Covid robbed Kyoto of foreign tourists – now it is not sure it wants them back
City that had 8 million overseas visitors in 2019 – including free-spending parties of Chinese people – is getting used to the peace and quiet
Until a couple of years ago, negotiating the hill leading to one of Kyoto’s most popular temples would have tested the patience of a Buddhist saint. The arrival of yet another coachload of sightseers would send pedestrians fleeing to narrow paths already clogged with meandering visitors on their way to Kiyomizu-dera.
That was before Covid-19. Today, the cacophony of English and Chinese, and a smattering of other European and Asian languages, has been replaced by the chatter of Japanese children on school excursions. Shops selling souvenirs and wagashi sweets are almost empty, their unoccupied staff perhaps reminiscing about more lucrative times.