KOFU, YAMANASHI PREF. – An increasing number of foreign tourists are visiting Arakurayama Sengen Park in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture, to photograph the scenery, including a vermilion-lacquered five-story pagoda with Mount Fuji as a backdrop.
The spot was already popular among local citizens, but now the city is hoping to increase the unexpected attention by planning related events. It is also preparing to create a sloped area where it will be safer to take pictures.
In mid-May, tourists from Europe, the United States and Thailand showed up to view the 26-meter pagoda and Mount Fuji from the park, which overlooks the city.
“This is like a painting,” Conner Campbell, a 36-year-old Canadian banker who loves ukiyo-e, said while taking a photo.
According to the city, textbooks and guidebooks published overseas refer to the scenery as symbolic of Japan. The number of visitors to the park has increased, along with that of foreign tourists to Japan in general, since Mount Fuji was named a World Heritage site in 2013.
About 50,000 people visited the park over a two-week stretch in April when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.
“The PR effect of pictures uploaded in their blogs and social media sites is big,” a municipal official.
The city is now planning a big event in June, when the irises in the park will be in full blossom.
The pagoda was built in 1962 as a monument to the faithful who died in battles during and after the Meiji Era.
Locals have long been drawn to the site.
“The scenes of the pagoda in red leaves or snow also look great. We can enjoy looking at it with Mount Fuji in every season,” said Chikako Watanabe, a 64-year-old housewife who hikes in the park every week.
The scenic lookout is located on a slope above a cliff behind the pagoda. The Fujiyoshida Municipal Government plans to put up a warning sign and build a wooden deck and fence to prevent visitors from falling from the slope.
“An unexpected number of people are visiting. We want to finish setting them up by the best season for red leaves,” Mayor Shigeru Horiuchi said earlier this month.