Amid concerns about overtourism impacting the iconic Mount Fuji, the Yamanashi Prefectural Government is considering a transformative solution to alleviate the strain caused by overcrowding. Governor Kotaro Nagasaki has proposed the introduction of a light rail transit system as a potential remedy to this issue. Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Nagasaki stressed the urgency of addressing the escalating challenges linked to excessive tourism.

As Mount Fuji celebrates its 10th anniversary of being designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Nagasaki acknowledges the pressing need to address the detrimental consequences of overtourism. The UNESCO designation brought forth three key responsibilities: managing the influx of visitors, mitigating the environmental impacts of tourism, and harmonizing the site with its natural and historical context. Unfortunately, the past decade has witnessed the exacerbation of over-tourism’s negative effects on this revered hiking and tourist destination. Failing to adequately tackle these challenges could jeopardize the esteemed UNESCO status. Nagasaki has proposed a forward-thinking solution: a light rail system that would replace the existing Fuji Subaru highway leading to one of Mount Fuji’s fifth stations. The rail system aims to regulate visitor numbers by limiting passengers, reducing private vehicles, and emphasizing a blend with the natural surroundings, spirituality, and enhanced tourist experience. The Yamanashi Prefectural Government is resolute about realizing this vision and is currently conducting a feasibility study for the light rail system. They aim to secure stakeholder support, including local residents, by March 2024. Urgency stems from a twofold increase in fifth station visitors between 2012 and 2019, causing overcrowding, environmental issues, and reduced tourist satisfaction. Shifting from quantity to quality, Nagasaki and his team strive to preserve Mount Fuji’s sanctity while ensuring a sustainable, enriching visitor experience.