It’s a hard road to the top of Japan’s sacred Mt. Fuji|Arab News Japan

Arab News Japan

TOKYO: Mountain Day in Japan is celebrated on August 13 and many Japanese take this opportunity to climb the country’s iconic Mt. Fuji, but ascending a 3,776-meter mountain with thousands of others and often at night makes it a challenging task.

With tourism rising rapidly in Japan, climbing Mt. Fuji has attracted foreigners as well as Japanese, but despite a well-worn path to the top, it’s no walk in the park reaching the summit.

The first half is easy as you can drive halfway up the mountain to the “Fifth Station,” which has a car park, restaurants and shops.

Several smaller stations can be found on the way to the top, but they have limited facilities and are nothing more than huts. There is more at the top where you can buy souvenirs, eat a curry and send a postcard to your friends.

The climb is not easy, especially near the rocky top, but climbers aim to see the sunrise and the beautiful panorama looking out to the Pacific Ocean – at least, on a clear day. Clouds often shroud the mountain.

This year, over 10,000 tourists, both Japanese and foreign, visited the mountain on the three days around Mountain Day. On the 12th, 4,704 climbers set off for the top.

The large numbers are worrying local authorities, who are concerned about safety and environmental degradation.

The environment on the mountainside can be harsh; it’s often windy and the temperature can drop into single figures even in the hottest months. Altitude sickness can also be a problem.

Mountain guides who go with large groups of climbers to the summit to provide them with advice and assistance have complained of people who do not know the rules, such as not sitting by or falling asleep by the trail, pitching tents along the path, or flying drones. 

Most of the criticism is aimed at foreigners, but some of them say the rules aren’t clear. However, there is talk about restricting the number of foreigners allowed on the path.

It was quite beautiful at the top of Mt. Fuji on Mountain Day this year and there was little trouble despite the large number of climbers who, in the spirit of Mountain Day, only sought to gain merit and blessings from ascending Japan’s most sacred mountain.


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