Mt. Fuji climbers to face 2,000 yen fees from summer as tourism rises

Climbers ascending Mt. Fuji from the most commonly used trail in Yamanashi Prefecture will be charged 2,000 yen ($13) from this summer to ease congestion at the landmark mountain and to fund safety measures, a local government source said Thursday.

The move comes amid growing concerns over unsafe climbing practices such as "bullet climbing," or trying to reach the summit of Japan's tallest peak for sunrise in one go without sleeping overnight on the mountain.

With visitors to the volcano, straddling Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, continuing to surge, other issues have also emerged such as hikers dressing too lightly and litter building up.

The fees will be collected at a gate to be installed at the 5th station of the Yoshida Trail on the Yamanashi Prefecture side of the mountain, which can be accessed by buses and taxis.

The 3,776-meter mountain trail is broken into 10 stages, with the summit marking the 10th station.

The revenues will be used to take measures to prevent bullet climbing and to build a shelter in case the mountain erupts, among other steps, according to the source.

The planned charges would be separate from the 1,000 yen climbers are currently asked to pay voluntarily in the name of supporting the upkeep of the mountain.

The prefectural government plans to propose the toll fee plan to the assembly this month, the source said.

The mountain, designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2013, has been a popular tourist destination.

The number of people who passed the 8th station of Mt. Fuji from any of its four different routes reached 221,322 during the climbing season last summer, around the same level as 2019 before the spread of the coronavirus, according to the Environment Ministry.

More than 60 percent, or 137,236 of them, used the Yoshida Trail, it said.

In August, the Yamanashi prefectural government said it would restrict the number of hikers who can use the Yoshida Trail to climb to the summit if overcrowding poses a danger. So far no restrictions have been imposed.

In December, it said it will close the trail between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. during this year's climbing season between July 1 and Sept. 10 excluding those who have prior reservations to stay at huts, to prevent bullet climbers. It also said that climbers would be capped at 4,000 per day.

© Kyodo News