The iconic Mt. Fuji is expected to be added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage this month. Yamanashi and Shizuoka officials also expect a heavy traffic in Japan’s iconic mountain. Climbing season will soon begin and with Mt. Fuji’s upcoming status, more hikers are expected to swarm the mountain.
Fujisan, as what it is locally called, attracts about 300,000 climbers a year, usually in the months of July and August, according to the Ministry of the Environment. The number of climbers may also greatly increase with the anticipated status of the 3,776 metre summit. Officials expect 350,000 climbers this year. The large number of climbers worries Yamanashi Governor Shomei Yokouchi about serious accidents, saying such “would undermine the mood of celebration.”
A lot of people climb Fujisan on weekends, making the traffic jam concentrated on Saturdays and Sundays. “If possible, we want to limit the number of climbers, but that is legally difficult,” said the Yamanashi Governor. The prefecture is currently trying to find ways how to encourage climbers to mount Fujisan during weekdays instead of weekends.
Besides the heavy traffic of Fujisan, officials are also concern with the climbers’ safety. Some climbers embark on dangan tozan or “bullet climbing,” an attempt to overcome the 3,776-metre mountain overnight. To prevent bullet or speed climbing, which is a common offer among tour companies, the Fujiyoshida Municipal Government proposed to have the Fuji Subaru Line, a road leading to the mountain, closed at night. But without legal basis, officials have to resort to another proposition. Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures suggest a 1,000 yen (approx. 10.40 US dollars) entrance fee, but Fujiyoshida Mayor Shigeru Horiuchi thinks that a 10,000 yen (103 dollars) charge would be more effective. Officials have also considered charging climbers for the mountain’s environmental maintenance.