• The Japanese embassy reports many victims of Paris Syndrome are single women travelling looking for a romantic experience. (AP)
Paris Syndrome is a psychological condition experienced almost exclusively by Japanese tourists who are disappointed when the city of lights does not live up to their romantic expectations.
By
Lucinda Kent

30 Dec 2015 - 11:12 AM  UPDATED 30 Dec 2015 - 11:18 AM

Paris Syndrome is a psychological condition experienced almost exclusively by Japanese tourists who are disappointed when the city of lights does not live up to their romantic expectations.

The syndrome, considered an extreme case of culture shock, causes symptoms such as an acute delusional state, hallucinations, anxiety, dizziness, and sweating, has been documented by medical journals.

So why does Paris make Japanese visitors sick?

The French psychiatric journal Nervure cites the disappointment many visitors feel is caused by the over-romanticised expectations of Paris as a city of love, fashion, and glamorous people.

The city is a popular tourist destination due to Japan’s fascination with all things French; cities such as Tokyo are filled with French patisseries and luxury French fashion outlets such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
Around six million Japanese people visit France each year.

In Japanese popular culture Paris is associated with romantic films such as Amelie and is thought to be the stuff of fairytales, cobble-stoned streets and all.

When the reality of the modern city of Paris sets in, with its notoriously rude service and confusing public transport, some tourists simply cannot cope with their expectations being dashed.

Combined with exhaustion, language barriers, and culture barriers, homesickness and culture shock can cause serious psychological distress.

The Japanese embassy in Paris repatriates up to 20 tourists a year, sending them home with a doctor or nurse to ensure they recover from the shock.

The embassy also runs a 24-hour helpline for expatriates experiencing the syndrome.

The problem appears to be growing worse instead of improving, as there have been reports of Chinese tourists, part of the country's emerging middle class travelling abroad for the first time, experiencing the syndrome.

While lowered expectations may prevent the shock, Professor Hiroaki Ota who first identified the syndrome over 25 years ago, says there is only one cure.

The permanent fix is board a flight home and never return to Paris.

Bon voyage.