Japan’s Mount Fuji ‘screaming’ from too many vacationers trekking up the volcano


With its tens of millions of tourists yearly and the buses, provide vans, noodle outlets and fridge magnets, Japan‘s Mount Fuji is now not the peaceable pilgrimage web site it as soon as was.

People gather after watching the sunrise from the summit of Mount Fuji, some 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of the capital Tokyo. Japanese authorities are gearing up to impose crowd control measures for the first time on Mount Fuji this weekend for an expected holiday rush by thousands of sometimes ill-prepared trekkers. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)
Folks collect after watching the dawn from the summit of Mount Fuji, some 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of the capital Tokyo. Japanese authorities are gearing as much as impose crowd management measures for the primary time on Mount Fuji this weekend for an anticipated vacation rush by hundreds of typically ill-prepared trekkers. (Picture by Philip FONG / AFP)

Now authorities have had sufficient, saying the variety of hikers trekking up the world-famous volcano — evening and day — is harmful and an ecological embarrassment.

“Mount Fuji is screaming,” the governor of the native area mentioned final week.

Hailing its spiritual significance and its inspiration to artists, in 2013 UNESCO added the “internationally acknowledged icon of Japan” to its World Heritage Checklist.

However as has occurred in locations comparable to Bruges in Belgium or Rio de Janeiro’s Sugarloaf Mountain, the designation has been each a blessing and a curse.

Customer numbers greater than doubled between 2012 and 2019 to five.1 million, and that is only for Yamanashi prefecture, the principle start line.

– Day and evening –

It isn’t simply throughout the day {that a} stream of individuals trudges by the black volcanic grit on their method up the three,776-metre (12,388-foot) mountain.

At evening, lengthy strains of individuals — on their method as much as see the solar rise within the morning — trek upwards with torches on their heads.

The principle starting-off level is a carpark that may solely be reached by taxi or buses that take a few hours from Tokyo, round 100 kilometres (60 miles) away.

Greeting guests is a posh of eating places and outlets promoting souvenirs in addition to snacks and drinks for walkers earlier than they set off.

They’re powered by diesel mills and the hundreds of litres of water they use needs to be introduced up in lorries. Vans additionally take all of the garbage down.

“I noticed loads of meals waste and empty bottles of drinks mendacity across the hand-washing space of the bathroom,” complained Japanese hiker Yuzuki Uemura, 28.

– Risks –

Masatake Izumi, a neighborhood official, mentioned the excessive numbers of individuals elevated the danger of accidents.

Some individuals who climb at evening “get hypothermia and need to be taken again to first support stations”, he advised AFP.

At the very least one individual has died to date this season.

For an non-obligatory entry payment of 1,000 yen ($6.80), guests get a booklet in Japanese — there’s a QR code for the English model — with some dos and don’ts.

However some do not realise how robust the five-to-six-hour climb is to the highest, the place oxygen ranges are decrease and the place the climate can change rapidly.

“It is nearly winter up there, it is actually chilly,” Rasyidah Hanan, a 30-year-old hiker from Malaysia, advised AFP on her method down.

“Folks needs to be filtered somewhat bit as a result of some folks weren’t able to climb Mount Fuji. They have been like in actually mild garments… A few of them actually regarded sick.”

– Crowd management –

As vacationer numbers get again to pre-pandemic ranges, it isn’t solely Mount Fuji whose returning crowds have authorities frightened.

This week authorities ministers met to debate measures to sort out what Kenji Hamamoto, a senior Japan Tourism Company official, referred to as “overcrowding and breaches of etiquette” throughout closely touristed websites.

For Mount Fuji, authorities introduced final month that they might impose crowd management measures for the primary time if paths obtained too busy.

The announcement alone had an impact and ultimately no such measures have been taken, Izumi mentioned.

Customer numbers are anticipated to be down barely this yr from 2019, however in 2024 they may rise once more as vacationers — notably from China — return.

Yamanashi’s governor Kotaro Nagasaki mentioned final week Japan wanted to take measures to make sure Mount Fuji didn’t lose its UNESCO designation.

One resolution, he mentioned, could possibly be setting up a light-weight rail system to exchange the principle highway resulting in the principle start line for hikers.

“We firmly imagine that with regard to Mount Fuji tourism, a shift from a amount method to a top quality one is important,” Nagasaki mentioned.

“I feel that Mount Fuji is likely one of the issues that makes Japan proud,” mentioned Marina Someya, 28, a Japanese hiker.

“There are lots of people, and many foreigners.”

This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content. Solely the headline has been modified.


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