National

Mount Fuji hiking fees to be spent partly on safety and conservation projects, prefecture says

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

The Shizuoka Prefectural Government will spend the cash it raised last year from Mount Fuji hikers on six safety and conservation projects.

The prefecture introduced voluntary ¥1,000 payments for a short trial period on its three trails last year and raised ¥14.9 million.

About ¥4.7 million was allocated to a research project conducted this summer using portable GPS tracking devices to help monitor climbers during their ascent. The gadgets, rented to hikers, will gather data to help supervisors identify trail bottlenecks, said Hisao Kosaka, section chief of the prefectural government’s Mount Fuji world heritage division.

Another ¥4 million will cover the cost of hiring people to count pedestrian traffic at certain locations, ¥3.11 million will pay for additional efforts to record erosion on the trails caused by foot traffic and bad weather, and ¥990,000 will pay for a vegetation survey, Kosaka said. About ¥1.1 million will also go toward studying new toilet technology.

The remaining ¥1 million will pay for the new prefectural Mount Fuji website that was launched earlier this year, Kosaka said.

The 3,776-meter peak was designated a UNESCO World Heritage cultural site in June of last year.

A voluntary trail tax was introduced on a trial basis between July 25 and Aug. 3, 2013, and was formally introduced during the mountain’s open season this year.

The decision on what to spend the money on was approved at a meeting of panel of experts on Tuesday in the city of Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, after it examined worthwhile causes.

Kosaka said the prefecture hopes to decide how to spend the money it collected this year before next summer so climbers can see the results of their donations.

“We’d like to let hikers know how the money has been used specifically and ask for more climbers’ cooperation in paying the fee,” Kosaka said.

This year, Shizuoka Prefecture received about ¥43.82 million. However, only 43,312 of the 106,547 hikers who used its three trails to the top of the mountain paid up, which means 59.3 percent of hikers ignored the request.

At the meeting on Tuesday, some panel members suggested the money collected this year should be used for safety measures in the event that Fuji erupts, in light of the recent deadly eruption of Mount Ontake, Kosaka said.

Mount Ontake straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures.

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