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Swarms of tourists causing crisis for Mount Fuji

77 Comments
By Mariko Katsumura

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77 Comments

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"a steady stream of tour buses" deposit DOZENS of lightly dressed foreign tourists ???

16 ( +21 / -5 )

we fear that Mt Fuji will soon become so unattractive, nobody would want to climb it," he said.

Unattractive, there always people who'll climb to mount fuji no matter what!

3 ( +20 / -17 )

restricting the number of visitors by making the mountain only accessible by a yet-to-be-built tram system

And how much is that going to cost the taxpayers to build? — while the fees eventually charged are likely used to fund some newly created oversight organization headed by retired politicians and government ministers.

7 ( +25 / -18 )

Right, you all built the stores and restaurants, want people(oooppps JAPANESE PEOPLE) to come, and now you complain.

-9 ( +33 / -42 )

If you want their cash you have to put up with these pests disgusting behaviour.

-16 ( +16 / -32 )

We fear that Mt Fuji will soon become so unattractive, nobody would want to climb it," Masatake Izumi, a Yamanashi Prefecture official, told reporters

But the excessive demand to climb doesn’t support this theory.

Izumi worries that the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which advises the World Heritage Committee, could come knocking any day to ask for an update.

Now, that Izumi’s real fear!

However, only three site have ever been delisted from the World Heritage list, and none for excessive demand or poor upkeep. (e.g., Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was delisted when its wild Arabian oryx population fell to only 11 females, greatly reducing the species’ chances of survival.)

21 ( +27 / -6 )

a steady stream of tour buses arrive at a base station of Japan's Mount Fuji

To access this "base station" that is 2300 meters up (higher than nearly any mountain in Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, western Honshu, and most of Tohoku) it should be noted that ALL buses need to go through a toll gate near the actual mountain base.

So instead of lamenting about how Japan and/or Fuji is a victim of its own success in attracting foreign tourists, they can begin immediately right at that toll gate with limiting the number of buses they let in, and this could easily be expanded further with selling buses their access permits in advance for the season.

Obviously the Come-One-Come-All policy they currently have isn't working, and there is nobody who the Fuji authorities can blame but themselves.

25 ( +32 / -7 )

Whilst Japanese people may consider Fuji venerable, they also specialise in kitsch shops and resetaurants etc that always seem somewhat unbecoming of places of reverence. Clean that act up.

Building massive carparks on the side of a venerated and World heritage mountain is in equally poor taste. Especially seeing most of those using these carparks will be Japanese. Remove them.

25% of the people rescued this year were Foreigners, meaning also that 75% of those rescued were Japanese people who were unprepared for the journey on aforementioned venerated volcano....what is a massive fail by the locals who should know a LOT better. Sort your volcano climbing act out, Japan.

This story is a beat up.

5 ( +30 / -25 )

This globalist mindset is against people people traveling. They want to restrict the movement of people in 15-minute cities.

-14 ( +11 / -25 )

""Swarms of tourists causing crisis for Mount Fuji""

Can't blame the tourists, blame the greedy organizers.

22 ( +30 / -8 )

Almost any other mountain in Japan is better to climb than Mt. Fuji :) I am glad that there are such tourists magnets amongst hundreds of other great places, so we can enjoy the beauty of the nature in a truly relaxing atmosphere.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

Over 254 years, I have travelled all over Japan 

Geez! Ever since 1769! You must have some stories!

31 ( +37 / -6 )

quote: there is nobody who the Fuji authorities can blame but themselves.

Well, they seem to have decided to blame foreign tourists.

Japan has a long history of banning foreigners (and women) from things, so just go ahead and do it. Next year, with no foreign tourists climbing it, there will be complaints about too many Japanese tourists dropping too much litter. Just wait and see.

1 ( +22 / -21 )

What a pathetic piece of journalism. Instead of fostering xenophobic sentiments, it should question the assumptions lamely trotted out here. There are so many holes in the story. Bullet climbing is criticised, but no reasons given, for example. These climbers may not pay for accommodation, but they might also have the least impact. Please use some critical thinking when writing articles rather than meekly repeating others.

