Photo/IllutrationOne of about 100 bamboo trees that have been defaced in Kyoto's Arashiyama district (Go Takahashi)

  • Photo/Illustraion

KYOTO--Tourists to a bamboo forest in the Arashiyama district here have defaced dozens of trees by scratching their names and initials on them.

The bamboo forest is a popular stop because of a pathway through the thicket, which is roughly 3,800 square meters in size.

City authorities said that about 100 trees had been defaced since February.

Tourists typically commemorate being in the forest by carving their names or initials, along with the date of their visit, on the trees.

Most etchings are in Chinese, Korean or English, but some are in Japanese characters.

The Kyoto city government purchased the bamboo forest from private hands between 2003 and 2005. It has been accessible to the public during the day since 2015.

The damage to the bamboo forest came to the attention of a much wider audience from around early May, after Ebisuya, the company that manages the forest and also operates a rickshaw service in the Arashiyama area for tourists, wrote in its Facebook account, "the bamboo in Arashiyama is crying."

The company wanted to highlight awareness of the problem as it seemed to be getting worse.

A 21-year-old Swiss tourist was saddened May 18 by the proliferation of graffiti in such serene natural surroundings, while noting that in Europe graffiti is sometimes recognized as art.

(This article was written by Hideo Sato and Go Takahashi.)