When to share a travel photo, but not its location

There may be hidden consequences for every picture we share on social media.

There may be hidden consequences for every picture we share on social media. Photo: Getty

Originally from Malaysia, content creator Arisa (known as @arisachw to her 158,000 Instagram followers) now resides in Kyoto, Japan, with her Japanese husband and young child.

Arisa says living in a city that is one of Japan’s biggest tourist attractions has its downsides – including noisy tourists chattering outside her home day and night, something that’s especially annoying when she’s trying to sleep.

Despite being in a city littered with important historical sites that are hundreds of years old, she tells The New Daily that  locals avoid these areas if possible due to overcrowding on streets and public transport.

With these daily inconveniences, you’d think Arisa might be looking to limit the surge in tourists Japan has experienced post-COVID, with many heading to sites they’ve seen on social media.

Arisa says people just need to look beyond the limits of their phone screen – and use some common sense.

“With the rise of social media, a lot of people just view Japan as an Instagrammable location,” she says.

“So they just come here, snap photos – it’s like a touch and go thing. This part rather saddens me.

“Then when people complain online saying ‘oh, it’s too crowded,’ … when you dig deeper to all these complaints, you notice that they are missing the best part of Japan, which is experienced doing a slow travel and experiencing the culture as it is, rather than just an Instagram location.”

Consequences of overtourism

From Ibiza to Bali, a number of international tourist hotspots have cracked down on poor tourist behaviour exacerbated by overtourism over the past year.

In Japan, authorities have been forced to make several changes during the past few months, from banning tourists from certain alleyways in Kyoto to erecting a barrier to stop people taking pictures in front of a convenience store near Mount Fuji.

Most recently, visitors to a 1300-year-old shrine in Kyoto will no longer be able to ring traditional bells when praying at night due to damage by tourists and confrontations with locals.

Some social media users have become increasingly protective of their local ‘hidden gems’, and have called for others to stop posting about them to avoid an influx of visitors ‘ruining’ the experience.

Arisa says while tourists should be respectful wherever they travel, the biggest issues arise when they promote locations that are not prepared for a surge in visitors, using the Lawson convenience store in front of Mount Fuji as an example.

“It’s a very picturesque place … [but] this is not a tourist spot per se, it’s convenience store,” she says.

“People just post photos without thinking of the consequences of their actions when they share it online. So the masses will just think that it’s alright to just copy and do the same thing as well for their own pages; this contributes to the influx of visitors.

“We can’t control who goes there, good people or bad people, we can’t control that. But as content creators, I realised that it’s our responsibility of what we post online.”

mount fuji japan tourism

This view of Mount Fuji has now been blocked. Photo: Getty

Using social media responsibly

Arisa is against gatekeeping locations, especially in countries like Japan which have “enough space for all”.

But she says if you’re posting to social media, make sure the areas are spacious enough to accomodate a crowd and that they are meant for visitors, such as lakes, hiking trails, and theme parks.

When it comes to places such as private homes, use “common sense” by keeping pictures off social media.

“Housing areas, even though it’s nice, take the picture [and] keep it as your memory. You do not need to tag [the location] because … it’s a residential area,” Arisa says.

“Japan is beautiful inside and out. Anywhere you go, you can get a lovely picture, but you do not need to promote those places that are not meant to be tourist spots.

“Instagram was a nice place where people could just share any picture they want and everyone will go compliment them for it. But right now, everybody wants … to be a content creator. So … everyone is just copying one another without realising the impact they’re causing.”

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