23 ( +26 / -3 )

Practical solution. Give everyone who climbs a handbag-style zipped litter bag to take. Charge a deposit. Return the deposit when they return the bag on their way back.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

As others have said, there seems to be no pleasing some of the locals. On one hand they want, need foreign tourists, as Japan has become similar to SE Asian countries of the 70's and 80's. But at the same time, they want them to come, but not climb their mountains, not visit famous sites like Kyoto's Kiyomizudera, don't drink in the streets like the locals do. But still come spend money and enjoy, what?

10 ( +20 / -10 )

This is a typical Japanese way of thinking: let's decrease pollution by pouring even more concrete and steel onto an iconic mountain.

Having experienced being whisked up other mountains in Japan on similar gondola like structures and their associated environmental impact, I vote "No" to the tram plan.

Really serious about reducing tourism on the mountain? Immediately remove all road access and let people hike up if they wish to.

8 ( +20 / -12 )

"Any Japanese person would want to climb Mount Fuji at least once in their life,"

I think my wife is unaware of this sentiment. She'd wait 20 minutes for a lift to the next floor.

20 ( +22 / -2 )

soiled bathrooms and mounds of litter along the climbing path.

This is not a new problem. I climbed it in 2003 and this is how I remember it and bear in mind this is way before the big wave of tourists. I have to agree with Nihon Enigma's experience.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

I’ve never understood the attraction of walking or climbing up Mt. Fuji. Any reverence and attraction for me comes from looking at it. Katsushika Hokusai didn’t make his thirty-six views from Fuji-san after all, did he? You don’t go to New York and see the cityscape from the Empire State Building? Surely any view of any famous place such as this must include the place itself?

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Obviously the answer is a chain of VR/AI indoor Fuji san climbing experience centers A continuously moving inclined walkway with boulders and discarded styrofoam and plastic on the sides.

The weather and time of day can be adjusted. The indoor route has a serpentine path through different sections.

"Oh look! A takoyaki stand! Let's stop and eat!"

"Oh look! A Mr. Donut! Let's have a donut and coffee!"

You reach the summit and you're inside a giant dome with a 360 degree projection. Time to eat again! Winds whip through the room randomly, a few sprinkles of rain and wispy clouds blow across your table.

"Oh look! Ice cream!"

4 ( +13 / -9 )

JolyonToday  07:54 am JST

What a pathetic piece of journalism. Instead of fostering xenophobic sentiments, it should question the assumptions lamely trotted out here. There are so many holes in the story. Bullet climbing is criticised, but no reasons given, for example. These climbers may not pay for accommodation, but they might also have the least impact.

Indeed

Please use some critical thinking when writing articles rather than meekly repeating others.

In Japan?

Personally i find the mountain more impressive viewed from a distance

This is correct, but don't let people know.

Guessing from the downvotes 

Vote system is terrible here, I wish it was removed.

-5 ( +17 / -22 )

Obviously the answer is a chain of VR/AI indoor Fuji san climbing experience centers A continuously moving inclined walkway with boulders and discarded styrofoam and plastic on the sides.

The weather and time of day can be adjusted. The indoor route has a serpentine path through different sections.

"Oh look! A takoyaki stand! Let's stop and eat!"

"Oh look! A Mr. Donut! Let's have a donut and coffee!"

You reach the summit and you're inside a giant dome with a 360 degree projection. Time to eat again! Winds whip through the room randomly, a few sprinkles of rain and wispy clouds blow across your table.

"Oh look! Ice cream!"

Needs more announcements.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Troubles and problems are few, and do concern less than 1% of hikers. But TV crews have been trying to pick up troubles caused by foreigners. This is clear on every TV news program I have seen.

If you have the legs, climb from Gotemba, a very long route but not crowded,

FujiYoshida trail is for the off season.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Needs more announcements.

Mamonaku, takoyaki ga mairimasu. Abunai deskara...

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

I never understood the appeal of Mt Fuji. Over 254 years, I have travelled all over Japan but never once felt the desire to go to My Fuji and all those people and rubbish.

Most Japanese see it as a spirirual life goal to make a pilgrimage to climb Fuji-san - in a similar way that Muslims have a goal to visit Mecca once.

