Tourists strike again.
When I first heard about this ban, the first thing that came to mind was why would you ban photography in one of the most beautiful and most photographed areas in all of Japan. After all the most iconic images of Japan are taken in Gion, Kyoto, home to UNESCO world heritage sites and elegant geisha walking the cobble stone streets in gorgeous kimonos, This quaint old town is a throwback to a bygone era, and it is such a magical experience wandering these streets and being lucky enough to come across a maiko or geisha is something truly special.
I’ve have been to Kyoto on several occasions, and have been lucky enough to encounter the illusive maiko & geisha. I have come across them when no-one else has been around, but I have also experienced when there are hordes of people lined up, surrounding taxis, chasing the woman, all for the pursuit of getting their travel insta-moment photos and it is not very pleasant experience. I can only imagine how this feels for the woman. So I can totally understand from that perspective why the locals and residents have had enough of the poor behaviour of tourists, smoking, trespassing and general bad behaviour and being disrespectful of local traditions and if you weigh all that up its easy to see why the ban is here.
It is such a shame, I have found that if you’re respectful of space that you can get a beautiful travel portrait photo without going to the extremes of chasing geishas, shoving the camera in their face, and more often than not, the woman were happy to pose for photos, and in some cases happy for me to be in the photo with them. I love Japan, and in particular Gion in Kyoto, it is such a majestic location, theres nothing like it in the world, the experiences I have had there sits as one of my favourite places in the world. It saddens me that photos are no longer aloud, and its frustrating that a handful of dumb tourists ruin it for everyone, but I am grateful for the shots that I have managed to capture over the years which you can see below.
The question is will the ban be reversed in time for the 2020 olympics, will tourists respect the new laws, can the maiko and geisha finally go back to their business in peace… I really hope so. With the explosion of social media, and everyone trying to out do each others photo for more likes, maybe bans like this will enforce us to go back to a time where we experience holidays and get immersed in the experience and culture, soaking up the atmosphere without needing to post about it.