high number of tourists.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Easy to sneer.

You were all tourists once.

Bring on congestion charges, taxes - whatever eases this non-problem.

Or stop promoting Japan abroad if it's such a bane.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan is originally a small country. It is not like tourists visiting Texas or other sightseeing places in America. The popular spots are easily overcrowded in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Looks like Japan is priming the pump to get rid of sales tax free for foreign visitors. Good sign. That program needs to end, especially before the Olympics.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

For foreign tourists, why not start holding alternative events during peak foreigner season? It's not like the JP govt doesn't know/have access to the information. (eg. Expect Americans in the summer)

For Japanese tourists...Oh, I dunno... could start with allowing staggered vacation time as opposed to fixed Golden Week and/or Obon.

Oh, and get rid of the "lucky" Mondays. I'm going on a trip this month on the 28-29th for 1/3 the price it would have cost to do the exact same thing on the 7/8th. My wife got all kinds of crazy over it... "Can't take the kids out of school on a Monday!?? What are you thinking???" Me "To save $500 bucks? Absolutely we can."

Simply allowing..no.. encouraging the Japanese side of things to take vacations whenever they wanted would alleviate a lot. My wife just getting those 2 days caused all kinds of hemming and hawing at the department store she works.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Name me one place where foreign tourist outnumber the amount of Japanese “tourists”?

There will be a few, but not necessarily what might first spring to mind. My guess would be the "snow monkeys" at Shiga Kogen in Nagano. It's just some monkeys sitting in a concrete pool of onsen water with some bloke feeding them so they keep coming back. They are cute, and have been on lots of foreign travel shows and in the movie "Baraka", so its easy to funnel foreign tourists there, especially during ski season. Some skiers will go there but not to Zenkoji or Matsumoto Castle, which strikes me as a waste.

I think surveys like this can be helpful, but hope it is not full of loaded questions like "have you seen more gomi?" Ideally it would be a blank piece of paper.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Okinawa has seen a surge in tourists, both foreign and domestic and it will continue to grow as the new runway at Naha AP is due to open in April of 2020. We get more tourists here in Okinawa than Hawaii, and they are causing all sorts of problems, for both businesses and the people living here.

Common sense and manners are out the door with may of ALL of the tourists, sometimes the foreign one's are politer than the domestic one's too!

Dont just point fingers at the foreigners coming here, as the Japanese who come here are just as bad!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Looks like Japan is suffering from split personality when it comes to tourism from abroad, they want the money but not the people!

Overtourism is a problem across the world, there are solutions but it requires joined up thinking as there are no simple solutions but a wide range of measures that need to be implemented in a cohesive fashion to achieve the required result.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yeah, I have to question Kyodo's slant on this article. It's not specifically stated anywhere that the survey will focus only on foreign tourists, but the repeated editorial references to the increasing number of foreign tourists certainly make it sound like that will be the case.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Tour destinations if accessible and of popularity or interest get both domestic and foreign tourists.

The logistics are extremely difficult to predict and coordinate as well as to prepare and operate.

Hawaii which is a popular destination gets visitors from all over the world receiving tourists as well as business visitors, as refugees, migrants and legal and illegal immigrants. To top things off, because Hawaii has very liberal social welfare programs, other cities literally "send" their undesired homeless to Hawaii giving them one way air fare tickets. Making matters worse, investors from world over literally buy up the limited island real estate at inflated prices making it almost impossible for locals to own property. So there is a large local homeless population now adding to the migrated homeless.

That is an extreme situation, especially for a well known world destination. That is a place known as the Paradise of the Pacific. The State and the City along with the community are facing an extremely precarious situation today. Honolulu has added a Hotel tax, but even that was not enough to fund all of the infrastructure to accommodate the increase in costs.

Planning ahead for both the positive as well as the negative effect of increased visitors logistically as well as infrastructure and social impact besides economic impact is important. For Japan, it must start from the national government level as it is a compact but densely populated and interrelated, interconnected island nation.

This is a very important start in coordination, especially with the Olympics coming soon. Unprepared and sudden impact of increased foreign population in an already crowded country can be a major problem all around.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In true fashion my country once again makes it “me vs them”.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Agree , Littering , and noises are the main problems of tourism in Japan .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Yubaru, your comment just put me off visiting Okinawa, in January/February. As a lone (senior) traveler who has been in Japan ten times in the past ten years - every time for 6-8 weeks, and accustomed to, and very respectful of Japanese culture (I have Japanese friends in many of the cities and towns I've visited), I've seen hordes of Japanese, Korean and Chinese tourists crowding the most popular places. But, I've also enjoyed the serenity of too many places to count, when I've visited during what I call the off-season (no Golden Week or Obon for me). The only 'busy' event on my bucket list is Sapporo's Snow Festival, and I think they'd welcome me there, in February, so soon after that devastating earthquake, just like they did in Minimisanriku, Matsushima Bay and other tsunami-hit towns, in 2012.

As some commenters have said, Japan wants more tourists, and there are ways to solve the overcrowding. Just don't look the gift horse in the mouth.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Do the hustleToday  04:13 pm JST

Seriously? How about the huge amounts of Japanese that flock to the same areas at the same times of year? Are they included in the survey? It seems like a very Xenophobic survey to me.

Yup I was waiting for that comment, foreign people forever the victim, can never admit that they're wrong. Im sure many western countries have launched over tourism surveys. There was nothing wrong when they did it though? When its Japan, its 'outrageous'.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Venice, Barcelona, Machu Pichu, Kyoto, etc this is a worldwide problem. Greater exposure via internet, and the ever-increasing World Heritage listings compound the problem. I reckon a hotel visitor tax is a reasonable approach. It is location-specific, does not discriminate between local tourists and foreign tourists, and can help address the extra street-cleaning, policing and environmental impacts of over-tourism. Some cities have a combined travel-card and museum pass, again adding a surcharge to these cards would focus the impact on the visitor rather than the local people.

