It’s not just Mount Everest in the Himalayas and Mont Blanc in the Alps that are overcrowded during the climbing season. Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, is also one of the prestige mountains that more people climb than nature can handle.
If the regional government of Yamanashi Prefecture has its way, no more than 4,000 people per day will be allowed to climb Mount Fuji from next summer onwards. In addition, summit aspirants will have to pay a climbing fee of 2,000 yen (13.50 US dollars) for the 3,776-meter-high volcano. “Keeping the number of climbers in check is an urgent task as we observe overcrowding,” said Yamanashi governor Kotaro Nagasaki, explaining the package of measures, which he intends to submit to the regional parliament this month.
High risk of getting altitude sickness
There are also plans to close access to the summit zone from four o’clock in the afternoon until three o’clock in the morning local time. This is intended to put a stop to so-called “bullet climbing”. This is the attempt to reach the summit in time for sunrise – and in one go, without spending the night in one of the huts on the slopes of Mount Fuji. The result: an even higher risk of getting altitude sickness. According to studies, almost one in three Fuji climbers already suffers from symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).
More than 220,000 ascents in one season
In the past summer season from 1 July to 10 September 2023, the authorities registered a total of more than 220,000 ascents via the four usual routes, more than 60 percent via the popular Yoshida Trail. 3,800 people were “bullet climbers”. Some of them were observed lighting fires on the slopes of the mountain at night.
Mount Fuji also called Fujisan, which is revered as a sacred mountain in the Shinto religion, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013. Visitors are asked to pay 1,000 yen (6.75 dollars) to keep the mountain clean. However, this fee is voluntary and is not paid by everyone. Sad – and disrespectful.