Kyoto Landscape Policy 2007/ Policy Backfire

The Controversy of Tourism Bloom

As mentioned in Increasing Reputation in Tourism, one of the ultimate goals of landscape preservation is to enhance the city’s attractiveness and develop a tourism-oriented city to boost economy. At the same time, aging and shrinking population were also taken into consideration, lead to the encouragement from the government to migration [1]. In this context, tourism also seems to be an effective catalyst of economy [2]. As the cultural identity of Kyoto being strengthened, more visitors are coming for its good reputation, bringing increased revenue to this historic city [1]. However, we cannot disguise that the consequence is contradicted to the original intention to some extent.

On the one hand, the government planned to create a better environment for citizens. On the other, the preservation invited more tourists to come, interrupting the serene environment they claimed to create, leading a huge question mark to the role of citizens during the preservation action. The citizens have already begun to claim that they are suffering from too many tourists cramming into their living environment and the following inconvenience of daily life [3].

The designs of buildings, as well as advertisement, are also restricted by the policy in order to create a strong image of a historical city. Buildings with antique facades can be seen everywhere, especially pervading the so-called historical street. Most of those buildings are containing commercial activities nowadays, no matter whether they are original or counterfeit, implying the combination of tradition and modernization. Although the outcome is satisfying in terms of the integrated view after modification, it arose people’s worries of the appearance of more and more superficial scenery sites following the trend blindly [4].

Comparison of General Streetscape, Kyoto Landscape Official Data, 2012

[1] 京都市. “新景観政策 10年とこれから”. (2018).

[2] “Mayor of Kyoto has big plans for tourism”. (2014). thejapantimes. Retrieved from https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/09/12/national/mayor-of-kyoto-has-big-plans-for-tourism/#.XBktt-gzY2x. Accessed November 7th, 2018.

[3] PHILIP BRASOR. “Japan is struggling to deal with the foreign tourism boom”. (2018). thejapantimes. Retrieved from https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/05/05/national/media-national/japan-struggling-deal-foreign-tourism-boom/#.XBkl9-gzY2x. Accessed November 7th, 2018.

[4] Günter Nitschke. A Sense of Place: Urban Renewal in Kyoto. Kyoto Journal. (2011). Retrieved from https://kyotojournal.org/kyoto-notebook/urban-renewal-in-kyoto/. Accessed December 10th, 2018.

2 Comments on “Kyoto Landscape Policy 2007/ Policy Backfire

  1. I think it is interesting to raise the discussion on the balance between tradition and modernization. In this case of Kyoto, except for the Kyoto Station area, other parts seem quite anti-modern.Tall buildings area rarely seen and many houses are kept in traditional style.In this sense, the modern life seem to be congested or compressed in the station area. Do you think this is a good solution to conserve Kyoto as a historic town and fulfilling citizens’ needs for a modern life? And how do you think about the modification of the facades? Do you prefer a modern style or a traditional style?

  2. Cultural tourism is always a dilemma of a city. On one hand, it provides incentives for people to keep the traditional and vernacular environment since it could possibly bring economic benefits from cultural tourism. On the other hand, in case of “over-tourism”, it would disrupt the locals’ habitats, as mentioned above. I am always wondering if there would be a two-way solution? Perhaps, it requires the Kyoto government to set up policies to restrict travellers and their activities, so instead of letting tourism grows freely in historical town, it would be a more well-planned one.

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