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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Head For The Hills To Avoid Kyoto Crowds

Above, our tour group poses at Kiyomizu-dera, the last stop of the tour of Kyoto. 

The ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto has been almost overrun with foreign tourists in recent years.

If, by chance one is planning to visit Japan, The Japan Times has posted an article on what visitors can do to avoid the crowds.

We visited Kyoto last October and took a half-day tour and found the crowd situation manageable, but increasingly more difficult to get a good spot at different attractions to take photographs. People were polite, on the whole, but they still made it difficult. I wanted to show [Censored] some of the places in Kyoto that we visited during the 2004 G-TOUR. We took a commuter train from Osaka to Kyoto Station. We found the tour at the station. Despite the crowds, we enjoyed Kyoto.

Above, tourist crowds on the Kiyomizu-dera stage. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

They begin with:
The age-old road leading to Kiyomizu Temple had turned into a river of people. Accents and languages from across the world filled the shop-lined slope, as couples in rented kimono took photos with selfie sticks and amateur photographers tried to get a shot devoid of the crowds — a nearly impossible feat. Tourists stood munching on yatsuhashi (traditional sweets made of rice flour and often filled with red bean paste) or holding cones of matcha (green tea) ice cream, and tour guides used megaphones and waved flags to ensure their groups stayed together. Others were just trying to make their way through the congestion to the iconic temple at the top. 
This is the reality of summer in Kyoto, a city crowded with an ever-increasing number of tourists. According to the Japanese National Tourism Organization, more than 20 million visitors entered the country in 2015 and the government has recently raised their target for 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics, to 40 million. The ancient city of Kyoto — once the capital, and which many still consider to be the beating heart of Japanese civilization and culture — is a prime destination.
To read more, go here.

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