TOKYO >> Japan’s Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures seek to reduce congestion on Mount Fuji by 12 to 25 percent during the peak period by lowering the number of climbers allowed to use two of the mountain’s four trails.
A scientific committee of the Mt. Fuji World Cultural Heritage council comprising officials from the central government, the two prefectural governments and others held a meeting in February in Tokyo.
The prefectures presented a plan to establish thresholds for the Yoshida trail in Yamanashi Prefecture and the Fujinomiya trail in Shizuoka Prefecture after which there would be deemed to be too many climbers. The thresholds are 4,000 climbers per day on the Yoshida trail, and 2,000 on the Fujinomiya trail.
The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has called for measures to address the congestion at the summit area of Mount Fuji, which is often very crowded at sunset. The two prefectures will consider other measures.
The scientific committee is an advisory body to the council. The central government is expected to report the decision to UNESCO by the end of November.
The number of climbers per day peaked at 4,544 on the Yoshida trail, and 2,656 on the Fujinomiya trail, during the July-September climbing season last year, according to the Environment Ministry.
The plan aims to reduce the number of days on which climbers exceed the thresholds to three days or less on the Yoshida trail, and two days or less on the Fujinomiya trail.
Thresholds were not suggested for the Subashiri and Gotenba trails in Shizuoka Prefecture because they do not experience severe congestion.
Statistics on Mount Fuji climbers have been kept since 2005. The annual number of climbers peaked at about 320,000 in 2010. There were about 280,000 climbers in 2017.
On Aug. 5, the two prefectures surveyed the number of climbers around sunrise. There were about 1,600 people concentrated around the summit over three hours, resulting in congestion.
Mount Fuji was registered as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site in 2013 for reasons including it being an object of worship for Japanese people and an inspiration for art such as ukiyo-e paintings, which went on to influence overseas cultures.
Last year, the two prefectures started announcing busy days via the internet. They will not limit the number of climbers, but encourage people to avoid busy days.