Japan is very well-known for its “omotenashi” (wholeheartedly looking after guests) welcome reserved for tourists. However, with the tourist boom of the past few years, which peaked at more than 28 million visitors, Japan is struggling.
Commonly reported problems are overcrowding, especially on public transportation, particularly felt by Kyoto citizens, or mistakes in separating garbage according to the municipal rules that foreigners seem to not fully understand.
Japanese store and tourist associations now are facing a new issue: to ban or not to ban the practice of eating while walking that many tourists indulge in? And in case, how to kindly ask tourists to stop doing it? Recently several shops have started selling food that can be eaten while strolling. However the ban was invoked since litter and garbage abandoned on the streets near premises selling street-food is becoming part of the cities’ landscape. Places such as Kamakura, or renowned food markets such as Nishiki Market in Kyoto, are especially feeling the pressure of this problem. Moreover, visitors’ clothes can get dirty, and another question about personal safety is also to be taken into account: skewers pointy sticks, for instance, could potentially be harmful in the narrow and crowded streets of markets and small towns.
For now, shops are asking tourists to “collaborate” and to avoid eating and walking, but representatives of store associations acknowledge that eating while walking is part of the experience tourists are looking for. How will Japan deal with the necessity to keep streets clean and safe and its omotenashi culture?
Source: Japan Times