Japan Banning non-Japanese from popular tourist spots

March 6th, 2019

There’s no doubt about it. Tourism in Japan has certainly skyrocketed the past few years. Not only from neighbouring China, but also from western countries, particularly Australia. And unfortunately with high tourism numbers, comes a high chance of unruly behaviour.

Foreign visitors to Japan reached a record high of 30 million in 2018, and it will probably be more in 2019.

However locals in some tourist areas are becoming increasingly frustrated by the actions of foreign visitors. Many temples now display signs saying “No Foreigners” in a variety of languages.

I have to sympathise with the Japanese on this one. When I first ventured to Japan more than 25 years ago, the only foreigners there were the ones truly interested in the culture and way of life. Heck, we even had to have a one on one interview with the consulate staff and hand in a 2 page written summary of why we wanted to visit Japan. So you really had to want to visit. We were a tough breed back then. No internet – no Costco – and it was very hard to get anything from back home – so we had to eat what the Japanese ate, and do what the Japanese did. Most of us fit right in to the culture just like a local, and made many new friends in the process.

Fast forward 25 years, and now it is easier than ever to visit Japan. You can get a visa online in 5 mins, and airfares to Japan have never been cheaper. So it is inevitable that you’re going to get an influx of people into the country who have no idea about the culture and customs, and are basically there only to party and get as many temple selfies and ‘likes’ on Facebook as possible.

It is a sad reality. As a lifelong “Japanophile” I absolutely love the culture, and can honestly say that I sometimes blend in more than the locals do. I only wish those aforementioned ‘tourists’ visiting Japan would take more of an interest in the culture and learn the proper way to act in certain situations without being disrespectful. I know not every tourist behaves that way (kudos to you if you don’t!) but unfortunately it is becoming more prevalent.

I guess the same applies to our world of surfing. Sometimes you get those ‘kooks’ in the water that have no idea and you just wish they’d to get out of the way and leave. On the other hand you also have those surfers that are respectful, understand the locals, and try to blend in without stepping on anyone’s toes. Maybe the tourism industry needs more of these types of tourist surfers.

Categories: Culture, Opinion, Places, Tourism