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Could Bali Learn From Japan’s New Tourism Bans?

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Over the last two years Bali has been battling against a small but growing minority of unruly culturally disrespectful and in some cases criminally inclined tourists visiting the island.

Some would argue this is an issue that has been going on for decades.

But could the Island of the Gods learn a thing or two from Japan when it comes to reclaiming private spaces and quashing disrespectful behavior?

Gion in Kyoto Japan.jpg

Japan has boomed as a travel destination for Australian tourists since the end of the pandemic. With so much culture to explore, incredible ski resorts, great family-friendly resorts, and buzzing metropolitan cities, Japan ticks a lot of boxes.

In fact, Japan has overtaken Bali as one of the leading travel destinations for Australian tourists, although Australian tourists are still the most frequent international arrivals in Bali. 

@japanwonders #fypシ #foryou #japanlife #fyp #kyoto #gion #japan ♬ original sound – Japan Wonders🌷Tinai Sensei

Towards the end of 2023, Kyoto’s well-known geisha community in Gion called upon the local government to take serious action against their quaint and quiet streets becoming a ‘theme park’.

The community had been seeing an ever-increasing number of tourists, many of whom were experiencing the areas in a wholly detached way, walking through private streets, taking photos without permission, stalking geisha women and interfering with daily life simply by being around.

The Kyoto and local government listened and have installed signs banning tourists from ‘private’ streets in Gion. What’s more, tourists will be issued with a hefty fine if they are caught taking photos of geisha women in their famous kimonos without permission, to the tune of Y10,000 around AUD 100. 

@bunnytokyo Kyoto's Gion district, famous for Geisha sightings, is banning tourists from its alleys. 🚫 The surge in tourism has brought unwanted attention to geisha and caused overcrowding. Residents complain that "Gion isn't a theme park, and tourists often ignore signs about respecting their and the Geisha’s space." ‼️There have been reports of people not letting Geisha and Maiko (apprentice Geisha) walk to their appointments, demanding photos, tugging at their clothes and even throwing things at them. ⭐️ The main street, Hanamikoji, will remain open to the public, but the alleys will be off-limits. However, officials are still figuring out how they will enforce the ban. 💬What do YOU think of all this? Have you ever seen Geisha in Kyoto? What do you think of Kyoto’s tourism issues? 🇯🇵 ⭐️ Follow @Bunnytokyo for daily Japan travel tips, Tokyo hidden gems and Anime-infused activities for your trip! 🐰🇯🇵 #kyoto #fushimiinari #fushimiinaritaisha #Kioto #arashiyama #gion #geisha #maiko #arashiyamabambooforest #京都 #tokyotrip #japantrip #japantravel #japantourism #japanitinerary #日本 #🇯🇵 ♬ Baby My Phone – Yameii Online

The signs are printed in both Japanese and English and read, “this is a private road, so you are not allowed to drive through it.” The ban isn’t kicking tourists out of Gion for good.

Tourists are still welcome to roam the main public streets, and there is so much to explore, but the private streets used by residents and the community will now be protected from tourist views. 

Could this be a solution to the impending over tourism at Bali’s Penglipuran Village and beyond? Local leaders are already coming up to plans to avoid a worst case scenario of over tourism in the iconic and multi-award winning tourism cultural village.

@choosebali Have you been to penglipuran village? If you want to see a village that still preserves their traditional culture in their daily lives, go check this out. . Credit to: @dasha.wanderlust . Connect with Choose Bali to arrange your Bali Escape now. . #ChooseBali #Amed #BaliItinerary #TheBaliBible #BaliGuide #BaliDestinations #BaliTrekking #Balitours ♬ original sound – choosebali

This is an ideal that Bali could learn from. Over the last few years, and even just last week, tourists have been overstepping the line when it comes to cultural respect.

Tourists in Bali have been known to flout rules regarding temple dress codes, even sitting in sacred spaces completely naked for photoshoots or starting fights with security guards who have closed local community streets for ceremonial parades. 


