10 Things NOT to do in Kyoto, Japan

A not-do list can be just as helpful as a to-do list when visiting a new scene. Kyoto prides itself on being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Once the capital of Japan, it’s known for being the home to thousands of Buddhist temples, imperial palaces, gardens, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. If you’re planning to recharge at Kyoto, remember not to these ten things.

#1 Smoke Outdoors

You won’t find Cherry Blossoms inside. Unless they’re plastic…

Well, it’s not be the best idea to even do it indoors, but when you step outside for a puff you could just get a fined 1,000 Yen. The streets of Kyoto are busy with people and no one likes a cloud of smoke in their faces.

#2 Insist on A Picture with a Maiko 

Always treat a lady right!

Maiko perform songs, dances and play traditional Japanese instruments like the shamisen or the koto for feasts. When they’re dressed in kimonos they’re on the job, so ask nicely if they’d like to take a picture with you.

#3 Stand too Near a Taxi

Why hasn’t anyone else thought of automatic doors?

The taxi doors open and close automatically. Yup — right where it hurts. Keep a safe distance, people.

#4 Tip a Waiter

Even when the food is THIS good.

Japan has a no-tipping custom. A little thank you really does go a long way in Japan, so instead flash a big smile and go “Okini!”.

#5 Litter Like it’s No Big Deal

In a city this clean, you wouldn’t get away with is even if you tried.

Because it is. 30,000 Yen in fine is a very, very big deal.

#6 Cycle Around When Drunk

Park it overnight — Kyoto is a very safe place!

Anti-drunk bicycling regulations have recently been strengthened, imposing either a fine of 1 million Yen or five years in prison. Yelp.

#7 Leave Your Bicycle Where You Please

No double-parking either.

You want to ride your bicycle, you want to ride your bike… but you can’t park it where you like. Unless it’s one of the designated bicycle parking spots. If you do, someone call the bicycle police! You can get slapped with a 2,300 Yen fine.

#8 Take a YOLO Shot Near a Train

It’s the world-famous Bullet Train (from a safe distance).

No amount of likes can justify the danger of taking a picture too close to the tracks, especially at the Fushimi Inari Station on the Keihan Line.

#9 Touch Old Buildings

And remember to remove your shoes and socks.

Most buildings and objects found in Kyoto are dated, made of wood and considered national treasures. Be very careful where you choose to lean against!

#10 Wear Sunnies at the Shrines

The beautiful golden Kinkaku-Ji Temple.

Remove your hat and sunglasses when visiting holy sites as a sign of respect. In some areas, taking pictures are prohibited too. Be mindful of warning signs if you’re not sure.

Turning Japanese, we really think so. 

Photo credits: Main, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Diandra Soliano

Our resident Wander Woman with a passion for languages, big cities and bronzer. When she's not listening to The Smiths a little too loudly at the office (after hours!), she can be found singing along to the soundtrack of Les Miserables with her two cats for an audience.

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