According to recent events, Japan is ready to introduce both a fee and a daily limit on the number of people allowed to climb the iconic Mount Fuji. The local government that controls the famous hiking routes to the top of Japan's Mount Fuji will soon take decisive action to address the growing problems at the iconic mountain.
With existing facilities overwhelmed and injuries and As trash problems grow, the Yamanashi Prefectural Government has imposed an entrance fee and set a daily limit of 4,000 climbers on the popular Yoshida Trail, which will take effect on July 1, the start of the 70-day summer climbing season.
Governor Kotaro Nagasaki said during a conference on December 20 that some rules will be followed. These include restricting climbers from starting trails between 4:00 pm and 2:00 am, as well as introducing fees for maintaining hiking trails and building shelters in case of an eruption. Entrance fees will be determined in February.
The decision to limit the number of climbers and impose a fee has received support from environmental groups and governing bodies concerned with the well-being of Mount Fuji. Tatsuo Nanai, secretary general of the Fuji-san Club, acknowledged the positive and negative aspects of the move.
Although he acknowledged that limiting the number of climbers and imposing fees may discourage some, potentially impacting the local economy, he stressed the urgent need to address problems such as garbage and lack of amenities, including a lack of public toilets and human waste deposits.
Mount Fuji's unique problems go beyond environmental concerns. Safety concerns are paramount: Japan's highest peak exposes climbers to oxygen deprivation and altitude sickness. Many climbers, ill-prepared for the harsh conditions, face danger as temperatures drop below freezing and strong winds blow. Reports of deaths, rockfalls and injuries further highlight the unforgiving nature of Mount Fuji.
Authorities are particularly concerned about “bullet climbing,” a practice in which climbers ascend at night without resting in shelters. This strategy, aimed at reaching the summit before sunrise, poses significant risks due to unpredictable weather conditions and lack of adequate shelter.
Reports add that in the summer of 2023, 221,322 people climbed Mount Fuji , of which 137,236 chose the Yoshida Trail. The government's focus on this route is strategic, aimed at reducing congestion and improving overall safety.
Luke Cummings, co-owner of Fuji Mountain Guides, elaborated on the potential benefits of these measures and expects other prefectures to monitoring alternative routes may adopt similar systems in the future.
As Mount Fuji continues to attract climbers, a balanced approach is critical to ensuring the preservation of its natural beauty and the safety of climbers and sustainable tourism.