More than once, Travel and Leisure readers have voted Kyoto the best city in the world to visit. Having lived there for over six years myself, I can attest to the beauty and splendor of its temples, shrines, gardens, and ancient arts.
As the imperial capital of Japan for over 1,000 years, it has a heritage to be proud of. And, indeed, among the Japanese, Kyotoites have a reputation for being a proud (bordering on snobby) lot.
Kyoto City’s Official Travel Guide Website is replete with stunning pictures and helpful information, including an etiquette infographic designed to help you behave properly while you are there.
The etiquette guide, called Akimahen (meaning “Don’t do!” in Kyoto dialect), features a banner of five angry-looking Kyotoites and a list of 18 things you shouldn’t do with angry-faced emoji to show just how offensive the actions are in the world’s best city. These include:
1. Don’t smoke outdoors (better to smoke indoors, right?).
2. Don’t stop maiko to have your picture taken with them – they have a job to do!
3. Stand back while taxi driver uses his lever to open the door for you. And while you are at it, instead of tipping (you wouldn’t want them to get used to it), try saying ookini (thank you in Kyoto dialect).
4. Don’t be a litter bug, that really bugs people.
5. Don’t walk on tatami mats with your shoes on. (But you knew this.)
6. Don’t take your own food or drinks into a restaurant – you go to a restaurant to buy theirs.
7. Line up you disorderly people!
8. If you make a reservation, for gosh sake, don’t cancel at the last minute.
9. Don’t drink sake while riding a bike.
10. Keep toilets clean. (If it’s a squat toilet, don’t squat on the hood – squat facing it.)
11. Don’t hog space.
12. Give your seat to those who need it – the way the Japanese do...
13. Whether you’re drunk or not, don’t leave your bike on the road. (Just because no one will steal it, that doesn’t give you license to inconvenience others.)
14. Don’t take pictures near train tracks. If you get run over, that will really inconvenience others.
15. Keep your fingers off those ancient buildings and objects!
16. Temples and shrines are sacred places – please be quiet.
17. And don’t take pictures where it’s prohibited!
18. Last but not least, take your sunglasses and hats off while in a temple or shrine. There's time to take moviestar selfies outside.
And by the way, when you walk into a restaurant, they won’t call out irasshaimase (welcome). In Kyoto dialect it’s oideyasu.
Oideyasu to Kyoto!