SHIZUOKA - This year’s climbing season began on three trails for Mount Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture on Sunday, following a similar season opening on a trail in neighboring Yamanashi Prefecture nine days earlier.
The 3,776-meter-high volcano, which straddles the two prefectures, is the nation’s highest peak and attracts climbers of many nationalities. Last year about 97,000 people summited via the trails in Shizuoka.
As a no-entry sign was removed from the Fujinomiya trail under a slightly cloudy sky at 9 a.m., climbers in mountain gear began streaming onto it.
“I’ve come to Mount Fuji a number of times, but this is the first time I’ve encountered the season opening,” said Kayoko Kato, a 44-year-old woman from Yokohama. “Once I scale the peak, I want to encircle the crater there.”
The other two trails that opened for climbing Sunday were Subashiri and Gotemba. The Yoshida trail in Yamanashi, the most popular of the four trails due to its easy access from the Tokyo area, opened on July 1. The trails will close when the season ends on Sept. 10.
Although it’s not mandatory, climbers are asked to pay ¥1,000 per person near the halfway points on the trails in Shizuoka and Yamanashi. The fees are collected in the name of supporting the mountain’s upkeep.
An increase in the number of climbers has prompted environmental concerns about the popular mountain. UNESCO, which added Mount Fuji to its World Heritage List in 2013, has said the value of the mountain is being put under pressure by the increase.