The Guardian

Poring over the ledger at her more than 230-year-old liquor shop in Kyoto, Yasuko Fujii has mixed feelings about the return of foreign tourists who would crowd the streets of Japan’s ancient capital before the pandemic — and buy lots of whisky and wine.

Her ambivalence reflects a broader uncertainty in Japan about welcoming tourist hordes amid fears they could trigger a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, even though a weak yen would be a big draw for tourists and a boon for local businesses.

“From a business standpoint, we want foreign tourists to come,” the 79-year-old Ms Fujii said.

Millions of tourists from China, South Korea and South-East Asia used to throng the Nishiki market, where Ms Fujii’s shop is located, before curbs set in two years ago.

Locals often felt overwhelmed and many stopped coming, she said.

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