Popular Japanese tourist spots are trying to find ways to keep tourists from eating while walking in such a manner that would offend the locals.
The Nishiki Market, known as the “kitchen of Kyoto” for centuries, is one such destination, Japan Times reports.
With over 120 stores selling an assortment of heirloom vegetables, fresh fish or pickled vegetables, the market has attracted about 30% of all foreign tourists in Kyoto in 2017, based on the municipal government estimates.
As foreign visitors increased, shops began selling foods that people can munch on while walking around, such as fried food on skewers.
The market association has since expressed concern not only about the growing amount of litter on the narrow streets but also the risk of getting injured by sharp food sticks carried by others in crowded areas.
Since October of last year, stores were asked to display signs that said “No eating while walking” in Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
For now, the association is resorting to a polite approach in asking them to cooperate instead of banning the practice to not drive the tourists away.
The association has also posted an announcement on its website calling for people to eat their food at the shop where it was purchased instead of carrying it around with them.
In line with their efforts, Market association president Katsumi Utsu, 81, noted how they intend to keep protecting the traditions of the market while caring for foreign travelers.
“We want visitors to return home without any trouble,” Utsu was quoted as saying.
Canadian tourist Karen Choi said she understood the initiative, noting her surprise at how crowded the market can get.
Meanwhile, Chinese tourist Michelle Wang, defended eating and walking as it adds to the appreciation of the market’s atmosphere.
A similar concern also exists in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, in which the eateries and shops lined up in its Komachi-Dori, attract an average of 50,000 to 60,000 tourists daily.
Store association president Norikazu Takahashi admitted that “We can’t ban the act of eating while walking,” as this is “one of the ways to enjoy sightseeing.”
“We want to make the street a place where both travelers and residents can feel good,” the 76-year-old official added.
In April, the local government introduced an ordinance that describes eating while walking in crowded areas as a public nuisance that can ruin other people’s’ clothes.