Is overtourism ruining countries? It’s an interesting question that some countries, particularly Japan, are facing right now. I actually had no idea tourism in Japan was booming. My own relationship with Japan started some 30 years ago. I went there multiple times to attend a Japanese art and culture program. Back then when I traveled outside of the major Japanese cities, many Japanese people had never seen an American before.
It’s been way too long since I’ve been to Japan, so I’m excited to be heading back there. Perhaps that’s why articles like these this one and this one, regarding Japan’s surge in tourism and how the local Japanese people are reacting have peaked my interest. And as these articles allude to, it’s not all for the best.
I asked two of my Japanese friends what they thought about these articles and overtourism and their sense about how the Japanese are reacting. One friend had noticed the Japanese media reported something about this. But he feels that Kyoto’s sightseeing spots were already overcrowded 20 years ago. Twenty years ago even during the week it was necessary to visit sites in Kyoto as early in the morning as possible. My other friend felt the articles are true for those people who have been living in the overtouristed areas mentioned, such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. She did feel that a lot of Japanese people do appreciate that more people are interested in visiting Japan, especially with the 2020 Olympics coming to Japan.
Your Suggestions For My Trip, Please!
Given that I have a trip coming up, if you’ve been to Japan recently, even if it was your first time, did you feel like it was too crowded and overrun by tourists? I know it’s a perception and depends a lot on the time of year and where you visit, but I’d love to know your thoughts on this. I’ll be focusing on the Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto areas so if you have any tips about what to see or memorable restaurants you experienced, do let me know.