The only way to manage things will probably be to limit the climbers to a set number per day - perhaps 1000 - and raise the climbing fee.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Excuse my ignorance on the subject.

”Bullet-climbing”. You mean people climb in the dark night hours to get to the top before sunrise? Do they camp or something at the fifth station, or - OMG - go right from the bottom to the top?

Western travellers: For many, if there’s a mountain they just gotta climb it. Even if much more beautiful from a distance, they don’t care.

I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but if people on here know of altercations between “foreigners” and Japanese, I’d like to hear of them. Just interested. Must be quite a few by now.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Just checked temperature difference between Tokyo at Mt. Fuji summit.

At 9:00 AM today, Tokyo is 30C ( 86F). On the Mt. Fuji summit, it’s 9C ( 48F). That’s a big difference. But for a lot of western tourists, they don’t care. They like shorts and T-shirts anyway. But use JMA ( Japan Meteorological) site. Don’t depend on some daffy ( “at this time of year in” blah blah) international weather site.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

The マイカー規制 private car restrictions on the Subaru Line end at 6pm today. After that anyone can drive a car up there. It's a good few weeks to climb it if you have the chance.

'Bullet Climbers', formerly known as 'climbers' are the new enemy here. I did three 'bullet climb' tours this summer on the Yoshida trail. All the yamagoyas were fully booked, so there was no option to do it any other way. I made sure my guests all had kit suitable for the climb, it wasn't a problem. I've been bullet climbing for 15 years.

As for the queues to get to the top, the yamagoya customers all add to this as they all pile onto the upper trail after 2am. Get up there earlier and take a flask of Bovril.

Check out the shrieking banner warnings on the Subaru Line website here

http://subaruline.jp/

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Katase Higashihama Beach near Enoshima is covered in drink cans, cigarette buts, and plastic bags from the locals. 

100% right. A few years back, my father in law was visiting Australia and made the observation that everything is so clean, and the beaches are pristine. He wanted to know who has cleaning everything up?

I explained that people generally don't litter because there is a culture of caring about the natural environment and public recreation spaces. He was hugely impressed. Loved it.

0 ( +20 / -20 )

This article and the people interviewed for it lack common sense and intelligence.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

In the USA reservations must be made in advance to visit many popular National Parks same should be done for Mount Fuji.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

If there are so many tourists visiting Fuji san then the tour companies should pay more for parking which can be used to pay for more cleaning-simple isn’t it?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Somehow I just knew they would find a way to blame foreign tourists. You opened up the damn thing to gouge as much money out of anyone that you could find. Now you want to bitch about tourists and this article adds the obligatory scene where the vendor is barking at a foreign tourists about smoking as if the foreigners are the only ones causing problems. Well, you asked for it but let me add some more: I first climbed Mt. Fuji in the late 1990s and at that time the VAST majority of tourists I saw were Japanese and it was filthy with garbage back then, nasty toilets, way overpriced drinks, food and lodging, not to mention horse manure all over the routes from the fifth station. The garbage didn't just show up when more foreigners started showing up. Curb your own runaway greed and you can start to make the place actually presentable as a world heritage site.

-6 ( +14 / -20 )

I did my 8th trip up earlier in the season and I’ve never done anything BUT bullet climbing. I start about 9:30, summit and down for the bus home.

(It’s taking longer the older I get).

On the way down, I see large tour groups going up and some of them are woefully under equipped. I meant wife-beater T-shirts and flip-flops. I am not a serious mountaineer, but for the love of God, what are the guides doing?

(There are others who are obviously in no physical condition to climb. For anyone who hasn’t, it’s not technically difficult, but it IS steep and physically tiring. If you think you’re going for a stroll, you are mistaken.)

I think there should be a Minimum Equipment List and a check at the gate. No proper shoes, no climb (rentals available). No “cool weather” gear, no climb (again, rentals available).

Another possibility would be to require advance registration to be ticked off with a photo ID.

Conversely, the authorities could just lighten up and ramp up their support infrastructure via a raised climbing fee.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

I think there should be a Minimum Equipment List and a check at the gate. No proper shoes, no climb (rentals available). No “cool weather” gear, no climb (again, rentals available).

