Foreign tourists annoy Geisha in Kyoto

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    The BBC has picked up a report from the Yomiuri about crowds of tourists causing trouble for geisha in Kyoto:

    According to Japanese media, local government research shows that geiko (fully-fledged geisha) and maiko (apprentice geisha) are often surrounded or pursued by groups of tourists.

    “Some tourists seem to have the impression that Gion is a theme park, and geisha and maiko are walking the streets as part of a performance,” an official of Higashiyama ward office told the Yomiuri newspaper.

    An 18-year-old maiko told the newspaper that people silently approach her “and suddenly stand beside me to have photographs taken, so I get taken by surprise”.

    In response to this, local residents and restaurant owners have volunteered to patrol the neighbourhood several times a week.

    Japan has used pictures of maiko in its tourism posters for years now, so it’s hardly unexpected that large numbers of tourists will be a problem for maiko walking down a street in an area of Kyoto widely promoted as a tourist destination. Having a few volunteers to help with crowd control sounds like a very good idea.

    The BBC article was pretty vague about the nationality of the tourists causing the problem, which probably means they used the Yomiuri’s English version of the story as their main source. The original Japanese version of the article is very direct in its emphasis that foreign tourists are the source of the problem, even mentioning them in the headline and first sentence of the report:

    京都の舞妓さん受難、外国人観光客らのマナー違反に「堪忍」

     京都の花街・祇園甲部で、芸舞妓(まいこ)の人気が過熱し、外国人観光客やアマチュアカメラマンが取り囲むため、住民らがパトロールする事態になっている。

     テレビや映画で芸舞妓が取り上げられる機会が増え、被害がエスカレートしているという。京都市などは、海外向けホームページで「Donot follow Maikos in the streets(舞妓さんを追いかけないで下さい)」などと、異例の呼びかけを始めた。

    Did the translator putting the article into English feel uncomfortable preserving the focus of the original headline and article, or was it something else? If, as the Japanese language article suggests, foreign tourists are the main participants in this behavior, why not be similarly direct in reporting the information in the English version?

    [via FG]

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