Mt. Fuji, a symbol of Japan standing at 3,776 meters (12,388 feet), took approximately 700,000 years to form. However, the stunning view of this majestic peak from a particular spot in Fujikawaguchiko disappeared on a hot May morning. Authorities constructed a 20-meter by 2.5-meter barrier to obscure the view from a busy road, a spot that had become viral among tourists. This barrier also blocked the sight of a Lawson convenience store beneath the mountain. The decision was made due to the numerous tourists who would gather, often ignoring rules about littering and parking, which became a significant nuisance and traffic hazard. Kikue Katsumata, a 73-year-old resident of the town, expressed mixed feelings. While she welcomed foreign visitors, she pointed out the dangers posed by tourists running across the narrow road without using crosswalks.

The tourism surge, especially in March and April, set records for visitor arrivals, driven by the pent-up demand after the pandemic and the yen’s depreciation to a 34-year low, making Japan an appealing destination. This surge has been economically beneficial, with travelers spending a record 1.75 trillion yen ($11.2 billion) in the first quarter of 2024. However, the decision to block the Mt. Fuji view represents a broader issue in Japan, where many regions grapple with the downsides of increased tourism. Cities like Osaka and resort towns like Hakone are contemplating new tourism taxes to manage the visitor deluge. Cyril Malchand, a 45-year-old French tourist, made a special trip after learning about the barrier online, wanting to see the view one last time. He empathized with the locals’ concerns, acknowledging the dangers posed by people crossing roads without caution.