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Tourists Are Causing Headaches In Japan

Majestic

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I think this problem will only get worse. The government wants something like 40 million tourists a year, which is going to strain Japan's infrastructure even more. I like Beat Takeshi, but I think its not a binary choice of culture vs. money.
 

Glenski

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“It’s a matter of do we pick money or do we pick culture,” Beat Takeshi said while hosting a show last year covering the tourism boom and issues that it has caused. According to Takeshi, he felt as though allowing lots of visitors will chip away at the culture. ....When I first moved to Osaka, I lived in the southern part of the city. I remember walking through rundown shopping arcades that were on their last leg. They had delicious food, but with a dwindling population, their time seemed over. But now if I visit those areas, they’re packed with tourists. So I wonder if tourism is chipping away at culture, like Beat Takeshi claims, or if it’s propping it up?

How is an influx of tourists shutting down or changing a country's culture? I don't get it. Besides, the population is in a decline, with the largest growing group being the senior citizens. That seems more likely to be a cause of losing one's culture (if the young ones don't maintain it, that is). Even so, culture is a fluid thing; it has a tendency to change over the years anyway. It's not due to tourism but to society and technology and globalization of industry.
 

thomas

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With the general population greying and many other industries in decline, tourism is a massive opportunity for Japan, one on which the country shouldn't miss out. Just like other members have pointed out, we cannot simply reduce the issue to revenue vs culture. They correlate!

Foreign travellers have inundated European cities like Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Dubrovnik and many others for decades.


And while there's certainly a backlash against mass tourism, the dilemma of locals vs travellers could be mitigated by introducing a range of measures some of which do work in other places:
  • Educate travellers on cultural particularities, not by refusing them entry but by elucidating, just like Kamakura did when they tried to ban eating in public.
  • Educate locals on how to educate foreign travellers, especially in a country like Japan where not all cultural intricacies are obvious to tourists. Collaborate with foreign tour operators for this purpose.
  • Regulate tourist streams in the most affected areas (e.g. Kiyomizudera in Kyoto).
  • Impose tourist taxes and
  • Use them to improve the local infrastructure (benefitting both locals and foreign visitors).
 

nice gaijin

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I like Beat Takeshi as an actor, but I wouldn't rely on him for sociological analysis... I think he's confusing tradition for culture here, and his attitude would lead to a poor result for his country. Japan's "culture" is already in decline because there aren't enough young people taking up the mantle of traditional arts and crafts; the shift in focus towards modern trappings and making money have squeezed some methods into obscurity, endangering ancient methods... The more I learn about traditional crafts like Ise Katagami, Hanko carving, Yosegi Zaiku, Nobori Arai, and so on, the more keenly I notice the absence of young Japanese artisans. Especially in martial arts, it's foreigners taking up the mantle and keeping the traditions alive. Tourists can be a pain, but it's misguided to blame tourists as a whole for this decline; for many, it's our love of Japan and Japanese things that bring us here.

Japan needs foreigners both as tourists and permanent residents to help their country survive. If you spend all your time in the big cities you may think that Japan is perfectly capable of thriving on its own, but go out into the countryside and the story is much different. In Shikoku, I saw so many tiny hamlets that had been pretty much abandoned. I walked and biked through entire neighborhoods that had been reclaimed by nature after standing empty for years or a couple decades. I camped on the grounds of an elementary school that had been shut down because there weren't enough kids to teach; it was a known site for pilgrims on the 88-temple trail. The elderly neighbors came by to give us piles of mikan, they were so lovely I felt sorry that their village was slowly dying before their eyes. I remember the area so vividly I was easily able to find it on Google maps: Google Maps

I totally agree with @thomas above, instead of complaining about the influx of tourists and all the negatives they bring, we ought to focus on ways to support the booming tourist industry (which will be increasingly important as Japan's manufacturing and other industries decline), so that it's mutually beneficial. The growing pains they're observing are not exclusively the fault of ignorant visitors,
 

jt9258

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And while there's certainly a backlash against mass tourism, the dilemma of locals vs travellers could be mitigated by introducing a range of measures some of which do work in other places:
  • Educate travellers on cultural particularities, not by refusing them entry but by elucidating, just like Kamakura did when they tried to ban eating in public.
  • Educate locals on how to educate foreign travellers, especially in a country like Japan where not all cultural intricacies are obvious to tourists. Collaborate with foreign tour operators for this purpose.
  • Regulate tourist streams in the most affected areas (e.g. Kiyomizudera in Kyoto).
  • Impose tourist taxes and
  • Use them to improve the local infrastructure (benefitting both locals and foreign visitors).
Its hard enough educating foreigners who live here, with travelers your just waisting your time.
 