I'm pretty sure ¥500/¥1000 per person per night hotel surcharge would go a long way to solving Kyoto's problems without killing the tourist trade.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@Kaede2017: I am so glad you spoke about Europe, and Venice in particular. Sometimes some foreign people complain about how dirty Countries like Italy, France, Spain, etc. are. It's easy to forget that in these Countries, there have been HUGE tourist flows for decades, it's not only the locals who dirty the environment. When you have at least 50/60 millions of foreign tourists every year, only in that moment you can understand what massive tourism means for the environment. For example, despite in Venice there are VERY STRICT laws who everyone must respect, the foreign tourists are often the ones who do the craziest and idiotic things like diving off the Rialto Bridge into the Grand Canal, eating where you can't absolutely eat, and writing their names or other things on the monuments as a "memory" of their trip. It's easier to keep your Country clean when you haven't massive tourism.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

perhaps if the tourists could speak (more) japanese, there would be less hatred towards tourists? that is too much to ask for though.

you can't have the cake and eat it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I wish the U.S. would do that with Hawaii. Paradise has turned into Los Angeles and New York together!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

All you folk mumbling on about ending sales tax. You do know that YOU get the same deal If YOU decide to go abroad to the UK for example?

Still wanna end it?

They are spending MONEY!!

Just be happy that they are doing it here.

And let’s be clear (*sigh.. again)

japanese tourists in Japan significantly outnumber the overseas guests.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“ageing population means more ppl are likely to commute/shop/travel at any given time”

No, just the opposite. It has been widely reported that the ageing population is a serious problem for the commuter railroads. Elderly and retired people travel much less frequently than do younger employed people and those commuting to schools and universities.

Looks like Japan is suffering from split personality when it comes to tourism from abroad, they want the money but not the people!

“Japan” does not and should not have a “personality.” As in any country, there are divergent interest groups who want different things and because Japan has a relatively free news media you will naturally hear some people saying one thing and other people saying something else.

I would also note that “overtourism” and resistance to it has become a hot button issue in a number of countries. Don’t take my word for this. Search on “overtourism” for yourself.

I spend part of the year in London and Oxford. Even before the increase in Chinese tourists, both cities were well supplied with obnoxious toursists from European countries. To be sure they bring in money, but only a small number of businesses profit from the tourists.

For poor countries, spending by tourists may well bring in much needed income, but Oxford and Cambridge are, as is the case for Tokyo and Kyoto, wealthy, world class cities and as a result tourists are more of a bother than a benefit.

Boosting the number of tourists to Japan has become a mantra for certain bureaucrats and politicians in Japan, not because Japan needs the toursit spending, but as a matter of “pride.” Ultimately, it’s a pissing contest. France gets N million tourists. Japan looks bad. We have to get N+M million tourists. I’ve actually seen government tourist promotion efforts phrased just this way.

Same for World Heritage Sites. Country X has N World Heritage Sites. Japan cannot be left behind. We have to have N+M World Heritage Sites.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If ads at already out for tourism and they want to cut back tourism, how does one do an anti-tourist ad?

"This is Japan. See this great scenery? See these lovely temples? Good. No need to come."

Also, Japan (or prefecture) could implement a tourist tax of ¥20,000 to pay for cleanup

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Apparently, the Japanese government would prefer all the foreign visitors to hit the department stores or go to the drug stores and fill their suitcases. Wandering through the parks and visiting castles doesn’t fill the coffers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is nicely timed after that "Anti Immigrant Day" article.

I think HollisBrown hit on a big point. Foreign people vacation outside of the Japanese holiday season. That won't change unless the Japanese holiday season changes ( I know, I chuckled while writing that too).

Some of my local friends have nearly given up on travelling altogether just to not deal with the crowds. So I ask them, why not just go to different places that aren't so crowded? And they always look at me kinda funny and say they don't know about other places because they're not advertised.

So why doesn't Japan promote more places to travel? At least advertise in within Japan for the locals.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Stop this madness of all Japanese taking their holidays at once, don't promote areas with no infrastructure. Japan spends so much on roads with bottle necks. No sidewalks, no trash cans then complain about rubbish. Noise comes down to poorly built dwellings with no insulation. Sometimes it's best to not survey and soldier on, the truth can be unbearable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I’ve lived in Tokyo for 13 years but never vacation domestically. Aside from the crowds, the prices are an exorbitant ripoff.

I spend my vacations in Southeast Asia. Much cheaper than traveling within Japan.

Just last month I was in Indonesia. Round trip airfare was 25,000JPY/ person and a descent hotel over there is about 2,500JPY/ night. 4 star restaurant, 10 course meal plus drinks for me and my wife was not even 13,000JPY.

I have enough places to explore in and around Tokyo alone, I don’t need to waste my hard earned money traveling to Kyoto or Nara.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To address the problem of litter why not put more bins out? You see the odd bin near a vending machine or outside a convenience store, but there are no street bins. People are forced to carry their litter around with them until they get home/back to their hotel.

Parking... how many tourists hire cars in Japan? If I were to hire a car I would need an international driving licence... how many tourists to Japan have one?

I've been going to Japan for my holidays since 2006 and always in May or November, outside of the main tourist seasons... Japan is relatively quiet at those times (except for Golden Week in May)... but even so, when I go to popular spots I see 99% Japanese people... very few non-Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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