Roughly one million Japanese tourists travel to France every year for their holidays, but a small minority of those travellers are said to suffer from a sensational psychiatric infliction known as ‘Paris syndrome’.
It is said that some Japanese tourists – as many as a dozen a year – are so overwhelmed by the rudeness of some Parisians or the fact that the city has not managed to live up to their expectations that they suffer a psychiatric breakdown.
This is a case of deep culture shock, where the tourist’s romantic vision of Paris – the one often painted in movies – is so deeply unsettled that they are forced to return home immediately, often under nurse supervision.
Japanese culture is typically polite, with raised voices and apparent rudeness to strangers an incredible rarity. It is suggested because of this that Parisian quirks ordinarily laughed off by tourists from Western cultures, such as Parisians getting flustered if a tourist does not speak fluent French, are deeply and genuinely upsetting to some Japanese tourists.
The Japanese embassy has even gone so far as to employ a 24 hour hotline for tourists who may be suffering from so-called ‘Paris syndrome’, offering advice on how to cope.