The maiko are back walking on the street unimpeded, the decibel levels in the shops are back to comfortable levels, and the taxi drivers are sitting around enjoying the smell of their own farts.
Kyoto, it seems, is back to what used to be considered normal, before the city became overwhelmed by hordes of foreign tourists. If any further proof was needed, the sign outside the central police station proudly boasts that it’s been well over 100 days since anyone defecated on a city street.
“For the time being, at least, we’re free of the Chinese visitors,” beamed resident street urchin Fumiko Noguso as she took time out from collecting tobacco from discarded cigarette butts, “That’s not to say that we’re going to start welcoming domestic tourists though.
“Some people read Yukio Mishima and come here expecting to take part in a stimulating discussion about the Golden Pavilion. Thank god we can avoid all that now, as only those who are born and bred in Kyoto can fully appreciate that novel. It’s bad enough seeing foreigners making out that they’re down with local literature, but people from Saitama and Chiba look twice as pathetic.”
Tabi Museum curator Kareshu Waki has a slightly broader outlook, hoping that Corona has given Kyoto a chance to start again. “Can we set up a system so that only nice foreigners can come here? Perhaps we can raise prices across the board. That way only cashed up Europeans, Israelis and North Americans will be able to come. Granted – some of them might be assholes like our cafe staff, but I’ll take them over those stingy bores from Nagoya going on and on about how quaint Gion looks.”
“The state of the toilets has improved remarkably,” enthused independent tofu wholesaler Seishi Katakunari. “One time I was in a stall and the smell was nasty. The guy in the stall next to me was Chinese. He was shouting on his phone and vacuating at the same time. I don’t know how he could stand it, though. I kid you not, it was like something had crawled up his ass and died. It smelt worse than a hikkikomori‘s house with a deceased mother still drawing the pension.”
It seems that bad-tourist tales have replaced The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, told with a touch of nostalgia when they are discussed. And, with the way things are going, hordes of Chinese tourists, rowdy students, and Antipodean backpackers may indeed be joining those street defecations, as stories from the Kyoto of the past… unless the tourists eventually return… or whatever.