Your correspondent has been travelling to Japan for many decades. This most recent trip of June 2019 to Osaka and Kyoto has disclosed something as dramatic as Climate Change.
These change is enormous and has been repeated in Venice, Barcelona and Berlin… there are shocking consequences for us in Europe, in Asia and in the rest of the world if we just carry on as if nothing is happening.
I would never have accepted that the reality of these changes is so dramatic without this final trip to Japan.
The young lady from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, got it right, like many other Swedes, that we cannot carry on with polluting our atmosphere with noxious gases from fossil fuels, or with polluting our seas and lakes with plastics.
What we saw in Japan was the same Tsunami that struck Thailand and Japan several years ago. Today we are killing the globe with the same Tsunami of tourists and travellers that has never been seen before in the history of mankind.
Now in addition to the hundreds of millions of Americans and Europeans on the streets, we now see on the streets the Chinese and other Asians all chasing the illusion that there is something fine and original to gasp at – something never seen before…
Cities, tourist attractions, airports, train stations, streets, restaurants, bars and cafes are seeing long queues. Booking.com and TripAdvisor have a global reach that encourage the global commercialisation of tourism. Nothing is intimate, nothing is original. They operate across of globe creating a dulling sameness, just like the big global brands for drinks, food, clothing, accessories.
Facebook, Snapchat, Google, and many others push identical bits of data between young and old as if each story is an original and interesting masterpiece.
News is not news but short meaningless twitters that contain nothing more than a wisp of information but plenty of empty cacophonic rubbish.
Music is reduced to “Love Me” or “Yeah, Yeah Yeah!” with half-naked girls or teenage dudes in gold chains. They too resemble the sad mean “meals” that Starbucks, McDonalds and KFC’s are selling. They are not selling food, but slices of meat and potatoes soaked in sugar, salt, fat and flour.
The trains, the metros, the streets, the airports, the restaurants are full of folk staring blankly at their “smart phones”, as if they are saving themselves or the world from certain oblivion by doing that. It is as if by producing that slim slippery iPhone or Samsung, the one that cost USD 1000, from your jeans back pocket, a brave new world opens up.
You are connected, you are somebody, the world is listening to YOU! It is as if you are the proud privileged owner of a Ferrari or a Porsche. It is as if that Climate Change and care of the planet do not apply to you…
As we sat in the plane on our return trip, we saw once more Finnair’s claim that they are everything that is sustainable! They have created hell on wings by allowing thousands and thousands to fly to “wonderful” Finland, where new AirBnB rooms, Booking.com hotels and “real experiences” are popping up like mushrooms after the rain. We may compensate for greenhouse emissions, but most of the million other passengers have no idea or do not care… and Finnair just wants a slice of the pie while claiming in a loud voice to be sustainable.
Finnair offers the same “McD” trash food all wrapped in plastic. The piles of plastic waste cups, eating utensils, water bottles, plastic bags, plastic covers pile up in huge sacks…
You should have seen one corner of our hotel in Japan this morning – there were just 60 rooms, but the piles of plastic waste were far too high and spilled across the back corridor. The small shops and department stores in Japan, like Finland, have wrapped just about everything in plastic. In most places fresh fruit and vegetables were limited to bananas and apples only… the rest was all processed like Finnair’s “gourmet meals” (their advertising jingle…).
Osaka and Koyto are not overrun by tourists, that would not be a correct explanantion. The right description would be that they are being destroyed by tourists.
Temples, shopping arcades, old towns, bamboo forests, secluded forest waterfalls are just money-grabbing businesses out to make the biggest possible profit from the millions of arriving tourists. Even the wild monkeys are in on the same business. They will grab any food that any poor tourist happens to have poking from his pocket or rucksack.
There are still many lovely places and things to do in Japan, but mass tourism is making sure that their days are numbered.
Do we want to have the same trash mass tourism in Finland? Lapland is already being raped Finnair’s enthusiasm for Asian tourists and there are already far too many to stop the natural beauty from being destroyed. Santa Claus Land is just another money grabbing plastic myth.
We already know that the big cruise ships are all polluting our seas and harbours more than all of our city traffic. Airbnb have already plundered quite apartment buildings and taxes are not being paid for what is really professional hotel activities. Imagine the disturbance when their guests arrive in the middle of the day and night, banging walls and doors with their heavy cases, imagine the cleaning ladies arriving to clean their rooms and remove the inevitable excessive waste. NIMBY you would say… but more and more people have that disturbance now without any legal protection.
There is nothing wrong with careful and friendly tourism when reasonable numbers visit, but this mass stuff from huge cruise ships to the ever-increasing number of flights in big planes needs to be restricted.