Curtain comes down on Mount Fuji for tourists from Japan

A worker installs a barrier to block the view of Mount Fuji emerging from behind a convenience store in the city of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Tuesday. KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP

FUJIKAWAGUCHIKO, Japan — A Japanese city installed a large mesh barrier Tuesday at a popular Mount Fuji viewing spot, in an attempt to discourage a growing number of tourists from taking photographs.

Japan’s most famous sight can be seen for miles around, but Fujikawaguchiko locals are fed up with the streams of mostly foreign visitors littering, trespassing and violating traffic rules in their quest for a photo to Share in social networks.

Parking illegally and ignoring the smoking ban, they would crowd the sidewalk to photograph the snow-capped mountain, rising photogenically into the sky from behind a convenience store, residents said.

“I’m very happy that foreigners are coming to our city,” said Kikue Katsumata, 73, a lifelong resident of Fujikawaguchiko. “But when it comes to taking pictures from Lawson, the road is a little narrow and it can be dangerous when people run across without using a crosswalk.”

Workers began placing the 2.5-by-20-meter black net on Tuesday and were finished by late morning, an Agence France-Presse journalist at the scene said.

“I think it’s disappointing that they’re showing it. It’s obviously an iconic photo,” said Christina Roys, 36, a tourist from New Zealand.

“But it’s completely understandable. We were here last night, managing to get the last shot before they put up the wall, and there were so many people.”

March and April set all-time records for visitor arrivals, which have been boosted by pent-up demand after the pandemic and the yen’s fall to a 34-year low has made Japan an irresistible bargain. That’s been good news for the economy, as travelers spent a record $11.2 billion in the first three months of this year, according to the tourism agency.

But as in other tourist spots, such as Venice in Italy, which recently launched an entrance fee trial for day visitors, the influx has not been universally welcomed.

In Kyoto, Japan’s former capital, locals have complained that tourists harass the city’s famous geishas.

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

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

Many climb during the night to see the sunrise and some attempt to reach the 3,776 meter summit without interruption, resulting in illness or injury.

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

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

A tour operator offering day trips from Tokyo to the Mount Fuji area told AFP they take visitors to another nearby Lawson store where a similar view can be enjoyed, but there are fewer nearby residents.

Agencies via Xinhua