The iconic Mount Fuji, a revered symbol of Japan’s natural beauty, is facing a crisis as a surge in tourism brings unprecedented environmental strain. Standing at 3,776 meters, the mountain holds profound cultural and spiritual significance for the Japanese. However, recent years have witnessed an overwhelming influx of visitors, both from within Japan and abroad. Despite being designated a UNESCO World Heritage site a decade ago, with explicit directives to manage overcrowding and environmental impact, the situation has deteriorated. The “Subaru” base station, the largest of its kind, saw a staggering 4 million visitors this summer, a 50% surge from 2013. Concerns about litter and unsanitary conditions along the climbing routes have flooded social media. The rise of “bullet climbing,” where individuals attempt to summit and descend Mount Fuji within a single day for a sunrise view, has emerged as a significant challenge. This year, authorities received 61 rescue requests, marking a 50% increase from the previous year, with a quarter of them involving non-Japanese tourists.

In light of these challenges, authorities are contemplating stringent measures, including the potential implementation of a tram system and regulating access to the mountain. While many aspire to climb Mount Fuji, the current levels of overcrowding may necessitate regulated entry to preserve the mountain’s sanctity and natural grandeur. This crisis calls for a concerted effort to promote sustainable tourism practices and safeguard this cultural treasure for generations to come.