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Kamakura passes ordinance against eating on the go

51 Comments
By Ben K, grape Japan

Famous for its dozens of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, including Kotoku-in with its Great Buddha statue, as well as its cozy cafes and charming shopping district, the seaside resort town of Kamakura, in Kanagawa Prefecture, is one of the most popular day-trip destinations for tourists in the Tokyo area, with over 20 million tourists visiting every year.

Kamakura_kotokuin_02-e1553481070738.jpg
Image: (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

New ordinance aims to improve manners

After a busy day of exploring all the historical sights of Kamakura, many visitors end up in Komachi Street, the most popular and crowded shopping street in central Kamakura, filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, and all manner of stalls and shops selling delicious treats.

On any given day, Komachi street is filled with tourists walking along as they enjoy sweets such as crepes and ice cream, traditional Japanese sweets and crackers, dumplings coated in syrup or sweet fritters, and savory items like croquettes, skewered treats featuring local seafood, and more. Some tour guides and tourism sites mention Komachi Street as a recommended place for enjoying tabe-aruki 食べ歩き (literally "eating while walking").

While many tourists consider eating on the go to be one of the enjoyable charms of Komachi Street, it would seem that the practice is not appreciated by all the residents of Kamakura.

According to a Kyodo News report on March 22nd (updated March 23rd), Kamakura City had been receiving a growing number of complaints from residents about "getting their clothes stained with ice cream or dumpling syrup when brushing past tourists." Therefore, on March 22nd, presumably in reaction to this and other complaints it had received, the city council passed an ordinance seeking an improvement of manners which includes "showing self-restraint when it comes to eating-on-the-go in places that are crowded with tourists." The provision is highly unusual for an official ordinance and has few, if any precedents in the 47 prefectures of Japan.

According to the report, the greatest number of complaints came from Komachi Street and the street leading from the Great Buddha in Kotoku-in to Hase Station on the scenic Enoshima Elecric Railway. In addition to clothes getting dirty, there were also numerous complaints about litter in the streets.

The ordinance, intended to encourage an improvement in manners, neither stipulates any fines nor imposes any sales restrictions on shops and stalls.

In addition to eating on the go, the ordinance also covers topics such as unsafe photo shooting (in the middle of the street or on railroad tracks), and cutting off bamboo stalks or other plants as souvenirs.

The reactions to the ordinance on social media were mixed. Here are few of the opinions representing the main views for and against the ordinance:

For

Most of the opinions in support of the ordinance were based on good manners, avoiding the smell of food and other nuisances.

"About that 'ordinance against eating on the go' passed by Kamakura City. It's not limited to tabe-aruki. I just want everyone to consider other people's feelings so that we can all enjoy our lives. There are many cultures and ways of thinking but I hope people will keep it in mind when they're in public spaces, not only in Kamakura."

"They passed an ordinance against eating on the go in Kamakura. Tabe-aruki? I don't do that. It's the difference between those who've been taught good manners and those who haven't. It doesn't bother me in the least. It's just common sense. What if they trip and fall when they're eating something on a skewer and stab themselves with it? Don't they think about such things?"

"Recently on Komachi Street, it's tabe-aruki at all costs... with all those shops popping up. But I can't eat while I'm walking in that crowd. The smell of food is everywhere you go these days, and I don't like it..."

In addition to keeping your clothes free of stains and the streets free of litter, there's another reason to avoid tabe-aruki: All of that food on the go is very tempting to crows and black kites (a bird of prey common in Japan) who have been known to swoop in and steal food from tourists, sometimes injuring their hands with their sharp talons.

"If I tried eating on the go in Kamakura, I'd be attacked by black kites, so I could never do it. I've been attacked before They stole my donut. I wasn't hurt."

Against (or mixed)

At the same time, there were also negative feelings towards an ordinance which would not only remove one of the purported charms of Komachi Street, but also threaten the livelihood of its shop owners and the tourism revenue of the city.

[About the] 'ordinance against eating on the go in Kamakura'. I'm going to miss it."

"An ordinance prohibiting eating on the go in Kamakura?! I can understand why they did it but that takes away half of the fun... Also, sales are going to seriously drop. Come on [Kamakura City], put some more thought into the way you're doing it..."

"Although it's a wonderful goal, I'm worried that tourism will decrease!"

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© grape Japan

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

51 Comments
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a growing number of complaints from residents about "getting their clothes stained with ice cream or dumpling syrup when brushing past tourists

Easy solution : stop rubbing up against tourists like a cat!

8 ( +16 / -8 )

only applicable on odd number days or Tuesdays

5 ( +5 / -0 )

More pearl clutching passive aggression, or is it omotenashi? Kamakura is nearly as snooty as Kyoto. I bet you if the buses full of foreign barbarians opted to stop coming you'd toss this ordinance in an instant.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

Asakusa have something similar, I think street food won't become street food without this.

