With its millions of visitors every year and the buses, supply trucks, noodle shops and fridge magnets, Japan’s Mount Fuji is no longer the peaceful pilgrimage site it once was.
Now authorities have had enough, saying the number of hikers trekking up the world-famous volcano — night and day — is dangerous and an ecological embarrassment.
“Mount Fuji is screaming,” the governor of the local region said last week. Hailing its religious importance and its inspiration to artists, in 2013 UNESCO added the “internationally recognized icon of Japan” to its World Heritage List.
But as has happened in places such as Bruges in Belgium or Rio de Janeiro’s Sugarloaf Mountain, the designation has been both a blessing and a curse.
Visitor numbers more than doubled between 2012 and 2019 to 5.1 million, and that’s just for Yamanashi prefecture, the main starting point.
It’s not just during the day that a stream of people trudges through the black volcanic grit on their way up the 3,776-metre (12,388-foot) mountain.—INP