The chaps at the 6th station on the Yoshida trail are supposed to check that and pull people up if they aren't properly attired. Weren't they there?

Conversely, the authorities could just lighten up and ramp up their support infrastructure via a raised climbing fee.

Agreed, but then you'll have some people scrambling up the scree to get around it.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I climbed Fujisan twice. The first time there were practically no tourists but still plenty of people. Our hut was packed. It was 2011 after the Fukushima reactor drove everyone away. I took a trash bag with me, but didn't see a single scrap of trash. Not sure what that says.

I also saw plenty of people lightly dressed for the climb, but most had the right gear.

To avoid crowds, I recommend going in mid July, but I would dress warmer than you would for going skiing in the winter lower down. Freaking cold at the top! Especially if you go on July 1, like I did.

Not so bad when I climbed in August and was actually in short sleeves for an hour at the top.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Time for Japan to promote a different mountain.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Our local beach is spotless.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Climbed the Mt. Fuji just after covid restrictions were lifted and there was almost nobody. Didn't need to make reservation to stay at station 10 and the view was great. No mass of people and just a relaxing sun set and sun rise.

Although I got sick but never regret it.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Climbed it thirty-two years ago. Once is definitely enough!

Being overrun with gangs of thrill-seeking tourists makes Fuji-San something of a bellwether for the entire nation….

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The chaps at the 6th station on the Yoshida trail are supposed to check that and pull people up if they aren't properly attired. Weren't they there?

They were there handing out flyers.

Maybe I’m just too KY to notice but they didn’t seem to be checking us out for proper wear.

Perhaps they were just being subtle.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They really need a “hotel of last resort” at the 5th station.

This year I climbed with a friend and we were slower than I expected (I’m not in my early 40’s anymore…).

The last scheduled bus left as I was literally running to it (and that took a LOT of will at that point).

No biggie, I’ll just hop in this cab.

“We’re reserved”

Can you call me another?

”Gate at the bottom is closed. Nothing can get up.”

Oh. Um, how can I get down from here?

“You can walk (another 13km) or you can rent a horse ,for around 30k each)”

So I was just getting ready to hunker down for the night in the indoor rest area in my sweat impregnated clothes, when miraculously a charter bus appeared with seats and a willingness to accept cash payment.

But they really need a hotel of last resort or barring that, an actual way off the mountain beyond the stated bus times.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Really serious about reducing tourism on the mountain? Immediately remove all road access and let people hike up if they wish to.

That’s a ripper of an idea. I once walked down from the summit on the Fuji-Five-Lakes side and found the forested base nice walking. Maybe the ruined jinja at the bottom can be rebuilt.

The downside would be having to expand the facilities at other rest areas on the climb. To the summit and down in one day is impractical.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Instead of 'OK Boomer' this is another of those 'OK Japan' moments. A crisis? LOL, the only crisis is the inability of various Japanese authorities to regulate tourism. That's all.

Japan make the rules - make some rules. Shut off turn up as you like access and have pre-booking online. I don't know any country where tourists make the rules. It's up to the host country.

In Australia the Aboriginal people local to Ayers Rock/Uluru made a decision to bar tourists from climbing the rock for a number of reasons including it is their sacred space and some dumbos who wanted to climb it kept having to get rescued because they shouldn't have been doing it in the first place. The relevant Government authority fully booked them.

Result - no tourists climb Uluru. What is so defiicent in Japanese authorities' mentality that they always have to hand wring and blame non Japanese for their own failure to behave logically and efficiently?

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

I meant to write the local Government 'fully backed them' meaning the Aboriginal people when they made plans to regulate tourists at Uluru. The Japanese authorities would rather keep buck passing.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

And Japanese hikers are notorious for getting lost and needing rescue all over Japan.

Hence having to literally pay for someone to come and rescue them.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Just cycling the length of Japan, south to north and today I am in Asahikawa. I have cycled several countries in Asia and Europe. The amount of trash alongside the streets and especially the few bike lanes along the rivers in Japan is the biggest I have seen so far during my journeys. If there is a sign not to dump your trash, you can be sure to see a huge pile. And I have seen perhaps twenty foreigners on bikes taking the same roads up to now. In my opinion Japan has a huge trash problem along roads and if you ask me it is mostly not coming from foreigners.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

As more and more foreign tourists visit these shores, the Japanese will start to realize how poor they have become and therefore they will become more and more resentful to foreigners who enjoy long holidays, unheard of over here, while at the same time dropping tons of cash as the yen continues its freefall.