Tough to balance but if you're living there but don't like such culture you should really consider moving cause you'll get a good price and no longer have to live in a crowded area.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Kamakura, in Kanagawa Prefecture, is one of the most popular day-trip destinations for tourists in the Tokyo area, with over 20 million tourists visiting every year.

Disappointed! Kamakura used to be on the top of my list of spots I wanted to visit. I think i will scrap it.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Kamakura is a popular tourist spot, and the local businesses rely on tourist traffic to maintain their businesses. Local residents are benefitting from the tourist revenue supporting their city. They can't have their cake and eat it to. If you don't like the inconveniences caused by tourists, then move, or stay away from the strip where tourists go.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Silliness

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Part and parcel of living in a tourist area really..just take care when walking and get the city to install more rubbish bins (I noticed the lack of both here and in Kyoto) then it should all be good.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I am sure that I've seen on Youtube, one of the top ten does and don't in Japan, and one of them was not to "eating while walking" as the Japanese find it offensive! one of the ways to get around this "eating while walking" is probably to reduce the amount of street vendors and tell them that they have to provide a small seating area, or the town council should provide a seated covered area where people are requested to sit and eat with numerous polite signs asking people not to "eating while walking" ref rubbish: provide waste bins, empty the waste bins daily so vermin dont increase, as for standing on a rail track taking photos, well that natural selection I am afraid, you can't account for stupidity.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Once again well mannered Japanese loose another enjoyable moment to tourists.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

The article mentions 20million visits. I wonder how many "complaints" they had? Even 100 would only equal .0005%. Another example of making a rule for the exception. So, will the local gov. then require the food stalls to make a space for people to eat? Usually there is no alternative to eating and walking (or walking to find a space for eating) in these tourist focused food stall locations.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Un-be-lievable. Only in Japan...

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Un-be-lievable. Only in Japan...

Not really. Florence already fines people €500 for eating on the sidewalks or in the streets.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Where’s the Keitai miboke aruki ordinance ?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Is it back to the bubble?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Try and stop me from walking and eating.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

How about an ordinance against smartphone on the go

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Garbage bins and a place to sit. Shut up about the smells... Stop teaching the younger generation to be obsessive compulsive robots and relax a bit. I remember Kamakura in the days of sewer smells. Would you rather go back to the good Ole days?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Look, I'm appalled that my tax dollars are being wasted for such idiocy, when the bigger problem in Japan is mental health. And it remains unchecked because we're so concerned about how tourists enjoy their vacation. So, I'm just gonna have to lay it all out.

a growing number of complaints from residents about "getting their clothes stained with ice cream or dumpling syrup when brushing past tourists

Easy solution : stop rubbing up against tourists like a cat!

Absolutely! Real manners would be respecting the personal space of those around you, paying more attention to where you walking than your phone, and having enough courtesy to say excuse me when you need to pass someone blocking your path, instead of "brushing" (they left out 'aggressively') past tourists. By the way, why are we only brushing pasts tourists, anyway? Trying to get your foriegn feel on? Locals just don't feel the same when brushed, what? I bet those tourists also have their own complaints about Japanese citizens slamming into them and ruining their food and clothes...

I've lived here for more than 10 years, and I've never seen foreigners litter the way locals do. You can just rule that bs out immediately.

To the whiners in Kamakura: Your raking water uphill. First, accidents are a byproduct of being human, you can't avoid them all. Second, if you actually use your own manner system and say excuse me, foreigners will politely smile, say sorry and move out of your way promptly. Thirdly, your a grown up. For your own mental health, stop crying about things you can't control and focus on things you can. If you know there's too many foreigners on 'that one road' and you don't like it, take another. This is Japan, there's more roads in a single city than tunnels in an ant hill. If you cant find one, you have a bigger problem. Lastly, the rest of the planet already knows that Japan's neverending list of obnoxious rules and policies are atrocious. Plus, almost no foreigners will even known, nor care about this new policy, because it sounds like a joke. So, unless your going to start handing out the Kamakura's Street Policies pamphlet at the airport, things will still be the same tomorrow.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Disappointed! Kamakura used to be on the top of my list of spots I wanted to visit. I think i will scrap it.

Are you incapable of eating without walking or something?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Try and stop me from walking and eating.

Hard to stop ill-mannered people by definition - it's what they are.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I've noticed that some Japanese have the bad habit of rubbing against people when they pass by. I'll be looking at something in a shop and a Japsnese person will inevitably brush against my back as they pass by me, even if there is a meter or two of space behind me. I see Japanese do it to other people, especially in book shops.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Sounds like a good ordinance . . . rodents come for the crumbs.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What's my obese American body going to do when walking?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

"Although it's a wonderful goal, I'm worried that tourism will decrease!"

