SHIZUOKA – The climbing season for Mount Fuji got fully underway Tuesday with three trails in Shizuoka Prefecture opening to the public.
The season began earlier this month when a trail in neighboring Yamanashi Prefecture opened on the 3,776-meter mountain, Japan’s highest peak, which attracted over 284,000 climbers last year. The trails close on Sept. 10.
“It is Japan’s No. 1 mountain, and as a Japanese, I want to keep climbing it,” said 52-year-old Miyuki Kimura from Ibaraki Prefecture, who was making her third ascent. “It is not easy climbing, but the sense of achievement you get from it is incomparable.”
While not mandatory, climbers are asked to pay ¥1,000 ($9) per person to support the upkeep of the mountain, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013.
Some 112,200 people used the Shizuoka routes last year, with the amount collected there totaling roughly ¥52 million, according to local officials.
The rise in the number of climbers has raised environmental concerns about the popular mountain, which failed to be registered as natural heritage site partly due to illegal dumping of garbage.
It was registered as cultural heritage instead for its significance as an object of worship and repeated depictions in artwork.