After the introduction of fees to visit the iconic “floating” torii gate at Itsukushima shrine, another Japanese tourist attraction is bringing in tourist charges.
The Yoshida trail
Mount Fuji is the latest world destination set to make visitors pay for access. There are different trails for climbing Mount Fuji, each with different difficulty levels, crowd levels, amenities, and distance from Tokyo. The Yoshida trail, a 14.5-kilometre loop with a 1,500-metre elevation gain, is easily reached from Tokyo and is perceived to offer a safe way to experience the mountain, with well-marked paths, plus accommodation, restrooms and meals at plentiful mountain huts along the way.
From 1 July 2024, and for at least the duration of the 70-day summer climbing season, those who wish to access the Yoshida hike will need to pay the new levy and pass through a gate, which will also measure how many visitors are passing through and limit daily numbers at the UNESCO World Heritage site to 4,000. It will also be forbidden to begin the ascent between the hours of 4 pm and 2 am.
As well as the safety implications and risks of congestion and logjams when too many walkers are trying to crowd into narrow or restricted areas, Japan’s Yamanashi prefectural government is concerned about the burden on local teams and taxpayers created by inexperienced or reckless walkers who find themselves in trouble in more remote areas.
The amount of the visitor fee is yet to be confirmed but authorities say it will be announced in February. A voluntary fee of a suggested ¥1,000 (€6.20) was introduced in 2014, which has helped with the responsibility of keeping the mountain a pleasant and safe environment, paying towards path maintenance, litter clearance and environmental protections. The income raised from the new fee will go towards the construction of shelters that will protect visitors from a volcanic eruption and other maintenance tasks associated with the route.
Earlier this year, authorities declared that Mount Fuji was “screaming” with overtourism, signalling, like many destinations around the world, their intent to do something to protect the natural asset and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.
The mountain received 221,322 climbers in 2023, which local government sources said was an “unprecedented” number, resulting in a build-up of litter and damage to trails and infrastructure.