Wolfman101

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Well he's not WRONG, exactly.

One of the things I think most of us like about Japan is how effectively they've been able to pick and choose what they take from abroad and what they keep as is.
They have been able to do this largely by being insular and isolationist.
I don't know if "culture" is what will be altered by tourism (it's immigration that does that) but certainly "atmosphere" will be/has been.

When I first lived in Japan over a decade ago, Ginza felt like a completely different place. When I came back 3 years ago I couldn't believe how much the buses of Chinese that were emptying into UniQlo/drug stores changed the feeling of the place. Once a classy, quiet area, it has become a raucous, elbowing one. In the daytime at least. At night the buses mostly pack them off to their hotels or whatever and it feels more "Ginza".
 

musicisgood

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This may sound a bit off-beat, but for the Japanese pension, I think the govt. will have to start taxing a fee on air and boat travel to Japan to help pay the pensioners that are in their 40's. Bad news was on TV this morning. They didn't quite say it, but anyone with common sense knows the truth now, there won't be enough funds available. Even now, my Japanese pension money is roughly 16000 yen every 2 months. My NHI and kaigo hoken is taken out now because people are not paying into the system. Yep, for you that plan to retire in Japan, don't expect much from the pension. Count on your Social Security from your country and your saving to make it in old age.
 

Deibiddo

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When I first lived in Japan over a decade ago, Ginza felt like a completely different place. When I came back 3 years ago I couldn't believe how much the buses of Chinese that were emptying into UniQlo/drug stores changed the feeling of the place. Once a classy, quiet area, it has become a raucous, elbowing one. In the daytime at least. At night the buses mostly pack them off to their hotels or whatever and it feels more "Ginza".
Same in the centre of Osaka, just full of tourists now. It's always been busy really but half the shops in Shinsaibashi-suji are now pharmacies. No let up in it at night either, the only respite comes from typhoons preventing flights coming in hahaha
 

nice gaijin

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Same in the centre of Osaka, just full of tourists now. It's always been busy really but half the shops in Shinsaibashi-suji are now pharmacies. No let up in it at night either, the only respite comes from typhoons preventing flights coming in hahaha
Why pharmacies? Back in North America it's not uncommon for US citizens to travel to Mexico or Canada to get cheap generics, is it something similar here?

Sorry for my ignorance, I'm fortunate enough to have very little need for pharmacies so far...
 

Deibiddo

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I heard Chinese tourists spend a lot of money on healthcare products because the Japanese-made ones are most likely safe whereas the ones in China might be counterfeit or, even worse, dangerous. A lot of them have employed Chinese-speaking staff and one of them even puts on dance shows in a window that can be seen from Dotonbori! I don't really mind them, it's not like they particularly cause me any more inconvenience than any of the locals. It was a bit of a shock seeing the transformation though, it has completely changed the streets of certain areas
 

TGI-ECT

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I haven't thought about that Beat Takeshi fella in a whole mess of years, as I stopped watching any television some 10 or so years ago. But when I read that name I still remember that business a long time ago when he went into an office building right down the street from where I had my office and he and a couple of others, --- one woman also with him, if I remember correctly --- and he and his partners messed up some fella or something like that. I believe my memory is telling me they actually attacked the individual. I was down the street at Obunsha. Maybe 30 plus years ago? Anybody remember that? Seems I also remember, now that he's on my mind, he had a motor scooter accident, didn't he? He's from Osaka, isn't he? Was paired up with some other comedian fella, yes? They have a special name for that, don't they? Or had.

Gosh I feel old.
 

musicisgood

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I haven't thought about that Beat Takeshi fella in a whole mess of years, as I stopped watching any television some 10 or so years ago. But when I read that name I still remember that business a long time ago when he went into an office building right down the street from where I had my office and he and a couple of others, --- one woman also with him, if I remember correctly --- and he and his partners messed up some fella or something like that. I believe my memory is telling me they actually attacked the individual. I was down the street at Obunsha. Maybe 30 plus years ago? Anybody remember that? Seems I also remember, now that he's on my mind, he had a motor scooter accident, didn't he? He's from Osaka, isn't he? Was paired up with some other comedian fella, yes? They have a special name for that, don't they? Or had.

Gosh I feel old.

I heard about the scooter / motorcycle thing. That is why his face is all fkd up. He took a bad spill.
Old, we are all old if been in and out of Japan since the early 70's.
 
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