In Japan, overtourism forces a city to hide Mount Fuji

A small Japanese town installed a high opaque net on Tuesday to hide a view of Mount Fuji popular with hordes of tourists, whose bad manners exceeded residents and authorities.

The announcement of this radical measure last month by the town hall of Fujikawaguchiko, in central Japan, caused a lot of noise both in the country and internationally, becoming a new example of the consequences of overtourism.

The local authorities had justified it by the incivility of numerous foreign tourists on site, throwing waste on the ground, smoking outside authorized areas, crossing the road at a red light or parking indiscriminately. Some even climbed onto the roof of a nearby dental clinic, completely illegally, so they could take better photos.

Workers began installing the 2.5 meter high and 20 meter long net on Tuesday, attached to metal poles, and had almost completed the operation by the end of the morning, AFP noted on site.

Work began in early May, but the project took longer than expected due to material supply problems.

“Too bad”, but “understandable”

The photographs, taken from a narrow sidewalk along a busy road, became extremely popular on social media like Instagram because they combined a view of the majestic volcano with a Lawson grocery store and its parking lot in the foreground, a shape symbol of contemporary Japan.

“It’s a shame” that a net is installed “because it’s clearly an iconic photo,” regrets Christina Roys, a 36-year-old New Zealand tourist interviewed on Tuesday by AFP on site. “But it’s totally understandable” because the place attracted so many people and it was “quite dangerous” with the traffic right next to it, she adds. However, she thinks that the net will not prevent tourists from continuing to come en masse to the surrounding area.

Because Mount Fuji, the highest peak in Japan (3776 m), can obviously be photographed from many other places, including Fujikawaguchiko.

“Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji are magnificent places. I hope everyone can admire these beautiful landscapes while respecting good manners,” Michie Motomochi, 41, who runs a traditional Japanese pastries store in Fujikawaguchiko, told AFP.

A tour operator offering tours around Mount Fuji from Tokyo told AFP he was now taking tourists to another nearby Lawson store with a similar view of the volcano, but with fewer local residents nearby. Local authorities have warned that they intend to leave the barrier in place as long as necessary until the situation improves.

Record influx of tourists

Elsewhere too, Japan is trying to combat the effects of overtourism. Access to a very popular hiking trail to climb Mount Fuji from July to September will now be paid (just under CA$20) and limited to 4,000 people per day. An online reservation system was just put in place on Monday.

And in the former imperial capital Kyoto, some alleys in the geisha district have been closed to the public since last month. The local council of the Gion district deplored the fact that some tourists behaved like “paparazzi” by chasing geishas to take photos of them without their permission, believing they were in an “amusement park”.

Japan had completely closed itself to foreign visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. But since its borders were completely reopened at the end of 2022, international tourists have been flocking there again, especially as the fall of the yen makes the country cheap for many of them.

More than three million visitors came to the Japanese archipelago in March, a monthly record for the country, and this threshold was reached again in April.

To watch on video

source site-41