• Kyodo

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A second trekking route to the summit of Mt. Fuji opened on Thursday, allowing hikers to begin the climb from Shizuoka Prefecture. But heavy snow near the top meant the upper reaches of two other routes from the prefecture remain closed.

Local officials marked the event with a ceremony, declaring that the mountain is now considered open to visitors.

The climbing season officially began on July 1, when a route from Yamanashi Prefecture opened to the public. That date also marked the introduction of a per-climb voluntary donation toward conservation costs, which both prefectures are now requesting.

Few climbers braved the strong wind and heavy rain on Thursday morning on the new route, as typhoon Neoguri, made its way toward central Japan.

“The wind was pretty strong so I felt it was dangerous,” said 27-year-old Kohei Takano from Narashino in Chiba Prefecture, who climbed to the 6th station but then decided to descend.

Heavy snow fell in February, and the mountain’s upper slopes remain largely covered. As a result, only one of three routes from Shizuoka Prefecture, the Subashiri trail, is open all the way to the summit.

The prefecture’s Fujinomiya route, which is the shortest to the summit, will remain closed until July 18 due to snow above the 8th station. Some of the huts along the upper section of Gotemba route, which is currently closed above the 6th station, will open on July 18, enabling climbers to reach the trail’s 8th station.

Local government officials gathered at the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha, a Shinto shrine located in Fujinomiya city, to mark the start of the climbing season. Fujinomiya Mayor Hidetada Sudo offered prayers “for the safety of all climbers.”

Mt. Fuji became a UNESCO world heritage site in 2013. In a bid to finance conservation work, climbers are being asked to make a voluntary contribution of ¥1,000.

Payment methods include the Shizuoka local government website and convenience stores across the prefecture.

The Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures tested a payments system on certain routes last summer, and formally adopted it in January.

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