Famous Mt. Fuji Photo Spot Will Be Draped Over Due to Overtourism

Famous Mt. Fuji Photo Spot Will Be Draped Over Due to Overtourism

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Mt. Fuji and Lawson
Picture: interstid / Shutterstock
This is why we can't have nice things: an influx of tourism is forcing officials to close off an iconic picture spot of Mt. Fuji.

With people from around the world rushing to visit Japan, many famous tourist spots are struggling with overcrowding and litter. Now, overtourism claims another victim as officials in Yamanashi prefecture say they’re closing off an iconic photo spot.

Curtains Closing on Lawson Looking

Picture: kazuphoto / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

If you follow Japan news coverage, you’ve likely seen this spot before. Heck, you may even have passed this spot or taken a spot there yourself. The spot in the center of Yamanashi’s Fujikawaguchiko enables visitors to snap a photo of Japan’s mountain looming over a Lawson convenience store. It’s an iconic shot capturing two Japanese icons: Mt. Fuji and combinis.

However, it’s also become a major headache for locals. Residents say the area is so crowded that they fear driving through it, as picture takers and others cross the road illegally (or take shots from the road itself). Pedestrians say the sidewalk is so crowded they can’t pass through. Like another famous tourist spot – the famous shot of the Enoden train near Kamakura – the site’s tourist popularity is interfering with daily life.

Despite putting up signs in multiple languages asking people to follow the rules, infractions – and complaints – haven’t let up. As a result, town officials say they’ll set up a vinyl black curtain, some 20 meters long and 2.5 meters high, to black out the area. They also plan to erect a fence along the road to prevent people from crossing illegally.

Officials say they’ll have the curtain installed by May 2nd. Given that the coming week is Japan’s famous Golden Week holiday, I expect we’ll see a crush of visitors trying to squeeze in to get one last shot before the area’s blocked off for good.

Mt. Fuji’s ongoing tourism headaches

Mt. Fuji seen from Arakurayama Sengen
Mt. Fuji seen from Arakurayama Sengen. (Picture: ぺっぱー / PIXTA(ピクスタ))

Locals interviewed by Asahi Shimbun tell a familiar story about overtourism. Initially, says one physician, he was happy that the town was experiencing an influx of tourists. As time went on, however, it became more of a bane than a blessing, with garbage piling up and people causing traffic jams.

This isn’t the only location near the iconic mountain to suffer this fate. Regarded as a sacred location by many in Japan, Mt. Fuji is also a popular sightseeing and hiking destination for both domestic and inbound tourists. Last hiking season, local officials had to contend with severe overcrowding on the mountain itself, as well as multiple medical emergencies caused by people engaging in the dangerous practice of “bullet climbing.”

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Officials in Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures, which both host entrances to the mountain, have grappled with how to respond. Yamanashi decided recently to enact a 2,000 yen fee at the entrances on its side. Shizuoka officials want to follow suit but are hamstrung because its Fuji entrances are located on private land.

Another radical proposal from Yamanashi’s governor has been to build a light rail that would ascend to Mt. Fuji’s popular 5th station. However, this proposal has met with fierce opposition, as some say it would scar the sacred location permanently. Others argue it would promote more overtourism rather than curbing it.

Overtourism throughout Japan

Mt. Fuji isn’t the only locale in Japan battling overtourism. The record influx of visitors to the country is stretching local infrastructure to its limits in hot spots like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

In Kyoto, officials are creating new bus lines specifically for tourists. Meanwhile, in the geisha district of Gion, the local business association says it’ll start levying fines against tourists who ignore signs and utilize the private roads used by geisha, maiko, and others to get to work.

Tourism is also straining the country’s taxi services. Japan typically doesn’t permit “citizen “gig economy” taxi services like Uber to operate without unlicensed drivers, which has led to licensed taxi capacity maxing out in recent months. Unlicensed taxi services, typically run via foreign Web sites, are thriving in this climate. In response, Japan’s government will now allow gig economy drivers to accept rides during select times and in select areas.

Sources

富士山「映えスポット」苦渋の黒幕設置へ 訪日客あふれ、苦情相次ぐ. Asahi Shimbun

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Jay Allen

Jay is a resident of Tokyo where he works as a reporter for Unseen Japan and as a technial writer. A lifelong geek, wordsmith, and language fanatic, he has level N1 certification in the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and is fervently working on his Kanji Kentei Level 2 certification.

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