Sick of Tourists, Japanese Town Blocks Iconic View of Mount Fuji

FUJIKAWAGUCHIKO – In a bold move to address overtourism, the town of Fujikawaguchiko installed a large mesh barrier at a popular Mount Fuji viewing spot on May 21, aiming to deter photo-seeking tourists.

Mount Fuji, Japan’s most renowned landmark, can be seen from miles around. However, local residents in Fujikawaguchiko have grown increasingly frustrated with the influx of predominantly foreign tourists who litter, trespass, and flout traffic rules in their quest for the perfect photo.

Visitors often park illegally, ignore smoking bans, and crowd the pavement to capture the picturesque snow-capped mountain rising behind a convenience store.

On May 21, workers erected the black netting, measuring 2.5 meters by 20 meters, with the task completed by late morning, according to an AFP reporter. “I hope that the net will prevent dangerous activities,” said Michie Motomochi, 41, a local sweet shop owner.

Christina Roys, a 36-year-old tourist from New Zealand, expressed mixed feelings about the barrier. “I think it’s disappointing that they are putting it up. It’s obviously an iconic shot,” she said. “But it’s completely understandable. We were here last night, managing to get the last shot before they were putting up the wall, and there were so many people. It’s quite dangerous because of the traffic coming through. There are other spots where you can get the shot of the mountain.”

Japan is experiencing a surge in tourism, with monthly overseas visitors exceeding three million in both March and April for the first time. However, like other global tourist hotspots such as Venice, the influx has not been universally welcomed.

In Kyoto, another popular destination, locals have complained about tourists harassing the city’s famous geisha. Meanwhile, on Mount Fuji itself, hikers using the most popular route will be charged 2,000 yen (S$17) each this summer, with daily entries capped at 4,000 to alleviate congestion.

A new online booking system for the mountain’s Yoshida trail, which guarantees entry through a new gate, opened on Monday, although 1,000 places per day will be reserved for same-day entries. Mount Fuji, covered in snow for most of the year, attracts more than 220,000 climbers during the July-September hiking season. Many attempt the climb overnight to witness the sunrise, often becoming sick or injured in the process.

Regional officials have voiced concerns about safety and environmental degradation due to overcrowding on the active volcano, a symbol of Japan and a former peaceful pilgrimage site. Nearby residents at other popular photo spots, including the Fuji Dream Bridge, have also reported issues with overtourism in recent weeks.