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Sunday, 31st August 2014
In Japan Entertainment News,

Kyoto looks to improve duty free shopping

As the ancient capital of Japan and a place where much of the power in the country is still concentrated, Kyoto is never short of foreign visitors. In fact, its extraordinary collection of must-see temples and shrines has made it one of the most popular destinations.

However, if there's one area that the metropolis falls down on, it is shopping. While there are a number major high streets and extravagant malls such as Shijo Dori, the ancient capital doesn't come close to matching its rivals Tokyo and Osaka for duty free purchases.

When foreign tourists shop in Japan, they are exempt from the consumption tax in duty free shops, of which there are 4,622 in the country as of April 2013, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.

The vast majority of these were concentrated in Tokyo (1,767) and Osaka (727), with just 152 in the Kyoto prefecture and 139 in the city itself. But the metropolitan government wants to change all of this, with plans to expand duty free shops in autumn.

These will include expanding the range of permissible duty free items, which has until now been limited to home appliances, handbags and other non-expendables. It is hoped the revised list will include food and cosmetics.

Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa commented on the issue: "I want to take advantage of this opportunity so foreign tourists will be satisfied with the shopping, too. If the shopping environment improves, then we will become the greatest sightseeing city in the world."

Various surveys conducted by travel industry experts and publications have seen Kyoto score highly across many fields, including friendliness and culture, while it is frequently let down by its shopping scene. However, by this time next year, this could well be a very different story.

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