Disruptive foreign tourists shake bell ropes at Yasaka-jinja Shrine in Kyoto

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Yasaka-jinja Shrine

28th May 2024 – (Kyoto) Yasaka-jinja Shrine in Kyoto, Japan, has become a hot topic on Japanese social media due to a circulating video that allegedly shows foreign tourists engaging in playful and disruptive behavioru by vigorously shaking the shrine’s bell ropes. In response to this incident, the main office of Yasaka-jinja Shrine announced on 25th May that they will temporarily remove the bell ropes from the main hall between 5pm and 6am daily.

The official website of Yasaka-jinja Shrine stated that this measure is being implemented to ensure the safety of visitors. During this time, visitors will still be able to participate in regular worship activities but won’t be able to engage in bell ringing rituals.

According to a video posted on social media by a Japanese netizen on 23rd May, a group of foreign tourists at Yasaka-jinja Shrine were seen intentionally banging the bell ropes against the wooden fence surrounding the shrine’s main hall. When the netizen attempted to intervene and stop their behaviou, she was met with verbal abuse from the tourists.

The video shows the netizen engaging in a discussion with the tourists, while one foreign man responded in both Japanese and English. Additionally, other netizens shared similar videos in the past, showcasing instances of foreign visitors energetically shaking the shrine’s bells.

The shrine’s representative, interviewed by a local sports newspaper, acknowledged the existence of the video incident but stated that they are currently unable to confirm specific details. It has been observed in recent years that the shrine’s bells have suffered significant damage due to visitors vigorously shaking them. While staff members can remind visitors during the daytime, they have limited control over the situation during the evening hours.

Yasaka-jinja Shrine, the head shrine of approximately 2,300 Yasaka Shrines throughout Japan, is a renowned historical landmark in Kyoto. It is known for hosting one of Japan’s three major festivals, the Gion Festival. The shrine’s main hall was designated as a national treasure in 2020, and several of its buildings are recognised as important cultural assets.