Photo: Twitter/@kur
national

Human traffic jam on Mt Fuji shows why weekdays are best days to climb

24 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

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.

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 7.59.44.png

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

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Hike from the sea to the peak of Mt. Fuji with new bilingual English/Japanese guide map series

-- Mount Fuji has become so congested with tourists that it has reached breaking point

-- Dear Hikers: Stop pooping on Mt. Fuji if you want it to keep its UNESCO status

© SoraNews24

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

24 Comments
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Yeah.....nah

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Put a cable car in so all ages can see the top and charge $50.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why does everyone assume it is a Japanese thing and has nothing to do with the influx of foreign tourists? When I climbed, more than half of the climbers I came across were travelers particularly Chinese and Korean tourists.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow... you can’t even avoid traffic jams on Mt. Fuji in Japan. They probably all moved down with the crowd to their vehicles and spent three hours trying to get out of the parking lot, too.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

That picture is actually true for Fridays to Sundays and National Holidays on the Yoshida Trail.

I have been up 5 times but I didn't go up this year. As the article suggests, I always go on weekdays and there are hardly any people around and actually it is so peaceful and relaxing. Also, another advantage is being able to take wonderful scenery photos without people being in them.

I actually go up on June 30th( the day before the official opening) and you actually mingle with all the media at the summit getting ready to film "Goraikou" (sunrise from the summit).

As ClippetyClop mentioned, it is actually cleaner on the mountain, people are more aware about taking their garbage with them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It’s true! Japanese people live to line up for anything! After living in Japan for many years I’ve been able to find quite a few lovely secluded spots to picnic and/or camp. You won’t find them in tourist brochures and I’m not going to tell you where they are.

That photo of Fuji is ridiculous! I climb (walked) to the top of Fuji a few years ago in early September. It wasn’t busy, but I didn’t find it to be as inspiring or magical as they make it out to be.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Wow! Times sure has changed since I made the hike, about 20 years ago (Yes, I know, too long). However, I still recommend it. The view is definitely breath taking. When I did it, I always took my trash with me.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ahh the tranquility. On mass.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

can you climb during the winter, spring or fall?

The official climbing season ends in mid-September, but you can still climb it well into October as long as you don't mind everything being closed up there. I wouldn't advise tackling it in winter unless you are a serious mountaineer; it's a windblown, vertical ice-rink up there after the first snows.

because of the amount of garbage climbers leave at the top (rivers of it)

It's much cleaner than you'd expect, given the number of visitors. But yes, of course there is some litter flying around. We do our best to keep it clean, we do several pick up drives every year.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Reminds me of climbing the Statue of liberty in the summer. It's just as crowded.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Stupid beyond belief, this should be an EASY FIX, but no, chaos ensues, crazy!!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

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.

I've not bought one since the mid 1990s, but the Lonely Planet guide to Japan had a one-page feature about climbing Fuji which said it was crowded and an ultimately unsatisfying experience. This strikes me as a mini Twitterstorm over something that happens every year.

There is also the Japanese expression,

一度も登らぬ馬鹿に二度登る馬鹿

(baka (=ignorant?) if you never climb it, but baka (=mad?) if you go back to do it again)

which I guess means climbing is the only way to comprehend the scale etc., but the climb has no appeal that would justify doing it again.

I've climbed a number of 2500m plus mountains in Japan, but I can't say Fuji has ever appealed. I might go in 2020 though, because the course of the Olympic road bike race was announced last week and will do a couple of big climbs at the Fuji base. I'd like to see first hand how fast the pros get up one of them. The course looks too hard for Sagan, but Geraint Thomas, Froome, Dumoulin, Bardet, etc. should all come. They all raced at Rio.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No way I'd climb Fuji in that crush. I just read an article elsewhere saying that the two prefectures the two major trails are in - Yamanashi and Shizuoka - were "presenting a plan" limiting the number of climbers in peak season to 4,000 a day on the Yoshida Trail and 2,000 on the Fujinomiya Trail. They say that constitutes a 25% reduction in numbers.

6,000 climbers a day still sounds like too many to me, but what happened to that plan?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

why weekdays are best days to climb

 Wow, what a surprise!! I can't believe it!

Seriously, in Japan, at least in Tokyo and Kyoto, to visit any famous place is always better on weekdays. Not only Japan, though.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Lived in Tokyo 10 years and never even been tempted... After seeing Rocky Mountains I would only be disappointed.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I lived near Fuji-san for a few years. One year my friend from Guam and I planned a hike up the mountain. We drove up to Awakadani, parked, and prepared to climb but first we had a beer. One turned into two and then we decided to take the ferry across the lake. We had a few more beers. Then we boiled some eggs at the sulfur pits and drank another beer. By that time the window had passed but we had a great day anyway with zero regrets.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Did the Yoshida trail climb at night with my dad in August 1986, right after a typhoon blew through.

It was the perfect climb. A decent number of climbers, made it to the top about an hour before dawn, and enjoyed a beautiful sunrise with a cloudless sky.. We could see all the way to Tokyo.

And I did it with my dad. May he rest in peace.

The perfect experience!

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Hahaha what a joke. Glad to have been able to climb it when it wasnt so crowded. Seeing this pic i can safely say "never again"

9 ( +9 / -0 )

can you climb during the winter, spring or fall? I wouldn't mind doing it in sub-zero temps if I can avoid the Tokyo-esque human traffic. I remember UNESCO threatening to remove Fuji-san as a world heritage site because of the amount of garbage climbers leave at the top (rivers of it)

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Ugh, another beautiful place ruined by mass-tourism.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

Cable car.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Could think of nothing worse!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

That looks terrible.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

No thanks.....bad enough getting stuck in normal traffic jams that I am not about to go out of my way to get into one intentionally!

15 ( +15 / -0 )

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