Hiking enthusiasts flock to Mount Fuji as climbing season opens

Kyodo

Hikers flocked to Mount Fuji on Monday as Japan’s highest mountain, which last month was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, opened for the climbing season.

At the 3,776-meter summit, climbers cheered as the sun broke through the clouds at around 4:40 a.m. Monday.

They trekked up the mountain, which straddles Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, after three of its four climbing routes opened at midnight Sunday. Another route, from Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, will be completely opened by midnight next Sunday.

The mountain’s registration on the world heritage list is expected to attract more climbers this year, so the authorities will face a greater challenge to ensure adequate safety measures are in place and to protect the environment.

To help preserve the environment and fund safety measures, the two prefectures will charge a ¥1,000 admission fee on a trial basis for about 10 days from July 25 near the halfway points, and conduct a survey of climbers about the admission fee.

About 350,000 to 400,000 people climb the mountain every year, according to the Yamanashi Prefectural Government.

Since it takes about six hours to climb the mountain by the Fujinomiya route and longer by the other routes, most climbers stayed overnight at mountain lodges to catch the sunrise from the peak.

An official ceremony was also held at a Shinto shrine in Fujinomiya to pray for the safety of hikers this season, with Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu and Fujinomiya Mayor Hidetada Sudo attending.