-16 ( +5 / -21 )

”Swarms”…..

Tourists = mosquitoes, locusts, or bees???

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Swarms? Barked? Are we talking about insects and animals? Never had an interest in doing this just to check a box.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wouldnt go to the MtFuji on a rainy cloudy day, where there are tons of people around... id rather go to a mount somewhere far away

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan build shops, restaurants, and huge bus parking lots on MT. Fuji so they could pile the tourists on the mountain. To say they want to reduce pollution caused by tourists now shows a huge lack of planning to begin with.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Why not go climb mountain Everest. Fuji is sleeping mega volcano never to know when it wakes up

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

Nihon Enigma

I never understood the appeal of Mt Fuji. Over 254 years, I have travelled all over Japan but never once felt the desire to go to My Fuji and all those people and rubbish.

I know the Japanese are known for their long lives but 254 years really. What was your secret?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

An incompetently managed tourist trap.

There appears a total lack of forethought has given way to a culture of blame the tourist.

Kyoto is suffering the same malaise.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Most Japanese don't climb mount Fuji, because it's a mountain that looks beautiful when you view it from a far. In other words, we're literally "product dumping" it, the product is "climb mount Fuji".

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Climbed up in four hours 38 years ago and down the same day in 3 hours. Actually not fun. Plus got rained on at the top. The best part is a wide-angle photo at the top drinking tea with my buddy and nobody else in the photo.

By the way, it is nowhere perfectly symmetrical from any view.

If you want a bucket list, walk a marathon in Japan and map it out first to see some great stuff. Tough on the mind, but the walking part is easy.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That photo blows me away. You mean there's a village at the fifth stage of the climb? That's not mountain climbing.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I agree that Mount Fuji view is beautiful from far away. In 2021 I stayed in the five lakes region and had a wonderful time seeing Fujisan from several different points of view. It is a surprise that local authorities do not have a proper planning to receive visitors, it is a shame. Hope that clever and responsible people be hired to address this challenge, to welcome tourists from all over the world to see the must see place in Japan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Then. Oh no! We have no tourists bringing money in. Crisis.

Now. Oh no! Tourist are coming and bringing money in. Crisis.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@Trevor

Not on the picture, but they also have ponies you can ride at the 5th station.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I only have plans to climb Mt Fuji once in my life. And even then, I will only consider taking one of the lesser travelled trails (Gotemba Trail or Subashiri Trail), as they receive far less numbers of climbers in comparison to the Yoshida Trail and Fujinomiya Trail.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

as they receive far less numbers of climbers in comparison to the Yoshida Trail and Fujinomiya Trail.

I highly recommend the Fujinomiya trail, and the Hoei crater diversion. For me it has always been the best daytime route, although it is a roasting climb.

The finest course though is the Lake Shoji Tozando. 8 hours of stunning ancient forest trails before you emerge at the 5th station for the last push with the rest of the climbers. Exhausting but exhilerating, the full Fuji experience.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I’ve been to FujiKyu Highlander but not up Fuji.

One more reason to not do it

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Most countries would be happy to have "swarms" of tourists. Not Japan. I climbed Fuji in 2016, took the Gotemba Trail. There was hardly anybody on that route. Still have my stamped hiking stick too. I take it on all my hiking trips now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I climbed Mount Fuji five times in 2023. I climbed each of the four trails. There is virtually no trash on the trails.

I first climbed Fuji back in 2008, and I was shocked by the huge number of people and the theme park-like sight that greeted me when I arrived at the Yoshida 5th Station. That said, it was a great experience.

The Yoshida 5th Station doesn't seem to be as busy as in past years. The apparent number of climbers is still below the peak of a few years ago. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/729744/mount-fuji-mountaineer-number-japan/)

More should be done to help prevent inexperienced climbers from getting themselves into trouble. Fuji should probably also be protected from overcommercialization.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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