Sick of tourists, Japan town blocks view of Mt Fuji

By AFP   May 20, 2024 | 06:12 pm PT
Sick of tourists, Japan town blocks view of Mt Fuji
Tourists take pictures of Mount Fuji from opposite a convenience store in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi prefecture. Photo by AFP
A Japanese town began mounting a large mesh barrier at a popular viewing spot for Mount Fuji on Tuesday, in an attempt to deter photo-taking by an ever-growing number of tourists.

Locals in Fujikawaguchiko say they are fed up with unending streams of mostly foreign visitors littering, trespassing and breaking traffic rules in their hunt for a photo of Japan's most famous sight to share on social media.

Workers began attaching black netting measuring 2.5 by 20 meters (eight by 65 feet) to metal poles on Tuesday morning along a pavement opposite a convenience store, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

Before, visitors would cram the pavement to shoot the snow-capped mountain, which soars majestically into the sky from behind the shop, making for a photogenic juxtaposition.

Local officials and residents have said the town welcomes tourists, but complain that those who cross the street non-stop, ignore red lights, park illegally and smoke outside of designated areas have proved a nuisance.

"It's regrettable we have to do this, because of some tourists who can't respect rules," a town official told AFP in April, saying that traffic signs and warnings from security guards had failed to improve the situation.

The measure is also meant to help a nearby dental clinic where tourists sometimes park without permission and have even been seen climbing on the roof to take pictures.

Construction of the barrier itself was initially delayed due to problems getting the right materials delivered, giving people a few more days to chase the perfect photo.

Online bookings

Record numbers of overseas tourists are coming to Japan, where monthly visitors exceeded three million for the first time in March and then again in April.

But as in other tourist hotspots, such as Venice -- which recently launched a trial of entry fees for day visitors -- the influx has not been universally welcomed.

In Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto, locals have complained of tourists harassing the city's famed geisha.

And hikers using the most popular route to climb Mount Fuji this summer will be charged 2,000 yen ($13) each, with entries capped at 4,000 to ease congestion.

A new online booking system for the mountain's Yoshida trail opened on Monday to guarantee hikers entry through a new gate, although 1,000 places a day will be kept for day-of entries.

Mount Fuji is covered in snow most of the year, but during the July-September hiking season more than 220,000 visitors trudge up its steep, rocky slopes.

Many climb through the night to see the sunrise, and some attempt to reach the 3,776-meter (12,388-foot) summit without breaks and become sick or injured as a result.

Regional officials have raised safety and environmental concerns linked to overcrowding on the active volcano, a symbol of Japan and a once-peaceful pilgrimage site.

Residents near other popular photo spots in the region, including the so-called Fuji Dream Bridge, have also reportedly complained about overtourism in recent weeks.

One tour operator which offers day trips from Tokyo to the Mount Fuji area told AFP they are taking visitors to another Lawson store nearby where a similar view can be seen, but there are fewer nearby residents.

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