Let's hope it does. If the shops are too cowardly to speak up against such an ordinance, let them suffer. Then when people complain about the drop in tourism and perhaps their ranking and that visitors think less highly of the area, then they'll VERY quickly reverse what is clearly just the work of cantankerous elderly people. What happened to "omotenasu"? I guarantee every one of the people who complain engage in bad habits that offends others and is "common sense" not to do.

Besides, what are they going to do about it if you buy something to eat and walk while eating anyway? NOTHING. Same as they won't point to the "No Smoking" sign for the people smoking under it.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

How about not brushing up against people? If you get someones food on your clothes, chances are you've ruined thier meal and they're just as pissed about it as you are.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Eat at home and don’t go to Kamakura. You won’t annoy the residents living in the tourist areas, and you won’t get a fine. You can probably buy Kamarura style Omiyage somewhere else and can catch up on what you missed out on by watching another tourist’s YouTube video of Kamakura!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Eat at home and don’t go to Kamakura. You won’t annoy the residents living in the tourist areas, and you won’t get a fine. 

The article clearly states there is no fine:

The ordinance, intended to encourage an improvement in manners, neither stipulates any fines nor imposes any sales restrictions on shops and stalls.

...therefore making it a complete waste of time & taxpayer money. Now we'll see locals harassing tourists to follow the ordinance no one outside of the locals has any idea exists. Perfect!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Lol complaints...you’ll cry when the moneys gone.

The vendors have all just lost their livelihoods, and your city will be poorer.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Having seen the manners of Japanese tourists overseas, I don't really think that anyone in Japan should be complaining, about foreign tourists manners.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Good news. Too bad it takes this to correct unruly tourists.

Some people claim that it's ok to eat and walk around in Japan. Obviously that's not true.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Wait until all the tourists squat Slav style and block the road while they eat.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

But eating while walking is totally fine at a summertime matsuri. I see.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Wow, I was going to go down there during GW. If they are going to be like that, I’ll go somewhere else like Takayama where you can enjoy their snacks anywhere.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is Japan a Japanese country or Tourist country?

In your house, when you notice that your friends or relatives litter around whether they realize or not, Would u stay keep quiet and keep listening to the conversation Or tell them to do it in proper way?

What's with these people bashing on Japanese when tourist not behaving on their land?

When in Rome, Do as Romans Do.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

People are so funny. I’d rather look at a stand of redwood trees along a mountain stream than a giant buda statue. Complaining about clothes getting “dusted” is just too funny.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't like Kamakura nor its snotty residents.

A local jewelry maker set up a display outside on a PUBLIC sidewalk. My wife was about to take a photo, when he ran at her and shouted "no photos!!". The crowding is insufferable, largely because the roads are clogged with big industrial vehicles and the narrow sidewalks are a second thought. No wonder strangers have to rub up against each other and smear each other with food. Yeah, that's fun.

The beach is literally black. Ugh. And the Daibutsu is surrounded in lovely concrete. No thanks.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

i don't see the issue here, i have been to kamakura a while back and wasn't allowed to eat on street, there

were some sitting area in front of the store and tourist sat and ate there. japanese culture is not eating while

you walking on street except ice cream, and hardly any trash bins on street which i admired the most that

you don't dump as much and polluted the environment. Seriously some japanese even have a pocket

holder to put their cigarette butt to bring home to dispose. i admired that also instead people throwing

it on the street. tourists just need to behave when visit other country and respect their culture.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't like Kamakura nor its snotty residents.

Can you imagine living there though? A massive influx of tourists pretty much 365 days a year, parking in their spot, causing crazy traffic.

Pretty little town though.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

i love kamakura and don't want any street to turn out overloaded with trash.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Strangerland

Can you imagine living there though? 

Yes, because I was raised in a town where tourism was the biggest industry. There was/is very little antagonism or attempts to lord over the visitors, who after all, have come from elsewhere to spend their money on our economy.

My hometown also created pleasant and generous pedestrian areas, including benches and picnic tables for eating al fresco -- something the esteemed denizens of Kamakura can't be bothered to do.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I wish JR would ban eating on the trains. Sometimes the smell from certain foods is more reminiscent of a compost heap than fine dining. Daikon tsukemono for one. Triggers a gag reflex.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kamakura City had been receiving a growing number of complaints from residents about "getting their clothes stained with ice cream or dumpling syrup when brushing past tourists."

I had NO idea ice cream can stain! And I am VERY sure this is from like less than 10 people who "complained" about this! Anything to create a problem out of nothing by controlling tourists!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Kamakura is making money from foreign tourists and now they want to regulate them???

Oh dear!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Here’s an idea, if you don’t want people eating on the street don’t sell food on the street. It’s just like how they sell alcohol in the convenient stores at train stations but when you drink a beer at a train people stare at you like you’re a leper. Also why did they sell cigarettes in the convenient stores stations? There’s always some random idiot smoking a cigarette in the station when you’re not supposed to be smoking a cigarette in the station.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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