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Escaping OverTourism In Japan: Underrated Destinations Beyond Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Mount Fuji

Kyoto overtourism, kiyomizu temple, Japan overtourism
Overcrowded main street of Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto

Are you planning a trip to Japan this year? Hot topic on the news in Japan is overtourism in Kyoto and Tokyo.

Soon after Kyoto imposed a ban of tourists from entering alleys and private properties in famous geisha district of Gion Kyoto. Today is the first day where the Mount Fuji view at Yamanashi is being barricaded behind black mesh when the city lost control of tourist crowds who ignore traffic signs, flooding the streets and parking lots to take picture of Mount Fuji behind a convenient store. And up at Mount Fuji, the sacred mountain is also battling heavy hiking traffic, pollution and littering problems and will start implementing reservation system for climbing Mt. Fuji, starting May 2024.

It’s understandable if you’re tempted by Japan’s big three (Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto) and all the major attractions, especially if you’re a first time visitor. We can’t deny the appeal of these cities, but the over-saturation of tourists within them has created serious issues that last longer than any vacation will. Overcrowded streets, pollution, skyrocketing property prices, and economic disparities have caused the Japanese government to implement strict measures to combat the onslaught of tourists in recent years. 

As a traveler — and a consumer —  you have the power to counter the problem of overtourism by simply looking beyond Tokyo and Kyoto. Japan is a multifaceted country with so much to offer, from bustling cities to beautiful landscapes and charming villages that are havens for traditional crafts. Below we’re sharing some of our favorite towns and regions in Japan that often get overlooked, so your travels can make a positive impact. 

The Impact of OverTourism in Japan & How To Travel More Responsibly

The number of in-bound Japanese tourists has exploded since the end of the covid-19 pandemic. This may seem like good news to uplift the economy after the financial challenges brought on by the pandemic, but it has worsened the ongoing issue of overtourism in Japan. 

Locals have been feeling the pressure, from small business owners suffering due to competition from tourist-focused corporations to residents not being able to afford highly inflated properties in their hometowns. The government has introduced visitor caps and accommodation regulations while starting cultural preservation and off-peak travel initiatives, but most tourists still flock to Tokyo and Kyoto, appealed by images on social media showing beautiful (and empty) Japanese townscapes. You know not everything is real on social media, right?

So, what can you do to make your visit to Japan more responsible?