Mt Fuji’s allure is felt far beyond the community of serious alpine enthusiasts. As the most iconic symbol of Japan, the mountain captivates the hearts of even travelers who’re ordinarily interested in primarily urban itineraries, including fashonistas and otaku who rarely venture into altitudes higher than the sixth-floor of a Shibua department store or Akihabara anime shop.
The inviting curves of Mt Fuji imply a long but spiritually purifying trek into the sky as you gaze out over expansive vistas and contemplate both the world and your place in it. But the sense of quiet seclusion suggested by the seemingly unfettered slopes seen in distant photographs of Mt Fuji, that doesn’t always hold up when you take a closer look.
Last Sunday, Japanese Twitter user @kur was on Mt Fuji’s Yoshida Trail, where he snapped the above photo at the seventh station. “There’s a crazy traffic jam, and we can’t move forward at all,” he tweeted, later upgrading his mobility status to “a few steps every few minutes.” The broad appeal of Mt Fuji means the footpaths are traversed by a lot of people, and the packed queue stretches as far up the mountain as can be seen, with hikers standing shoulder-to-shoulder as their progress towards the summit comes to a halt.
The harsh contrast to the stately solitude Mt Fuji radiates from afar prompted other Twitter users to leave comments such as:
“I can’t believe we live in a reality where there are traffic jams on mountains.”
“It looks like the line at Comiket.”
“Wow, Mt Fuji is this crowded? I climbed it as a kid, but it wasn’t like this.”
“They’re going to have to start restricting admittance to the mountain.”
Regarding the last comment, in a way admittance to the upper slopes of Fuji already is restricted, as climbing is only allowed during a specified season (which this year runs from July 10 to September 10), which coincides with the safest weather conditions. But that limited window means that a whole year’s worth of hopeful summiters gather over the course of about two months. What’s more, last weekend was the start of the obon holiday, during which most workers and students in Japan have a week off, and to add even more congestion, the Yoshida Trail is the most popular route to the top of Fuji.
In other words, @kur was on the most crowded trail at perhaps the most crowded weekend, which explains why it was so packed. Luckily, his whole climb wasn’t like that, as this photo he took at the sixth station shows.
As crowded as Fuji can get, though, it’s rare to hear anyone who’s climbed Japan’s tallest mountain say they regretted the experience. Still, if you’re not sure you’d enjoy sharing that experience with quite so many people, you might want to plan your Fuji climb for a weekday, as well as consider taking one of the other trails than the Yoshida.
Source: Twitter/@kur via Otakomu
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