Mount Fuji: Japan limits climbers to 4,000 daily and introduces fees to discourage ‘bullet climbing’

Mount Fuji: Japan limits climbers to 4,000 daily and introduces fees to discourage ‘bullet climbing’

Japan will start collecting entry fees of ¥2,000 (£10) per head from people climbing the famous volcano to limit the number of trekkers to Mount Fuji.

A gate is set to be installed at the entrance to the Yoshida Trail, also known as the fifth station, on the Yamanashi side of Mount Fuji, standing at 3,776m.

The gate will begin collecting fees from climbers starting 1 July this year, marking the beginning of this year’s climbing season.

The implementation of this fee collection aims to manage overcrowding near the summit of the mountain, the Yamanashi Prefectural Assembly has said.

Climbers will need to allocate as much as ¥3,000 per person for their climb, which includes a voluntary contribution of ¥1,000 dedicated to the conservation efforts of the mountain, recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site.

For the 2024 season, up until mid-September, the newly installed gate will operate with limited hours, closing at 4pm and reopening at 3am the next day.

The authorities further added that should the daily influx of climbers surpass 4,000, entry limitations will be enforced. However, climbers who have bookings at mountain huts will not be subject to these restrictions.

Mount Fuji, located at the border of Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, attracted approximately 221,000 climbers last summer, roughly the same level as in 2019, according to Japan’s Environment Ministry.

Around 60 per cent of these climbers opted for the Yoshida Trail. There are three trails available on the Shizuoka side of the mountain: Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya.

The increase in the number of climbers was also reviving the practice of “bullet climbing” – a method where hikers begin their climb at night to witness the sunrise from the summit and then proceed to descend without making overnight stops at mountain huts.

Yoshiro Sanada, executive director of Fuji-Yoshida tourism promotion service, a local foundation was quoted as saying by Asahi Shimbun last year: “Underestimating the risks of mountain climbing can result in injuries, deteriorating health conditions, getting lost in the mountains and even life-threatening situations.”

Climbing in the dark increases the danger of encountering falling rocks and suffering ankle fractures. Experts also note that bullet climbers face a higher risk of experiencing altitude sickness, including symptoms like nausea and headaches. This happens because of swift ascent, which affords less opportunity for their bodies to acclimatise to the decreased pressure and oxygen levels at higher altitudes.

Earlier, Yamanashi governor Kotaro Nagasaki had said regarding the 4,000-climber limit this summer: “This is a measure to alleviate congestion on the trail and previous surveys have shown that excessive crowding occurs near the summit when the number of climbers exceeds 4,000.”