A surge in demand for rest cabins on Mount Fuji has led Japanese officials to call for crowd control measures, including possible restrictions on access during this summer’s climbing season.
Local authorities and tourism associations near the famous volcano warned that an “unprecedented” number of people were expected to climb its steep, symmetrical slopes this year.
They expressed safety concerns in a petition filed Monday with the governor of the Yamanashi region, which is home to the sacred mountain’s most popular hiking trail.
Crowds may be larger than usual due to the easing of Covid restrictions, including the return of foreign tourists, and the 10th anniversary of the summit’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Judging by the current status of reservations for nearby cabins, we estimate that there will be an unprecedented number of hikers on Mount Fuji this summer,” the petition reads.
Covered in snow most of the year, Japan’s tallest mountain is open to climbers from July to September – drawing hundreds of thousands who often trek through the night to see the sunrise.
Those unable to book a mountain cabin could climb straight to the top without stopping to rest, which “could increase the risk of altitude sickness and hypothermia,” the group of officials warned.
If the number exceeds a certain limit, access restrictions should be considered “even for just a short time,” they said, without specifying what the maximum should be.
Busy pathways also increase the risk of falling rocks, an official from Fujiyoshida city, one of the six municipalities behind the petition, told AFP on Tuesday.
“We are all concerned that this year’s mountaineering season will create a terrible situation,” said the official, who declined to be named.
She said she was particularly concerned that tourists from abroad, who are not necessarily aware of Mount Fuji’s treacherous nature, may climb the summit unprepared.
“We really want them to be careful. There are deaths every year,” she said.
“It’s not that easy, climbing Mount Fuji.”
The 3,776-meter (12,388-foot) active volcano is about a two-hour train ride from central Tokyo.
But it can be seen for miles and has been immortalized in countless Japanese artworks, including Hokusai’s world-famous “Great Wave.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)