Kyoto residents have had enough. A surge in tourism in recent years has brought with it an outbreak of dirty toilets and misbehaving travelers.
The city of Kyoto is battling the problem in what might be seen as a typically Japanese way – issuing polite guidelines amplified by adorable graphics to illustrate their annoyance.
Kyoto’s Tourism and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions) promotion office has shared two separate etiquette guides – “How to Use this Toilet” and “Insider Guide to Kyoto Part II: AKiMaHen (Don’ts) of Kyoto” – on the city’s official website.
The toilet guides, which come in four languages, cater to users of both Japanese- and Western-style toilets. The three-step guides illustrate how to sit on the toilet, where to throw toilet paper and how to flush.
“Many tourists use Japan’s public toilets the way they would use the toilets at home and discard used toilet paper in the trash bin,” says the announcement on the website. The guidelines will be posted as stickers in the city’s public and private toilet facilities.
List of don’ts for travelers
The city also hopes to address cultural conflicts arising from differences in lifestyles, according to an official memo on the website. Kyoto City has worked with TripAdvisor to create “AKiMaHen (Don’ts) of Kyoto,” a leaflet aimed at visitors.
The leaflet is topped with an illustration of five grumpy-looking Kyotoites captioned, “Kyotoites are pretty fastidious!”
Each impolite act gets an “AKiMaHen” rating from one mildly unhappy emoticon to three red, fiercely angry faces.
Some of the least unacceptable behaviors are tipping – how dare you! – and opening taxi doors by yourself. Taxi doors in Japan are opened and closed remotely by taxi drivers.
The most serious offenses include smoking outdoors in non-designated areas – punishable by a fine of 1,000 yen ($8).
Bicycling while drunk carries a whopping penalty of up to one million yen ($8,000) or five years in prison.
Other tips include being polite when asking a maiko (an apprentice dancer who wears a traditional kimono) for pictures and not canceling restaurant reservations at the last minute.
It’s the second part in an Insider Guide series. The first part focuses on facts and tips about Kyoto.
This article was originally published in August 2015.