Mount Fuji’s new control-gate to limit excessive tourism

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Mount Fuji is undoubtedly an emblem of Japan, attracting tens of thousands of people each year. But now, as tourism continues to re-establish in the post-Covid era, Japanese authorities are taking new measures in anticipation of this year’s climbing season to tackle the growing number of climbers.

A control gate has been installed halfway up Mount Fuji, to control the flow of tourists to the upper parts of the mountain. The barrier closes between the hours of 4 pm and 3 am to prevent spontaneous climbers from ascending the mountain before nightfall, which poses major safety concerns.

“The measures are to address the problems that are putting climbers’ lives at risk […] Overcrowding near the summit could lead to people falling in a domino effect,” the Governor of Yamanashi, Kotaro Nagasaki, where Mount Fuji is located, explained at a news conference.

The new installation means that budding climbers will need to register their hikes in advance, with the choice between a day climb or an overnight stay at one of the mountain huts after the fifth station along the popular Yoshida hiking trail. The gate can only be passed by registered climbers through a QR code sent to their smartphones upon booking an overnight stay.

Besides setting a limit of maximum 4,000 climbers per day in the upper part of the mountain, the gate will also prevent attempts at fast-tracking to the summit. Now, only those who get enough rest, spending a night on the mountain, will be able to hike all the way to the top.

While Yamanashi officials are confident that the new measures will have a positive impact on overtourism and help curb overcapacity between the midpoint of Mount Fuji and its peak at the tenth station, they are still working on curbing overtourism in the lower half of the mountain as well. Blocking the road up to the fifth gate for cars and buses is one of the measures on the table. Instead, public trains will be installed and hiking encouraged more.

A new tolling fee of 2,000 yen (around €11.80) is also being instilled this climbing season, which starts in July, to contribute to the mountain clean-up since, over the years, large amounts of litter have accumulated across the mountain, often in areas far from rubbish bins and bathroom facilities. The fee will also compensate rescue missions for when inexperienced or reckless walkers stray form the designated paths and find themselves in trouble in remote areas.

Another part of the mountain, located in the Shizuoka prefecture, does not presently have any hiking restrictions. However, as of 10 June, climbers have to register in advance and are being advised not to ascend after 4 pm.

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