Japan to build anti-tourist fence at Mount Fuji viewpoint

TOPSHOT – Workers install a barrier to block the sight of Japan’s Mount Fuji emerging from behind a convenience store to deter badly behaved tourists, in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi prefecture on May 21, 2024. —   A tall metal fence will be built to control unruly tourists who have annoyed locals at a popular Mount Fuji photo spot, a Japanese official said Thursday.(Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

By Hiroshi HIYAMA

TOKYO, June 6, 2024 (AFP) – A tall metal fence will be built to control unruly tourists who have annoyed locals at a popular Mount Fuji photo spot, a Japanese official said Thursday.

It follows the construction last month of a black screen in another nearby town to block an Instagram-famous view of the snow-capped volcano rising from behind a convenience store.

Now residents have complained about mostly foreign visitors venturing into the road on the Mount Fuji Dream Bridge in search of the perfect shot of Japan’s highest peak.

Despite its flashy name, the bridge is an ordinary overpass that runs above a river, with a narrow pavement separated from the road by a waist-high concrete wall.

But people have been jaywalking across the road to reach a vacant area between the two lanes of traffic, said Haruhito Yoshizaki, a tourism official at Fuji City.

There, they pose for photos, twirl for videos or just chill out — some even bringing their suitcases.

To deter this risky behaviour, authorities have already put up low metal scaffolding and signs telling people to keep away from the stretch of tarmac.

Next, authorities say they plan to erect a 1.8 metre (5.9 feet) high metal mesh fence around the area by the end of June.

Locals “welcome visitors as long as basic rules are observed”, Yoshizaki said, saying the move is meant to ease the “frustration of local residents”.

“Maybe we can build a sightseeing course” instead to encourage more considerate exploration, he added.

A pedestrian staircase to the bridge also appears in countless photos on Instagram and other platforms — including wedding pictures — because from a certain angle it appears to lead to Mount Fuji.

Residents have also grumbled about tourists parking illegally in the quiet neighbourhood, or shouting to one another when taking wide shots from afar.

The Dream Bridge has existed for about a decade but photo-hungry visitors began to congregate there in November, Yoshizaki said.

Record numbers of overseas tourists are coming to Japan, and as photos taken in the spot spread on social media, the crowds have grown sharply in recent weeks.

This week, the city set up a parking area and a bathroom facility at the bridge to ease the burden on locals.

Meanwhile, the nearby town of Fujikawaguchiko plans to rebuild a black mesh barrier, already in place next to the convenience store, with stronger material.

Several small holes have been poked in the screen meant to stop people littering, trespassing and breaking traffic rules.