One of the oldest temples in Kyoto stands in the Higashiyama neighborhood. The one in Kodaiji , surrounded by gardens, is a real spectacle when the fall colors break through. It rose coated with lacquer and gold, accentuating its magical aura, until a fire destroyed its facade in 1912 and the reconstruction opted for a more modest design, matching the tastes of the time. It adapted to the times, it could be said.
More than 400 years of tradition, since 1606, are palpated on its walls ... until a metallic voice welcomes visitors to this Zen Buddhist temple. This is the Kannon deity, a kind of life-size android, which receives tourists and believers, in an attempt not to miss the train of modernity. To adapt again, let's go.
Its function, as explained by those responsible for the Kodaiji temple, is to connect with the new generations, speak to them with another language today, breaking the barrier of modesty to speak with a traditional priest, and all this without losing the essence of tradition , so important in the old Japanese capital.
Not everyone has understood, of course. Some even talk about sacrilege. But this kind of robot goddess, Kannon, is gradually consolidating as part of the landscape of the temple, as in its day were gold and lacquer. What only a few weeks ago, when he debuted, was controversial, today it is normalizing and merges with the times.
Japan is an expert when it comes to combining tradition and modernity. And that's how their tourists perceive it. Cities like Tokyo are shown to the world as symbols of the future. Others, like Kyoto, offer the picturesque image of the most ancestral traditions. Millions of tourists walk their streets every year in search of a photo with their geishas and visiting their temples and museums. And as the phenomenon continues to grow, the city tries to channel visitor flows in the most Japanese way possible. To adapt also to the new times, basically.
To this end, the Kyoto City Tourism Association (KCTA), the tourist office of the ancient Japanese city, has launched the Kyoto Tourism Navi initiative, a kind of traffic light that, based on artificial intelligence, predicts the level of "tourist comfort" and proposes alternative routes with less visitor density.
Kyoto Tourism Navi is available on the official website of the Kyoto tourist office. As if it were a calendar, it serves to anticipate, up to six months in advance, the mentioned «comfort level» that visitors will find in the city.
But how is that comfort level calculated? With artificial intelligence «The prediction is the result of crossing data, from the last three years, of variables such as the geolocation of mobiles, weather, days of the week or the density of visits in certain urban points, which are obtained thanks to the collaboration with private companies », explain those responsible.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, the application determines "with a high degree of accuracy" five levels of global congestion for all urban areas and tourist attractions in Kyoto and thus offers real-time alternatives so that visitors can avoid as much as possible. possible to fall into a tourist mousetrap. This avoids the frustration of the visitor and leaves the door open for possible return.
Like the new android of the Kodaiji temple, the tourist sector sees ideas and destinations like Kyoto have a certain front. Immersed in a profound digital and model transformation - see the bankruptcy of tour operator Thomas Cook - the sector is torn between adapting to the times or dying in the attempt.
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