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Mt Fuji introduces climbing fees as mountain rescues hit record high

It’s Japan’s most famous image; one that’s become a popular tourist attraction. Mt Fuji is also a destination an increasing number of visitors aren’t content to just observe from a distance.

It’s Japan’s most famous image; one that’s become a popular tourist attraction. Mt Fuji is also a destination an increasing number of visitors aren’t content to just observe from a distance.

Consequently, for the first time, those wanting to climb Mt Fuji will have to pay for the privilege as local officials attempt to limit the number of people ascending the mountain. 

The climbing season for Japan’s most famous peak started on Monday. However, authorities are hoping the season will look a little different this year with the introduction of a 2,000 yen (almost AU$20) fee and a restriction on the number of people allowed to climb the UNESCO World Heritage site referred to as “Fuji-san”. 

The Shinkansen near Mt Fuji.
Two iconic images: the Shinkansen and Mt Fuji.

According to Japanese news agency Kyodo, Yamanashi Prefecture will only allow 4,000 climbers per day on the most popular route up the 3,776-metre mountain, the Yoshida Trail, on top of the entrance fee.

With four of the main hiking trails opening this week, the summit climb is expected to remain open until 10 September.

As well as restricting congestion on one of the world’s most famous mountains, the initiative aims to prevent “bullet climbing” on the mountain, which occurs when visitors try to ascend and descend the mountain without appropriate rest – an activity deemed dangerous.

Around 160,000 people used the Yoshida Trail in 2023, the city of Fujiyoshida in Yamanashi reported.

“We are extremely worried about a kind of domino effect accident,” Yamanashi Governor Kotaro Nagasaki told a press conference in June.

Mount Fuji is an active volcano.
Mt Fuji is an active volcano.

The official climbing season for the mountain’s other three trails, located on the Shizuoka Prefecture side of the mountain, is due to start next week.

Last month, authorities erected a gate halfway up Mount Fuji to help curb visitor numbers. The gate will be locked between 4pm and 3am every day, AP reported.

Worrying trend

The new measures come after the number of people requiring assistance on Japanese mountains reached a record high. 

Police data shows that some 3,568 people needed to be rescued from mountains in 2023, beating the previous record set the year before, Kyodo reported.

According to the Asahi Shimbun, police said four people were found dead on Mount Fuji last week.

KARRYON-Japan-Mount-Fuji-Cycling
A Mt Fuji trail.

A few months ago, Japanese authorities erected a barrier to block views of Mount Fuji at a popular photo spot, where reports of foreign tourists behaving badly emerged.

Earlier this year, Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) data showed that Aussie traveller numbers to Japan rose by nearly 50 per cent, with Australia well on track for a record year of travel to Japan.

Check out why Shizuoka prefecture is a must-do on any Japan itinerary.