Foreign Traveler as Pest? How Japan Media Cover Foreign Tourists Recently

Foreign Traveler as Pest? How Japan Media Cover Foreign Tourists Recently

留学生・外国語人材ガイドマッチングサービス all rights reserved by onegai kaeru
留学生・外国語人材ガイドマッチングサービス all rights reserved by onegai kaeru

The Japanese yen is weak, making it an opportune time to visit Japan. In cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, foreign tourists are more abundant than ever. They are happy tourists, but are they aware of how Japanese media has recently been covering foreign travelers in Japan? It almost seems as if Japan is signaling that it does not want anyone to visit.


This stands in stark contrast to the pandemic period, when we heard how Japan missed foreign tourists due to COVID-19 and faced a bleak future.


Conclusion first. Why? 

1) News media is over saturated and the topic and content tends to be shocking and negative to win attentions.

2) Income gap in Japan is ever bigger. The majority of "middle class" Japan once boasted disappearing and economic pressure is so high on people. This results in massive stress and pessimism in the country. 


Let us explore several recent news reports in Japan. Well, not a great sight :


Shirakawa Village's Measures Against Over Tourism


In response to over tourism, Shirakawa Village is considering charging a fee to bus passengers using the Shirakawa-go Bus Terminal to help fund environmental conservation efforts. This was discussed in response to a question from a village council member during the June 25th regular meeting. The village has long debated the introduction of an entry tax or admission fee for the Ogimachi settlement, but implementing such charges from all visitors has been challenging due to the area's status as a residential community as well as a tourist attraction.


(Source: Chunichi News, June 26, 2024)


National Measures to Combat Over Tourism


As the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan increases, various areas are experiencing what is known as "over tourism." The Japan Tourism Agency plans to select new model regions for support by July to prevent and mitigate over tourism. Over tourism refers to the concentration of tourists in certain areas, negatively impacting the lives of local residents. Since the rapid recovery of tourism demand post-pandemic, some areas have faced issues such as overcrowded public transportation, traffic congestion, trespassing on private property for photo opportunities, and littering.


(Source: NHK News, June 24, 2024)


Kawagoe City's Efforts to Mitigate Over Tourism


Kawagoe City, known for its traditional warehouse district, is implementing measures to address over tourism. These include reducing waiting times at restaurants and shortening the time spent searching for available parking. The city allocated approximately 120 million yen for these measures in a supplementary budget proposal submitted to the city council's June regular meeting. The number of tourists visiting Kawagoe last year increased by 28% from the previous year, reaching 7.19 million, nearly recovering to pre-pandemic levels. This spring, 216,000 people visited "Ichiban-gai" street during the ten-day Golden Week holiday, a 1.5-fold increase from the previous year.


(Source: Yomiuri, June 19, 2024)


Yamanashi Prefecture's Response to Over Tourism


Yamanashi Prefecture's Fujiyoshida City has developed a parking lot with restrooms near the Honcho 2-chome intersection, a popular spot among foreign tourists for its view of Mount Fuji. The area had become problematic due to unauthorized parking and a lack of restrooms. The aim is to promote longer stays and economic benefits. The sudden "touristification" of this area through social media has caused over tourism, and this facility aims to address the issue.


(Source: Yomiuri, June 25, 2024)


So... many cities plan to introduce taxes for tourists and explain it is normal outside of Japan.


Considering the Introduction of Accommodation Taxes


With the rapid increase in inbound tourists, some local governments are considering introducing accommodation taxes. To date, 12 municipalities have decided to implement these taxes, and over 30 are considering it. Over tourism has significantly impacted the lives of local residents, necessitating measures to secure financial resources for countermeasures. The introduction of these taxes requires the approval of the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications.


In Europe and the United States, such taxes are common. For example, Hawaii imposes a tax rate of over 10%. In Europe, cities like Paris and Rome have long imposed such taxes, using the revenue for promotion, necessary facilities, and environmental protection.


(Source: Nikkei News, June 22, 2024)


And...the media reports it is not only Japanese who do not like travelers. Look at Spain etc.


Over Tourism Issues in Spain


In Spain, over tourism has disrupted the lives of residents. On June 19, ahead of the F1 Spanish Grand Prix, about 500 locals in Barcelona protested, holding placards that read "Tourists, go home," and denouncing "tourism pollution."


(Source: Newsweek, June 24, 2024)


Our recommendations...


In these uncertain times, with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing conflicts worldwide, society is experiencing significant stress.

In Japan, the growing number of tourists, who are often seen paying high prices that locals cannot afford, exacerbates feelings of economic exclusion among residents.


Some examples of foods mainly offered and targeted at foreign tourists in restaurants. Sea food "Inboun-DON". It is like 70USD-140USD per one bowl which normal Japanese may just pay 10USD comfortably. We are sure the Inboun-DON quality is much better than the ones we can afford but the price seems so horrendous (there is the news report from TBS news below). 


To address these issues, we need to focus on sustainable tourism practices. This includes avoiding popular destinations, visiting rural and less populated areas, consuming local foods, and supporting Japanese brands. These small actions can help alleviate the negative impact of over tourism and contribute to the local economy, just as we try to support local economies when traveling abroad.

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Source: Irasutoya
Enjoy bars in Japan. Dont drink too much!! Source: Irasutoya

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Tommy (Wednesday, 26 June 2024 13:27)

    This is a very insightful report. Yeah, over tourism is not Japan only issue.
    Thank you for the news! We love Japan!