An article from Kotaku states that tourists are making Geisha and Maiko (Geisha apprentices) lives difficult to deal with in the city of Kyoto. This is due to the fact that when on vacation tourists love to capture everything that they see within a photo. All for the simple bragging rights of, “hey, I did this thing while on vacation in Japan”, and that is perfectly reasonable. We’re all guilty of such things from our own vacations. However, when we live in a technologically connected world, where tourists that go through Kyoto have phones that have cameras and can access social media incredibly easily, we begin to disturb the ebb and flow of Japan’s cities and citizens. Add in the fact that tourists treat Geisha’s and Maiko’s as walking tourist attractions, like amusement park mascots instead of citizens simply walking to work, this will surely create dismay for said group of people.
What is the ‘Geisha’?
Well, according to japan-guide.com, the Geisha is a hostess of sorts. She is a woman whose job it is to be a professional entertainer for guests during meals and other occasions. Typically they will entertain guests with drinking games, conversation, music, dance and other various forms of traditional Japanese Art. The main idea for the Geisha is to keep the guest at ease.
With the Geisha’s occupation being one of entertainment it’s not hard to believe that they deal with photo taking, with tourists and other guests, already. Most likely on a daily basis. So it’s understandable as to why they would be scared, nervous, possibly rude or angry about tourists running them down and taking selfies or other photos with them. With or without permission, most tourists probably don’t care.
Does Japan take action?
In fact, there are strict privacy laws in Japan for such tourist actions. These laws prohibit or limit selfies in public, eating in public, littering and smoking. There are also signs in Japan’s nightlife districts prohibiting such actions towards Geishas like touching and unsanctioned photo taking. Beyond the signs, volunteers in Japan pass out pamphlets to warn/advise tourists about taking such actions towards Geisha’s as well.
Japan can only do so much when educating possible tourists about what is proper and improper action while staying as a guest in Japan. Remember, you are their guest. It is up to the tourist to find out what is proper and improper action as well. Simple research can make a vacation to Japan a lot simpler for you and its citizens (that goes to any vacation). It’s understandable that seeing a Geisha can be exciting, you’ve never experienced it; however, do so through proper channels and business transactions instead of running them down in the streets for photo opportunities. It’ll be more appreciated.