Tourists, Akimahen! Please Follow Kyoto’s Etiquette Guidelines

  • HOW TO
  • One of the many downsides of Kyoto being one of the top tourist destinations in Japan is the exponential growth of travellers who do not follow etiquette guidelines. The city of Kyoto is no exception to the struggles of a typical Japanese to express his frustrations against travellers committing a cultural blunder.

    On July 2015, the tourism department of Kyoto released some infographic materials about Japanese etiquette. This etiquette guide forewarns tourists of the do’s and don’ts in Japanese culture which include “How to Use this Toilet” and the “Insider Guide to Kyoto Part II: AKIMAHEN (Don’ts) of Kyoto”.

    “AKIMAHEN of Kyoto”

    Akimahen literally means “do not” in the Kyoto dialect; and this word is the flagship banner of the infographic leaflets and stickers released by the Kyoto tourism department. So, what does the infographic look like?

    Above the word AKIMAHEN which is all in caps and in large text font are five surly-looking Kyotoites who are tagged as very particular with their demands on good etiquette practice. About 18 etiquette tips can be found in this infographic material with each impolite offense being rated with three different kinds of emoji–the highest and most offensive has three emoji of fiercely red angry faces. Elsewhere are some emoji that look mildly unhappy.

    What are the Most Serious Offenses?

    1. Cycling Under the Influence of Alcohol.

    The worst cultural offense that one could probably commit not only in Kyoto but in Japan as a whole is cycling while under the influence of alcohol. Anyone spotted committing this act would most likely end up in prison for five years or pay a fine of one million yen.

    2. Littering.

    Offenders may not end up in prison by littering, but they may have to prepare to get their pockets burned because they will have to incur a fine of 30,000 yen if they are caught in the act.

    3. Leaving Bicycles on the Road.

    Tourists leaving bicycles outside the designated parking zone will be charged with 2,300yen for its removal not to mention the additional charges that tourists have to pay when the bicycle is returned to the company.

    4. Smoking Outside Designated Areas.

    Anyone caught smoking beyond the designated smoking area will have to pay a fine of 1,000 yen.

    Additional Reminders to Tourists

    Some additional akimahen of Kyoto that tourists should take note are:

    1. Taking photographs are not allowed on the train tracks and other sacred parts of the shrine. Tourists should ask maikos (music performers and geiko apprentice) nicely when taking photographs, i.e. avoid grabbing their kimono sleeves to get their attention.
    2. Instead of tipping, visitors are encouraged to say ‘Okini’ (thank you in the Kyoto dialect) to the staff.
    3. Shoes should not be worn when stepping on the tatami floor mat.
    4. Avoid canceling reservations in restaurants at the last minute. Make sure to line up in an orderly manner when waiting for a reservation.

    Kyoto Akimahen

    Related article
    112 Things to Do in Kyoto, a City of Culture, Tradition, and Breathtaking Beauty, in 2018