They must come at the crack of dawn, or be really good with Photoshop, I mused on my last visit to Kyoto’s famed Arashiyama bamboo forest just two years ago. Those hauntingly beautiful photographs of the serene stalks gently rocking in the wind are almost impossible to replicate without having hundreds of other people in your photo too.
But with international and domestic tourists putting off travel since the outbreak of coronavirus, Kyoto looks very different.
The Chinese are the biggest foreign visitors to Japan, and Kyoto is high on their list of places to go. But as the Chinese government imposes coronavirus-related restrictions on outbound overseas group tours from China, Kyoto, which once worried about overtourism, is now facing the opposite problem, JapanToday reported.
Locals say they haven’t seen such a dramatic drop in visitors in over thirty years, so merchants from the Ukyo and Nishikyo wards in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district have begun a new advertising campaign to encourage tourists to visit the area.
The campaign is based on the slogan for ‘Suitemasu Arashiyama’, or ‘Empty Arashiyama’, and the accompanying images show popular tourist spots in the area empty.
Visiting now will allow visitors to “savour Arashiyama as it originally looked” before the tourist boom, locals say.
With the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo just over five months away, let’s hope for a few more crowds soon.
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