As the Tokyo 2020 Games steadily approaches, Japan expects a great number of foreigners to come starting from this year.
However, together with foreigners also comes the Japanese citizens’ dissatisfaction created by the big number of tourists that is increasing by year.
In a Japanese TV Show called ZawaTsuku(ザワつく), the Japanese brought into attention some things they’d want foreigners to stop doing when coming to Japan because it’s bothering them and also brings a negative image to foreigners and has a bad influence towards those that are working in Japan as the Japanese people might start stereotyping every foreigner and think that many are rude and don’t watch their manners.
So, here are a few things Japanese hate about foreigner tourists and wish them to stop doing it:
There is a train station that attracts many foreign tourists by the railroad in the vicinity of Enoshima. 7 stops by Enoshima Railway(江ノ島電鉄) also known as Enoden, between Fujisawa and Kamakura you can find the Kamakura-koko-mae railroad crossing and lots of foreign people trying to recreate the famous scene from one of the most famous anime and Japanese manga series serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump.
The Kamakura high school was the model for Ryonan High School in the Slam Dunk series and many tourists are trying to recreate the scene where the main character,Hanamichi Sakuragi is standing in front of the railway waiting for the train to pass.
The manga translated in over 12 languages(including English, Chinese, Spanish etc.) was serialized in 1990s and is centered around basketball. It has gained lots of popularity especially in Asia and people from around the world come to Japan for anime pilgrimage, some even wearing the red uniform that represents the team color of the hero, just to take that one shot at the railroad crossing.
However, locals would say it’s a 迷惑(meiwaku) that means inconvenience for them as many people gather at the railroad while cars are passing by, interrupting the traffic.
— 米丸 きょうすけ (@yonemarru) November 6, 2018
Not only they are causing inconvenience for everyone, but it is also dangerous as many tourists even jumped out on the roadway when cars were moving.
There are many people that are passionate about manga, anime, but causing inconvenience for other people and putting yourself and others in danger is not the way you should go for it.
— 【公式】Kyotopi[キョウトピ] (@Kyotopi_jp) February 15, 2019
Kyoto, a place full of history and tradition, the serene landscape together with the maiko(apprentice geisha) create the 和 in Japan.
— 【公式】リビンドル 最安値ショップ (@ribindoru) December 13, 2018
Full of numerous tourists from all over the world, Kyoto has become a very crowded area and people are dissatisfied and angry at the bad mannered foreigners that leave their garbage all over the place and disturb the harmony of the city.
Worse is that what people call “Maiko paparazzi”(舞妓パパラッチ) are increasing and many foreigners steal after the geisha’s performances, take their pictures without asking, even stalk the poor women back to their home.
— ニュースサイトしらべぇ【公式】 (@sirabee_news) February 16, 2019
Some would pretend to take selfies and walk next to the geishas but instead would take a picture or even video of the maiko or some would block the traffic gathering around the maiko to take pictures or videos.
The maiko are frightened and disgusted with the tourists’ bad behavior and wish them to stop as regardless of the country you are coming to visit, taking pictures without permission and stalking people is not right!
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I believe that many of you must be familiar with Shirakawa-go and the light-up events occurring yearly. The UNESCO World Heritage site is visited annually by a large number of tourists and has tremendously grew in popularity in the past years so much that now tourists need to make reservations in order to visit the beautiful village.
The traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses covered by snow can withstand large amounts of heavy snow and along the winter illuminations offer us an utopian winter landscape.
However, as I mentioned, great waves of tourists come to visit it yearly and kind of ruin the idyllic atmosphere of the place by throwing trash all over the place, not behaving properly or showing off bad manners.
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There are people living in the area and in the farmhouses and that makes it their property.
However, foreigners enter as they please or simply open the doors of the houses to take a picture inside and I believe that is not appropriate, as is a private property.
There are signs for places to visit and before entering a house, make sure it is ok for you to do that.
You can see more about the Shirakawa-go and the new reservation system in the article below:
Unfortunately, because of some people that enter private properties, take pictures without asking, throw garbage all over the place, persistently asking to take pictures with people that seem a bit unusual from their countries (such as girls dressed up in Lolita fashion), don’t keep the toilets clean, don’t ask before taking action and are ill-mannered, many foreigners might be perceived the wrong way, some of the Japanese people might even think that all of us are like that leading to misunderstanding and a bad experience for both sides.
I am not a Japanese citizen myself, but I do live in Japan and I am only stating what has been discussed in the media since the numbers of tourists are increasing and hopefully, that would make people aware that stalking geishas is not ok.
As tourists have an image of Geishas, anime, shrines and temples, I think some automatically think that it shouldn’t be a problem if you sneak out a photo without asking, however is always better to ask beforehand instead of following people wherever they go, hugging them or taking their pictures without asking and uploading it online.
Same with Enoshima … places in anime are sometimes inspired by cities in Japan and some tourist happened to find the railroad that looks exactly like the one in Slam Dunk, uploaded it online and now is causing traffic jam, accidents and locals can’t properly circulate because of that.
In Japan, if something happens, all the fault goes on the driver, so for everyone’s safety including yours, is better to not run when people are driving by or when the train is coming, stop in the middle of the street just to take a photo.
Many Japanese are understanding, but imagine people getting into your house or garden or suddenly starting to take pictures of you. It will freak anyone out, right?
The Japanese Government is trying to do something about the matter, such as Shirakawa-go’s case with reservations, but even if there are signs, if people don’t respect it, what else is there to do?
If you came to Japan because you love the country and culture, then I believe you should also respect it.
Of course, there are only a few people from the many tourists that do such things and the majority of the visitors are usually very well-mannered and that is something Japanese see and appreciate, too.
I’ve seen a foreigner man teaching his kids that in Japan, people walk on right side of the escalator so they should’t stand there or they should properly wait in line, but again I have seen others that would let their kids play with clothes (they wouldn’t even buy) and kick the hats from a store in the shopping mall, that others may be buying lately and the parents would simply laugh at them, gesture that would encourage the children to do the same in other occasions , too.
Many Japanese people are very willing to help foreigners and enjoy people visiting their countries and learning about their culture, but there are also those that don’t respect that culture, sometimes even committing illegal acts such stalking and many others mentioned above. Some might do that unconsciously, for some it might be intended, so if you see such people, it might be a good idea to try explaining them is not fine to do such things. They might’ve not even realised it and would be grateful that someone brought it up.
With the 2020 Tokyo games approaching, the tourists will increase and I feel that we should also try to be more organised, try to inform ourselves about manners in Japan, culture and language, work together to keep the environment clean, respect each other and mind our manners.
Regardless of the country, a clean environment and good manners are always welcomed.
By doing so, I’m sure you will have the greatest time visiting Japan and locals will also improve their opinion towards the foreigner tourists coming to visit Japan and welcome us with open arms.