Japan Says Crowds Of Tourists Are Defiling Sacred Mt Fuji
Japan claims crowds of tourists are defiling sacred Mt Fuji. The 12,388-foot summit of Japan has been a source of inspiration for poets and artists, attracting religious individuals to go on perilous pilgrimages down its slopes, and evoking a sense of wonder and reverence.
Companies such as Fuji Film, Fujitsu, and Fuji Xerox derive their names from this entity. There are few mountains globally that possess the level of name recognition as Japan's cone-shaped, dormant volcano.
The significant reputation associated with its name has predictably transformed Mt. Fuji into a popular destination for tourists.
On a dreary, overcast Saturday, a continuous influx of tour buses converges upon a central station situated at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, discharging several international tourists who are sparsely attired. These visitors are greeted by an array of establishments offering souvenirs and dining options.
The depiction of the scenario elicits a portrayal reminiscent of a theme park, which deviates from the reverence often associated with the 3,776-meter (12,388 ft) mountain that holds holy significance for the Japanese people. This mountain, renowned for its impeccably symmetrical shape, serves as a source of national pride.
The attendant at the souvenir store vociferously spoke out to an individual who was attired in shorts and clutching a beverage can, positioned in proximity to the crimson 'torii' gate that serves as a symbolic representation of the entry to the Shinto shrine located in the vicinity.
Hey, no smoking here!- A souvenir store attendant
The iconic Mount Fuji, situated on the border of Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures in eastern Japan, has consistently attracted a significant number of visitors from both domestic and international origins.
Authorities say the recent increase in the number of tourists visiting Japan has resulted in significant environmental degradation and other challenges.
As a potential solution, authorities are considering implementing stringent restrictions, including the possibility of limiting visitor numbers by implementing a tram system that would serve as the exclusive means of accessing the mountain, although this system has not yet been constructed.
During a recent tour for foreign journalists, a representative from the Yamanashi prefecture informed reporters that the trails would be closing for the year, marking the last weekend for visitors to use them.
Fuji faces a real crisis.- Masatake Izumi
It's uncontrollable and we fear that Mt Fuji will soon become so unattractive, that nobody would want to climb it.- Masatake Izumi
Mt Fuji was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site ten years ago, which increased its attractiveness even further. However, the distinction came with the stipulation that Japan minimize congestion, and environmental damage caused by visitors, and repair the artificial landscape, such as enormous parking lots built to accommodate tourists.
However, congestion has gotten worse. "Subaru," the fifth and largest base station, had around 4 million visits this summer, a 50% increase from 2013. Despite the fast rate at which janitors, businesses, and volunteers clean, social media is awash with posts about filthy restrooms and mountains of rubbish along the climbing path.
Izumi is concerned that the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which advises the World Heritage Committee, will arrive at any time to request an update.
Authorities claim "bullet climbing," in which climbers seek to ascend Japan's tallest mountain for sunrise and descend the same day, is also becoming a problem.
According to Shizuoka prefecture police, there were 61 rescue calls this year, up 50% from the previous year, with non-Japanese visitors accounting for a fifth of the total.
According to an official, the majority were ill-equipped, suffering from cold or altitude sickness. Yamanashi police did not have any similar data. According to one local tourist, limits may be unavoidable.
A 62-year-old tourist who arrived on a tour said:
Any Japanese person would want to climb Mt Fuji at least once in their life. But it's so crowded. Limited entry might be something we have to live with.- Jun Shibazaki