the Jan. 13 article “Respect ‘maiko’ privacy, don’t act like paparazzi, Kyoto tells tourists”: All of Kyoto has aggressively promoted tourism to the international community. The city.kyoto.jp Web site provides a pamphlet that dedicates two pages to the maiko (apprentice geisha), the same amount of space given to all the world heritage sites in Kyoto.
So what do you expect? The city of Kyoto has gotten exactly what it asked for — an influx of tourists to the city. It saddens me greatly when I see xenophobic TV reports on this issue blaming tourists who were sold the maiko tour and now treated as the uncultured barbarian. Shame on Kyoto city officials and shame on the reporters who promote this sensationalistic reporting of so called paparazzi. They should get their facts straight and do a little research into an issue before reporting on it.
It took me a total of five minutes to find out how the maiko are promoted to the tourist. I have lived in Japan for nearly 20 years, very near Kyoto, and have visited the city on countless occasions. In all the times I have visited Gion, I have yet to have had the opportunity take a single photo of a maiko.
The real issue is for incompetent city officials to stop victimizing the maiko with promotions and blaming tourists who have spent a great deal of money to come and see what was promised them. Sadly, the maiko themselves share some of the blame, jumping into taxis to avoid being seen. This is not what is promised in Kyoto tourist information, Web sites and even TV.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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