Kyoto has a heartbreaking message for visitors who carve graffiti on trees in the famous grove.

Kyoto is one of Japan’s top tourist destinations, filled with historic buildings and beautiful scenery, and one of the region’s most famous must-see sites is the mesmerising bamboo forest in Arashiyama.

The grove here is thick with bamboo, creating a canopy of leaves high up above and a serene, zen-like atmosphere below, despite the crowds of tourists that make their way through the area each day.

The future of the trees is now a topic of concern though, after the city of Kyoto, who owns and cares for the forest, discovered that at least 100 of the bamboo have been vandalised by tourists since February.

The extent of the damage first came to everyone’s attention earlier this month, when Ebisuya, a company that offers rickshaw rides in Arashiyama and also helps to manage the forest, sent out a message on their Facebook page, saying “Arashiayama’s bamboo is crying”.

In the post, the company says that bamboo which has been defaced will need to be cut down, meaning the number of trees in the grove will decrease and international tourists who come to see the forest will no longer be able to experience it in its full glory. They are calling on people to notify them when they see graffiti, and they request the cooperation of everyone to help preserve the bamboo grove.

▼ According to reports, most of the graffiti is in English, Korean and Chinese characters, but some Japanese characters have also been found on the trees.

Visitors might want to commemorate their trip to the forest by carving their names or initials and the date of their visit into the trees, but Kyoto City officials are urging visitors to stop the practice in order to preserve the forest.

According to a staff member in charge of managing the grove, who spoke to news outlet ANN in the video below, damaged bamboo rots, so the trees that are defaced have to be cut down and discarded. While they’re currently using green tape to help mask the damage and try to ward off rot, it’s only a temporary fix.

As word of the damage spread throughout Japan via national news reports on television, visitors shared some of their own photos of the damage online, expressing their sadness at the situation.

This Twitter user fears that the graffiti will increase even further and wonders if cultural differences might be to blame.

Sadly, it appears that the damage to bamboo in Kyoto is not confined to the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, as this Twitter user, who shared these photos from last year, says graffiti can also be seen on trees along a path at the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine complex.

Kyoto’s natural beauty will only continue to exist if we all take care of it, so next time you see graffiti on bamboo in the area, be sure to notify staff in the area, and if you see anyone defacing trees, you might want to confront them about it, and let them know that the trees are crying.

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun
Featured image: Twitter/@fjthrkmay