Kyoto now welcomes 50 million tourists a year who come to experience Japan’s traditional culture and architecture, plus catch a glimpse of the city’s famed geisha. But, as anyone who lives in a tourist hot spot knows, living there is not the same as a short visit.

As such, the following is a list of some of the things that Kyoto locals probably have the urge to remind tourists of from time to time, so allow us to shatter your illusions with some of the realities that come with living in Japan’s ancient capital.

1. Kyoto City is actually the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, so when someone says they’re from Kyoto it doesn’t necessarily mean they live in the heart of Japan’s cultural capital.

2. Most native Kyotoites don’t actually know that much about the area they live in. Because all these beautiful temples are always there, they just never quite find the right time to actually go and visit them, so don’t expect residents to be walking encyclopaedias of historical knowledge.


Wikimedia Commons

3. It’s not all vibrant temples and quaint tea houses. Supermarket Fresco is everywhere. Branches of the chain started popping up with alarming speed around 30 years ago and haven’t stopped since. Before you know it that old local store’s been knocked down and there’s a Fresco standing in its place


Wikimedia Commons, “Geisha boom” by sprklg

4. There’s a violent ongoing battle between commuters and tourists to ride the city buses. Buses often run right past their stops without pausing because they’re already filled up with tourists, enraging people trying to get to work or school.

5. Kyoto uses a unique address system within Japan which means that their addresses are super long, and this place in Kyoto boasts the longest address in Japan: 京都府京都市上京区智恵光院通り芦山寺上る西入る西社町, which would be read as Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Kamigyō-ku, Chiekouindōri Rosanji-agaru nishi-iru, NishiyashirochōIf you add in an apartment name, too, then it clocks in at over 50 characters. That’s a pain to fill in on a form!


Wikimedia Commons

6. There are many place names that even Japanese people can’t read. Many areas have retained the same name for hundreds of years, meaning that they’re written with outdated kanji characters and have readings that are impossible to decipher.


Wikimedia Commons, “Geiko Miharu” by Japanexperterna

7. All those beautiful maiko and geisha you see wandering the streets? They’re most likely just people trying it out for the day. The real geisha-in-training aren’t generally seen out and about during the day, and they have a lot of rules they must follow so you won’t ever see a real one in Starbucks or MacDonald’s, or messing around with her cell phone.


Wikimedia Commons

8. Due to its location in a basin, the area has bad wind flow, making it especially cold in winter and especially hot in summer. Locals are bemused to see unprepared tourists appearing in shorts and t-shirts all year round.

9. There can be such a thing as too much history. There’ll be some history professor who’ll go green with envy when he finds out he’s living on the site where some minor historically relevant incident occurred, but most people are just there to go about their daily lives. In an area as densely packed with culture and history as Kyoto is, whenever there is construction work going on it’s likely to dig up some kind of ancient artifacts or a tomb, which is great for the historians, but not so great when your area really needs that new subway line or supermarket (probably a Fresco).


Kiyomizu-dera Official Tumblr

Living in a tourist magnet like Kyoto has its downsides, but honestly, I would think that the beauty of the place more than makes up for these minor annoyances. And while locals like to gripe about other people’s rose-tinted views of the city every now and again, we’re sure that deep down they love and appreciate the place more than anyone.

Source: Curazy
Images: Wikimedia Commons “Police officer and maiko Mameyuri” by Greg – Flickr: Beauty and the Bicycle.