How a single Japanese tourist got to enter Machu Picchu alone

Like many of us have experienced in the past months, Japanese tourist Jesse Katayama had his vacation plans ruined due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Back in March, Katayama, a native of Osaka, arrived in Peru with the dream of visiting the ruins of Machu Picchu—the ancient Inca citadel. But when the pandemic hit, Katayama became stranded in the town of Aguas Calientes, which sits on the slopes of the mountains near the site.

He made the most of his time by exploring local attractions such as the Calientes Waterfalls and even taught boxing classes to some of the local kids. However, as he started to run out of money, it looked like Takayama would have to head back home to Japan without ever having used his Machu Picchu ticket.

But thanks to the help of a local tour company called Andean Roots Peru, Katayama received special permission from the national Ministry of Culture to visit the normally crowded site all by himself. Well, almost by himself: he was accompanied by two photographers who documented the experience and by Jose Bastante, the site’s chief.

In a celebratory Instagram post, Katayama wrote the following: “I thought I would never make it (to Machu Picchu) but everyone asked the government and the town and they game me super special permission. Peruvians are soooo kind. Thank you soooo much!”

As for other tourists who want to enter the UNESCO World Heritage site, the government said it will reopen for tourists sometime in November, permitting 30 percent of its normal capacity of 675 people per day.

Image source: Andean Roots Peru

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