Throughout the City of Kyoto, you can feel the touch of so much history and so many skilled craftspeople. There are intangible traditions carried down through the local people, too, that form a part of the city’s living culture. Before your visit, be sure to take note of some of these local rules in Kyoto, to help preserve and respect this ancient city as you enjoy your time here.
Kyoto City recently released a video with a request for tourists from the mayor:
As a part of an effort to help tourists better understand some of the local rules in Kyoto, the city has also distributed these stickers, which you may see around town, to local businesses:
Blend in with the Locals: How to Act in Kyoto
Part of traveling (as opposed to being a tourist) is being aware and learning about local etiquette at your destination. In Kyoto, there may be a lot of “firsts”—whether it’s your first ryokan inn, onsen, or glimpse of a real geiko! It’s hard to know how to behave: what should you do first? You can learn some of the ropes with these infographics, explaining what to do (and what not to do) in some of the above situations:
Tips for Visiting the District of Gion
Gion is one of Kyoto’s geiko districts. The “kagai,” or districts where geiko live and work have a particular culture and history, and require some special courtesy when you make your visit.
Tips for Visiting Arashiyama and Nishiki Market
Arashiyama’s Sagano Bamboo Grove and central Kyoto’s “kitchen,” Nishiki Market, are both extremely popular locations amongst visitors to Kyoto, and it’s easy to see why. When you make a visit, please be aware of some local requests and etiquette.
Nishiki Market offers a variety of delicious Kyoto goodies, from vegetables to fish and sweets, but visitors are asked to refrain from eating foods they purchase at Nishiki Market while walking around, as the street is very narrow, and to be careful about how they dispose of trash.
In Arashiyama, the bamboo grove is sure to take your breath away! The towering blue-green stalks are a sight to see. However, to make sure that everyone can continue to enjoy the otherworldly atmosphere of the bamboo grove, it’s important to remember to treat it with respect: Preserving Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Please also be sure to make sure to throw any trash in trash bins.
For smoother travel for everyone
To make sure that everyone can enjoy walking through Kyoto comfortably, please be aware that smoking isn’t allowed on the streets. (You’ll find designated locations in many cafés and restaurants)
While you’ll definitely want to take some photos to commemorate your trip, if you plan to use some fancier recording devices, like mounting your camera on a drone, please be aware of Japan’s regulations on the use of such aircraft. See details here: Japan’s safety rules on Unmanned Aircraft (UA)/Drone
When it comes to other items you might carry around with you, trash and/or disposable products are bound to be one of them at some point. Cities and their residents around the world are becoming more and more aware of their impact on the environment, and Kyoto is no different. A reduction in plastic and the rise of eco shopping bags are just some of the changes you can see on the ground, and the city has even put together a charmingly illustrated pamphlet with some specific pointers for visitors on how to reduce waste while traveling in Kyoto and Japan! See here: 2Rs Action Guide for Reducing Waste
You may feel lighter with less waste, but you can’t help having your hands full with luggage! It’s a pain to haul from location to location, and onto public transport, where it may even take up some seating space. Hands Free Kyoto is a wonderful solution for this, saving you the hassle of carrying your luggage by offering storage and transport as needed, so you can enjoy the city feeling free and light.
Familiarizing yourself with some local manners and customs is a part of travel to any new location, and it can even make your trip more enjoyable (it may even make you the Kyoto expert in your group!). Just a little bit of care can help to preserve this beautiful city for its residents, and ensure that visiting Kyoto will be a lovely experience for all its visitors.