National

Mount Fuji opens to climbers Monday, but summit inaccessible for now

by Hinano Kobayashi

Contributing Writer

The Yoshida trail, the most popular of the four routes taken to climb Mount Fuji, will open Monday for the climbing season, but climbers using the trail won’t yet be able to reach the summit.

The route is still blocked by a rock-slide caused by a typhoon last September, according to the Yamanashi Prefectural Government, which operates the trail.

Officials said Tuesday that it was only possible to start reconstruction of the trail recently because until then snow had been an issue, adding that they are not certain when the work will be completed.

The other three trails, which start from Shizuoka Prefecture, will open to trekkers on July 10. But if reconstruction work on the Yoshida trail is not finished by then, it will not be possible to approach the summit using the Subashiri route as it connects to the Yoshida trail from the eighth station of the mountain. The Fujinomiya and Gotenba trails are likely to see a drastic increase in visitors hoping to ascend to the summit.

Whether to mark the beginning or the ending of a trip to Japan, the nation’s highest mountain — designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site — has always attracted tourists from all over the world. In 2017 alone, 284,862 people climbed the mountain.

The Yoshida trail, recommended for beginners, attracted 172,657 people in 2017, with 14 mountain lodges available between stations seven and eight-and-a-half. Subashiri, which had 23,475 climbers, allows trekkers to see rich forest scenery on the way up, and is less crowded than Yoshida. Fujinomiya, the shortest trail, attracted 70,319 people, but the rising sun can’t be appreciated around areas lower than the new seventh station because of the course of the trail. On the other trails, climbers can watch the sun rise at any point of the 3,766-meter-high mountain.

The Gotenba trail, used by 18,411 climbers, tends not to be as busy as the Yoshida trail, but is more suited for experienced climbers as there are only four mountain lodges after the seventh station. Mountain lodges in Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures are grappling with a growing number of foreign tourists, as camping is prohibited on the mountain.

An event is planned on July 10, to wish for a safe climbing season from July through September, at the Fujisanhongu Sengentaisha grand shrine, located on the Shizuoka side of the mountain.

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