We all have them. Or maybe we all had them but they’ve been ruined by the advent of sōsharumedia which seems determined to out every special hidden place anyone has found, complete with detailed chizu. It’s benri, but it is also the easy track when it is done for Japan.
One of my biggest shokku upon returning to Kyoto in 2016 was the amount of signage offered up in English, Korean and Chinese. Kyoto is a tourist city, but really? You’re going to make it that easy for people? Don’t they need to pay their dues (like I did) and learn the language and the ins and outs the hard way? Grumble, grumble. Can you see why the original title of this blog was the Grouchy Granny?
Even worse than this is the amount of jōhō that is easily found online about places that used to be secret, isolated, empty and shizuka, that are now overrun with kankōkyaku. I do not like to share. Especially when I put in the work!
In the summer of 1979, a friend and I took another friend to visit Kiyomizu Temple. That’s almost the number one tourist spot in Kyoto, but we also knew it would feel cooler up in the hills. After we’d walked around the temple grounds we found a little tea shop with a niwa in back. You’d never know it was there unless you could read Japanese. It was unassuming… and beautiful. The owner took this shashin of the three of us.
It seems ironic for me to complain about kankōkōgai when I myself was a tourist in 2016. But… I put in my time. And was able to find the Kyoto I missed on the back streets and in restaurants with no language but Japanese. So there.
- sōsharumedia – ソーシャルメディア social media
- chizu – 地図 a map
- benri – 便利 convenient
- shokku – ショック shock(s), surprise
- shizuka – 静か quiet/peaceful
- kankōkyaku – 観光客 tourist(s)
- niwa – 庭 garden
- shashin – 写真 photograph(s)
- kankōkōgai – 観光公害 overtourism. Literally tourism pollution.