Bali has introduced a number of measures to help reinstate peace and harmony between tourists and the local community, keep tourists safe, and educate visitors about what is and isn’t acceptable.

But could banning foreigners and tourists from certain areas of the island be the drastic approach needed to really preserve Balinese culture? 


New measures introduced recently include the tourism tax levy and the deployment of a series of tourism police units and their canine friends to help get on top of the issue.

The IDR 150,000 fee is set to be used to help ‘nuture nature’ while ‘preserving Balinese culture’ and improving tourism infrastructure on the island.

However, since the tax was written into legislation and came into effect on the 14th of February, it is believed that 60% of foreign tourists who should have been paying the fee have not yet done so.

Either the socialization of the new tax has not been widespread enough, or tourists are chancing their luck at dodging the fee.


The new Tourism Satpol Police Units are out on patrol in Bali’s busiest and most popular resorts and attractions.

They have been supporting the Bali Tourism Office in ensuring visitors are paying their tourism tax by conducting spot checks and are also on hand to chat with tourists about the list of do’s and don’ts as issued by the Bali provincial government last year.

The officers are dressed in a more informal ranger-style uniform, are young and enthusiastic, and each unit is accompanied by their ‘tourist friend’, a specially trained Kintamani puppy who serves as a kind of talking opener and has been trained to be around tourists and sit still for photos. 

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J West

Thursday 11th of April 2024

Bali and its Balinese are in the way . In order to achieve “ peak tourism” Balinese must be separated from interaction with tourists. Bali is no longer a cultural reserve anymore than Ubud monkeys. Bali is ‘ an entertainment zone’ and the sooner they take that idea seriously there will less spillage of unspent capital to foreign real estate buyers and fewer wasted revenues spent on religious and social conflicts. The Russians have the right idea ….’ Isolation from all others’ while locals deliver clean sheets and exotic sex partners.

Heather Fruin

Wednesday 10th of April 2024

Tourists should only go to Balinese celebrations if they've been invited by the village. My husband and I went to a tooth filling ceremony a few years ago but we were invited by friends who live in the village. It was very interesting. We made a small monetary contribution as the Balinese have so many celebrations which are wonderful but can get expensive. A couple of tourists tried to get to m but they were turned away.


Tuesday 9th of April 2024


Just completely ignore the amazing cleaniless, politeness and top-of-the-world public transport, ór the fact that they teach Japanese who work in tourism exactly how to deal with tourists, but just suggest all will be solved when you start fining tourists. FFS.

You know what they also do in Japan? They keep their streets clean, they treat nature with upmost respect, they have a waste-management system, they do not burn plastic in front of your house, they are in time because they know it's insulting to somebody else if you are late and they keep quit in public transport in order not to disturb other people! A wonderfull country indeed! So maybe try all that first, before suggesting tourists who are tricked into coming to "the magical island" should fear being fined.

Oh, btw, also a good one to borrow from the Japanese: It's free to enter Japan as a tourist, and immigration takes you no more than 30 minutes ;). Another bonus: you will not feel threatened by an army of local taxi drivers when you try to leave the airport!

But yes, of course, find more ways to demand money without actually improving what you are offering.


Wednesday 10th of April 2024

@James, big 👍


Tuesday 9th of April 2024

Japan is doing minor adjustments. In the Canarias islands (belong to Spain) on the other hand there is an "uprising" against the effects of mass tourism:

"The dramatic influx of holidaymakers to the Canarias has allegedly led to congestion of health services, the collapse of the waste management system, the lack of water for consumption and the agricultural sector, overcrowding of protected spaces, a rise in crime and a loss of biodiversity, among other complaints."

Sounds exactly like the issues in Bali. But are the big wigs going to do anything to rescue their cash cow? Or just see how far they can take it?


Wayan Bo

Tuesday 9th of April 2024

Japan remain occupied since the end of WWII and it’s good so. - Statues similar to Barong are present all over Japan.