Mount Fuji Is Really Having a Problem With Tourists

Crowd-control gate is installed on famous mountain
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 17, 2024 1:27 PM CDT
Governor Installs a Gate on Mount Fuji
Workers set up a gate ahead of a trail to Mount Fuji, in Fujiyoshida, in Japan's Yamanashi prefecture, on Monday.   (Kyodo News via AP)

A crowd-control gate was installed halfway up Japan's Mount Fuji on Monday ahead of the July 1 start of this year's climbing season, but the governor of Yamanashi, one of the two prefectures that are home to the mountain, said additional measures are needed to control overcrowding on its lower slopes. The gate was completed as part of a new set of rules that Yamanashi is introducing this year to address growing safety, environmental, and overcrowding problems on the mountain, reports the AP.

The newly installed gate will be closed between 4pm and 3am local time to lock out those who haven't booked an overnight stay at a hut along the Yoshida Trail, which is used by most climbers, mainly to stop "bullet climbing," or rushing to the summit without adequate rest, considered a major safety risk. A maximum of 4,000 climbers will be allowed to enter the trail per day.

"The restrictions that will take effect this year are measures to address the problems that are putting climbers' lives at risk," Yamanashi Gov. Kotaro Nagasaki said, adding that the number of climbers on the trail this year is expected to surpass last year's 137,236. But the tons of trash left behind have become a major concern, among others. "Overcrowding near the summit could lead to a major disaster, like people falling in a domino effect," he said. Under the new system, climbers must make reservations and choose between a day hike or an overnight stay at one of several huts along the trail. There's a mandatory hiking fee of about $12.70 and an optional donation of about $6.35 for conservation.

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Nagasaki said he's confident that the new measures will ease overcrowding on the upper reaches of Mount Fuji, but that problems remain lower down. Shizuoka prefecture, which also contains part of the mountain, currently imposes no mandatory hiking restrictions. On June 10, it began an online registration system in which climbers fill in their hiking plans and are encouraged not to climb after 4pm. Recently, the town of Fujikawaguchiko erected a large black screen to block the view of Mount Fuji after tourists began crowding the area to take photos of the mountain appearing to sit on the roof of a convenience store. It didn't work so well. (More Mount Fuji stories.)

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