Japan blocks view of Insta-famous Mount Fuji

Barrier blocking the view of Mount Fuji is installed

Source: NHK News

A Japanese town has erected a black screen to stop tourists from taking photos of Mount Fuji — the country’s tallest peak and one of its most iconic views.

The 20-metre netted barrier went up in Fujikawaguchiko to try to curb the huge popularity that has been spreading on social media platforms.

Earlier in May, it was revealed a massive influx of Insta-happy tourists has led to angst in the town, with locals complaining of crowds from dawn to dusk and the poor behaviour of visitors, such as littering.

Japan is grappling with the issue of overtourism, with three million people a month visiting in March and April this year.

The town of Fujikawaguchiko has a particular viewpoint of Mount Fuji – a snow-capped dormant volcano – near the start of hiking trails.

It has been the centre of controversy in recent months as local businesses aired their grievances about the impact of the tourism boom.

The Ibishi Dental Clinic told CNN its employees and patients had to deal with harassment by tourists.

“There was a series of nuisance illegal activities such as leaving garbage, trespassing on the premises, smoking, eating in the parking lot or under the roofs of private homes, and trespassing on the rooftop, which often resulted in a call to the police,” the clinic said in a statement.

“It became not uncommon for people to shout insults at us or to throw away their cigarettes while they were still lit when we asked them to move their cars.”

Tourists crowd the footpath to take pictures of Mount Fuji from opposite a convenience store. Photo: Getty

The dramatic move came as Japan also introduced a booking and payment system for the most popular trails on the conical volcano.

The new rules for the climbing season, which runs from July 1-September 10, apply for those hiking the Yoshida Trail on the Yamanashi side of the 3776-metre-high mountain, which was designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2013.

Only 4000 climbers will be allowed to enter the trail each day for a hiking fee of ¥2000 ($27). Of those slots, 3000 would be available for online booking and the remaining 1000 could be booked in person on the day of the climb, Yamanashi prefecture said in a statement.

Hikers can also donate a further ¥1000 for conservation.

Climbers can book their slots via the Mount Fuji Climbing website, which is run by the Environment Ministry and the mountain’s two home prefectures, Yamanashi and Shizuoka.

Under the system, climbers must choose between a day hike or an overnight stay at huts along the trail. The day of their climb, they are given a QR code to be scanned at the fifth station.

Climbers who have not booked an overnight hut will be sent back down and not allowed to climb between 4pm and 3am. The measure is intended to stop “bullet climbing”, or rushing to the summit without adequate rest, which authorities are worried puts lives at risk.

Tourists pose in front of a convenience store before the black barrier went up. Photo: Getty

A symbol of Japan, the mountain called Fujisan used to be a place of pilgrimage. Today, it especially attracts hikers who climb to the summit to see the sunrise. But the tonnes of rubbish left behind, including plastic bottles, food and even clothes, have become a major concern.

In a statement, Yamanashi govenor Kotaro Nagasaki thanked people for their understanding and co-operation in helping conserve Mount Fuji.

Japan’s Enviroment Ministry said 221,322 people climbed Fuji during last year’s season. That is close to the pre-Covid level – and officials expect more visitors this year.

Overtourism has also become a growing issue at other popular tourist destinations such as Kyoto and Kamakura as visitors have flocked to Japan in droves since pandemic restrictions were lifted, in part due to the weaker yen.

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