"What do you think of the influx of foreign visitors coming to Japan?" I was asked by a Japanese TV director. Apparently, one person she'd asked distinguished between two types of tourists: good ones and bad ones. "We'd like to encourage only the good ones to come," this person had reportedly said.

I've heard this distinction before from Japanese people. For example, those who visit "cat islands" (there are about 13 of them in Japan) are said to be the worst because they arrive, snap photos of the feral cats and depart, leaving no economic benefit behind. In the meantime, the islanders are stuck with providing facilities for them (toilets, toilet paper, garbage bins, etc.) and cleaning up after them, all while having their own privacy compromised as some ill-mannered cat tourists trample through their yards and go to any length to get the perfect cute kitty shot.

The Benesse art islands in Kagawa Prefecture have been trying to keep out "bad tourists" for years. After having promoted the islands to the point of over-popularity, they are now having to deal with their own success. "The museums were so overpriced," exclaimed a young American artist who recently visited Naoshima for the first time. "And they weren't worth it," she added, clearly not impressed.