Tourists required to book to climb Mount Fuji as Japan struggles with over-tourism

Tourists required to book to climb Mount Fuji as Japan struggles with over-tourism
  • PublishedMay 24, 2024

People wanting to climb an iconic trail on Mount Fuji will need to book in advance and pay a fee, as one of the most iconic volcanoes in the world struggles with over-tourism and littering.

Officials in Japan are also introducing the new measures because of concerns people are “bullet climbing” to the summit and putting fellow climbers at risk.

The Yamanashi prefecture said in a statement on Monday it introduced new rules for the climbing season from July 1 to September 10 for those hiking the Yoshida Trail on the 3,776-meter-high mountain, designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2013.

Only 4,000 climbers will be allowed to enter the trail per day: 3,000 slots will be available for online booking at a fee of 2,000 yen (about $20), and the remaining 1,000 can be booked in person on the day of the climb.

Mount Fuji is divided into 10 stations, and there are four “5th stations” halfway up the mountain from where the four trails — the Yoshida, Fujinomiya, Subashiri, and Gotemba — start to the top.

Under the new system, climbers need to choose whether they will do a day hike or stay overnight at the several available huts across the trail.

Once they input their information and the day of the climb, they are given a QR code to be scanned at the 5th station.

Authorities said those who have not booked an overnight hut will be sent back down and not allowed to climb between 4pm and 3am, mainly to stop climbers who rush to the summit without adequate rest, raising safety concerns.

Climbers can book their slots via Mount Fuji Climbing’s official website, jointly run by the Environment Ministry and Mount Fuji’s two home prefectures, Yamanashi and Shizuoka.

A climber wearing a green backpack looks at a mountain that has cast its shadow on clouds below
Mount Fuji is one of the most iconic tourism destinations in Japan.(AP Photo: Jae C. Hong, File)

Yamanashi Governor Kotaro Nagasaki thanked people for their understanding and cooperation in helping conserve Mount Fuji.

The Shizuoka prefecture south-west of Mount Fuji, where climbers can also access the mountain, has sought a voluntary 1,000-yen ($10) fee per climber since 2014 and is considering additional ways to balance tourism and environmental protection.

Japan’s Environment Ministry said the number of Mount Fuji climbers during the season in 2023 totalled 221,322.

The announcement came just as a town in Shizuoka was to set up a huge black screen on a sidewalk to block a view of Mount Fuji because of tourists overcrowding the area to take photos.

Over-tourism has also become a growing issue at other popular tourist destinations such as Kyoto and Kamakura as foreign visitors have flocked to Japan in droves since the coronavirus pandemic restrictions were lifted, in part due to the weaker yen.

Last year, Japan had more than 25 million visitors and the figures in 2024 are expected to surpass nearly 32 million, a record from 2019, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.


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