A Japanese city invaded by tourists raises a barrier to block the view of Mount Fuji

The Japanese city of Fujikawaguchiko has erected a giant black net to block views of Mount Fuji, a reaction to the city’s huge popularity on Instagram and other social media platforms.

“It is regrettable that we have had to take such measures,” a local official said last monthh, when the city council decided to block the most popular views of Fuji with a 20-meter black screen, which was installed on May 21.

The small town in Yamanashi prefecture has become the center of an international controversy in recent weeks. One specific viewpoint at Fujikawaguchiko, which is located at the foot of Mount Fuji and near the starting point of one of the most used trails up the mountain, became so popular with visitors that it was causing problems for locals.

The display was built due to traffic problems and dangerous behavior of people deliberately crossing the road which could cause an accident.
The display was built due to traffic problems and dangerous behavior of people deliberately crossing the road which could cause an accident. (Anadolu via Getty Images)

The situation has gotten so bad that even companies unrelated to tourism have intervened. The Ibishi Dental Clinic, located in the building next to the photo spot, is one of them. According to the clinic, its employees and patients have had to deal with harassment from tourists.

“There were a number of nuisance illegal activities such as leaving rubbish, trespassing on premises, smoking, eating in the parking lot or under the roofs of private homes and trespassing on roofs, which often resulted in a call to the police.” said a statement released by the clinic. “It became common for people to insult us or throw away their cigarettes while they were still lit when we asked them to move their cars.”

The statement added that the photo spot “attracts a constant flow of foreigners from early morning until late at night, and even local residents are unable to communicate with them when they are warned in Japanese.”

Ibishi Dental Clinic confirms it was one of the companies that asked Fujikawaguchiko officials to address the issue.

Sunset view of a Lawson store parking lot with Mount Fuji in the background during twilight in Japan.
The previous view. (Getty)

The problems of overtourism in Japan

Since Japan reopened its doors to foreign tourists after the pandemic, “revenge travelers” have invaded the country and its most popular attractions. More than three million people a month visited in March and April 2024, and the record trend appears on track to continue as North American and European tourists plan their summer vacations.

While overtourism is a problem around the world, since Paris to Hawaii, the story of Fujikawaguchiko is notable for several reasons. In this case, it is not a specific attraction that attracts hordes of visitors, but rather a viewing point where people like to take pictures of Mount Fuji. The viewpoint is in front of a convenience store, with people standing along the way to get the best photo.

Most visitors do not spend the night in Fujikawaguchiko and prefer to come for a day trip, but stay in busier Tokyo, just 100 kilometers away, at night.

This means no money comes in (from entrance fees, museum passes or hotel fees) to compensate for the damage caused by thousands of visitors or the erosion, litter and traffic problems they bring. As a result, the city of only 10,000 inhabitants has had difficulty coping with the situation.

“I have seen people entering the streets, people using electronic (scooters) without following traffic rules and getting into accidents. There have been many accidents involving foreign tourists recently,” Haruhito Tsuchiya, a 49-year-old local who works in the industry. of tourism, he told Reuters.

Lawson’s, the convenience store across from Fuji that often appears in photos of the mountain on social media, has also said it will take action to stem the flow of misbehaving tourists.

“We sincerely apologize to local residents, customers of these stores and others for causing inconvenience and concern due to the popularization of the Lawson Kawaguchiko Station branch,” the company said in a May 5 statement.

Lawson’s added that it would hire private security guards for the Kawaguchiko store and post signs in several languages ​​asking tourists not to litter or block roads.

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