”We expected a strong, positive reaction from young people” says city government spokesperson.

Last week, a photography ban was instituted on certain streets in Kyoto’s historical Gion district. The new policy has come about as a response to the increasing numbers of tourists who, in some locals’ opinions, have been overstepping the bounds of good manners in their attempts to get the perfect like-worthy photo to post online.

However, that’s not to say that Kyoto is entirely averse to getting an increased amount of social media attention. In autumn of last year, comedy duo Miki, made up of Kyoto-native brothers Kosei and Asei Miki, sent out a total of four tweets encouraging people to check out the Kyoto International Film Festival and buy local products under the furusato nozei system, which allows people anywhere in Japan to classify their purchase of designated regional foodstuffs and crafts as a donation, reaping the tax benefits that go along with charitable expenditures. The tweets were accompanied by photos of the duo in front of traditional Kyoto architecture, similar to the cityscapes on the streets that have now enacted photography bans.

“Kyoto is the best! Everybody, let’s energize Kyoto!! Anyone who loves Kyoto can help support Kyoto! Click here for more details,” tweeted Asei, along with a link to a furusato nozei site.

However, this week it came to light that Miki’s tweets were motivated by more than just hometown pride. Talent agency Yoshimoto Kogyo, which represents the duo, has admitted that the tweets were made in accordance with a contract the company signed with the city of Kyoto, with the city paying 500,000 yen (US$4,630) per tweet.

▼ A Kyoto-sponsored tweet from Kosei

Celebrity endorsements are an ubiquitous part of show business in Japan, with no backlash for performers “selling out.” However, that lack of stigma usually means that promotional tie-ups with celebrities are loudly trumpeted. In the case of Kyoto and Miki, however, the compensated capacity of the duo’s tweets wasn’t revealed until this week, leading to criticism about the use of public funds for a stealth marketing campaign.

Following the revelation, a spokesperson for the Kyoto mayor’s office told reporters that since Miki’s tweets were accompanied by a hashtag that translates to “Kyoto energizing squad,” the city had no further responsibility to disclose the nature of its relationship with the comedians. That doesn’t seem to be an opinion all of Kyoto’s citizens agree with, though, and shows that even Japan’s ancient capital isn’t immune to social media growing pains.

Source: Jiji via Livedoor News
Top image: Pakutaso
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