Proposal aims to reduce Mt. Fuji climbers by up to 25 percent

Climbers cheer "Banzai!" at the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Fuji at about 4:30 a.m on July 1, 2017, the first day of this year's official climbing season. Sunrise and sunset can be crowded times at Fuji's peak, especially since the official climbing season lasts only two months (July and August).


By THE JAPAN NEWS/YOMIURI Published: February 21, 2018

TOKYO -- Japan's Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures proposed reducing congestion on Mount Fuji by 12 to 25 percent per day during the peak period by lowering the number of climbers using two of the mountain's four trails.

A scientific committee of the Mt. Fuji World Cultural Heritage council comprising officials from the central government, the two prefectural governments and others held a meeting on Feb. 15 in Tokyo.

The two prefectures presented a plan to establish thresholds for the Yoshida trail in Yamanashi Prefecture and the Fujinomiya trail in Shizuoka Prefecture after which there would be deemed to be too many climbers. The thresholds are 4,000 climbers per day on the Yoshida trail, and 2,000 on the Fujinomiya trail.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has called for measures to address the congestion at the summit area of Mount Fuji, which is often very crowded at sunset. The two prefectures are planning to consider concrete measures.

The scientific committee is an advisory body to the council. An appropriate number of Mount Fuji climbers that was presented at the meeting will be officially decided upon at a meeting of the council in March. The central government is expected to report the decision to UNESCO by the end of November.

The number of climbers per day peaked at 4,544 on the Yoshida trail, and 2,656 on the Fujinomiya trail, during the July-September climbing season last year, according to the Environment Ministry.

The plan aims to reduce the number of days on which climbers exceed the thresholds to three days or less on the Yoshida trail, and two days or less on the Fujinomiya trail.

Thresholds were not put forward in the plan for the Subashiri and Gotenba trails in Shizuoka Prefecture because they do not experience severe congestion.

Statistics on Mount Fuji climbers started being kept in 2005. The number once dipped to about 230,000, after peaking at about 320,000 in 2010. There were about 280,000 climbers in 2017.

On Aug. 5 last year, the two prefectures surveyed the number of climbers before and after sunrise. There were about 1,600 people concentrated around the summit over three hours, resulting in congestion.

Mount Fuji was registered as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site in 2013 for reasons including it being an object of worship for Japanese people and an inspiration for art such as ukiyo-e paintings, which went on to influence overseas cultures.

At that time, UNESCO called for limiting the number of climbers due to their potential impact on the mountain's natural environment and existence.

Last year, the two prefectures started announcing busy days via the internet. They will not limit the number of climbers, but encourage people to avoid busy days.