Japan blocks iconic Mount Fuji view to stop bad behaviour by tourists

Authorities in a Japanese town completed the installation of a large mesh barrier on Tuesday that blocks off the view of Mount Fuji, a deliberate move to discourage badly-behaved tourists from taking photos at the spot.

Frustrated locals have for years complained about foreign visitors to Fujikawaguchiko littering, trespassing and breaking traffic rules in pursuit of the perfect photo of the iconic stratovolcano.

The spot in question offers a view of the perennially snow-capped mountain soaring above a Lawson’s convenience store. Residents say the large numbers who flock to the spot often park illegally or block other pedestrians from using the pavement.

The black netting used to cover the view measures 20m by 2.5m.

“I hope that the net will prevent dangerous activities,” resident Michie Motomochi, 41, who runs a traditional Japanese sweet shop in Fujikawaguchiko, told the AFP news agency.

“I think it’s disappointing that they are putting it up. It’s obviously an iconic shot,” said Christina Roys, 36, a tourist from New Zealand.

“But it’s completely understandable. We were here last night, managing to get the last shot before they were putting up the wall, and there were so many people,” she said.

Workers in the city of Fujikawaguchiko built a screen to dissuade tourists from taking photos of Mount Fuji (Anadolu via Getty Images)

The netting is also intended to provide some respite to the nearby Ibishi Dental Clinic, where tourists would park without permission and even climb onto the roof for photos, reported The Japan Times.

“It became not uncommon for people to shout insults at us or to throw away their cigarettes while they were still lit when we asked them to move their cars,” the clinic told CNN in a statement.

Fujikawaguchiko is a Japanese resort town in the Yamanashi prefecture, about 100km west of Tokyo.

A worker installs a black shading net on the opposite side of the Lawson Kawaguchiko Ekimae convenience store in Fujikawaguchiko (EPA)

Travellers have returned in huge numbers to Japan since it reopened to foreign tourists following the pandemic lockdown, with more than three million per month visiting in March and April 2024 – a new record, and part of a trend that seems likely to continue.

While poorly behaved tourists are a problem in many popular tourist destinations around the world – Venice has begun charging day visitors a five-euro entry fee and Greece has capped the number of visitors to the famed Acropolis in Athens– the particular issue for Fujikawaguchiko is that people typically only come into the small town for a day trip to take a photo at that particular spot. Tourists then tend to return to Tokyo, which means that Fujikawaguchiko’s local economy doesn’t significantly benefit from the visitors.

“I’ve seen people walk into roads, people using electronic [scooters] without following traffic rules and getting into accidents. There have been many accidents involving foreign tourists recently,” Haruhito Tsuchiya, a 49-year-old local who works in the tourism industry, told Reuters.

A tourist poses for a photo of Mount Fuji appearing over a convenience store after a barrier to block the popular tourist spot was installed, in Fujikawaguchiko (REUTERS)
Tourists crowding the pavement to take pictures of Mount Fuji from opposite a convenience store in the town of Fujikawaguchiko (AFP via Getty Images)

The town decided to put up the mesh in April, after signs and security guards failed to deter tourists.

“It is regrettable that we had to take such measures,” an official had said at the time.

“Overtourism – and all the subsequent consequences like rubbish, rising CO2 emissions and reckless hikers – is the biggest problem facing Mount Fuji,” Masatake Izumi, a Yamanashi prefectural government official, had said to CNN last year.

Authorities have also started a new online booking system for the Yoshida trail on Mount Fuji, capping daily hiker entries to 4,000 and imposing a mandatory fee of 2,000 yen.

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