One of the most visited and photographed tourists spots in Kyoto, Japan is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove—a place where people can find peace and solitude amidst the soaring bamboo stalks on the western outskirts of the city. But as people flock to see the bamboo trees, some tourists decided to leave their “mark” at the Unesco World Heritage Site.
At least 100 bamboo trees were found to be vandalized by tourists who engraved their names and initials in English, Korean, and Chinese characters. According to Japan Times, the number has rapidly increased since April and tourists have been doing it to “commemorate their trip.”
“The visitors might have carved their names to commemorate their trips, but we can’t accept such behavior which could disappoint many other tourists who are looking forward to enjoying the scenery of the forests,” a city official of Kyoto said.
Japanese are known to have unique views and high respect towards nature as certain trees like the cherry blossoms carry symbolisms and significance in their culture. The defacing of the bamboo trees in Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is an unacceptable act and an utter disrespect to nature for them. Engraving or damaging the bamboo trees could also endanger the other trees in the grove—or even worse, potentially lead to the closure of the tourist site.
“Bamboo trees are connected by their roots and so if one is damaged the other trees will also get affected. In such a situation there will be no other choice but to chop down bamboo trees to protect the entire forest, and so, please stop such behaviour,” said Takayuki Suzuki, manager of the bamboo forest.
Ebisuya, a tour agency in Kyoto that runs a rickshaw service in the bamboo forest, shared in a Facebook post that the chopped damaged trees will lead to the rapid decrease of the trees in the grove. “There is no choice but to chop down bamboo trees that are damaged and the number of trees will decrease steadily. In this way, a beautiful tourism site will be lost.”
Kyoto City plans to put up signages in multiple languages to warn tourists from defacing the trees. To protect the trees from further vandalism and damages, the management is also considering to raise the height of the fences.
*Featured image from: Inside Kyoto and Ebisuya
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