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Blocking View of Mount Fuji a 'Last Resort' for Beautiful Town

Fujikawaguchiko Town is building a screen to deter tourists from trespassing and loitering on the road in a quest to capture the perfect photo of Mount Fuji.



This Lawson convenience store has become a popular spot for photographing Mount Fuji, but the town will be erecting barriers to fend off rule-flouting tourists. (©Sankei by Takashi Hirao)

As inbound tourism to Japan rebounds to pre-pandemic levels, Yamanashi Prefecture is experiencing a surge in visitors flocking to breathtaking views of Mount Fuji.

Highlighting this trend is the Arakurayama Sengen Park Cherry Blossom Festival in the prefecture's Fujiyoshida City. At the festival, visitors can enjoy views of cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji, and the iconic five-storied pagoda all in one vista. In 2024, the festival attracted 270,000 visitors, a notable 50% increase from the previous year, with the majority being inbound tourists.

Some local governments were initially slow to tap into the potential of inbound tourism. Now, many of them are actively seeking to attract more visitors by expanding and establishing observation facilities at scenic locales.

At the same time, the popularity of Mount Fuji has also brought with it the unwelcome consequences of overtourism. This has led some municipalities to take unprecedented measures, such as installing a "view-obscuring screen."

Mount Fuji's Impact

The view of Mount Fuji seen from Shindo Pass in Fuefuki City is featured in the iconic intro of Shochiku films. Yet, until a few years ago, this spot remained relatively unknown beyond avid mountain climbers and photographers due to its rugged mountain path.

FUJIYAMA Twin Terrace in Yamanashi Prefecture with a view of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. October 3, 2021. (©Sankei by Takashi Hirao)

To improve accessibility, Fuefuki City constructed the FUJIYAMA Twin Terrace observation facility in July 2021. It also began a bus service to the site. Despite attracting around 20,000 visitors annually, it has yet to capture the attention of inbound tourists.

In response, Fuefuki City partnered with travel giant JTB to promote the location internationally and establish a new hub with cafes and retail shops. They have also launched guided tours starting from Lake Kawaguchi. 

Mayor Masaki Yamashita envisions it as "a destination for Mount Fuji tourism," aiming to attract 50,000 visitors annually.

A new facility called "Lily Bell Hütte" was built at FUJIYAMA Twin Terrace. April 23 in Fuefuki, Yamanashi Prefecture. (©Sankei by Takashi Hirao)

Dispersing Tourism

Plans for new observation decks are also in progress in the northern foothills of Mount Fuji. Yamanakako Village is building a 60-meter-long observation deck at the Yamanakako Panoramic Viewing Platform, which will offer views of Mount Fuji and Lake Yamanaka. The deck is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 in the current parking space accommodating fewer than ten cars. Additionally, the village is exploring the possibility of providing bus services from lakeside facilities to the observation platform.

A new observation deck is being constructed at the Yamanakako Panoramic Viewing Platform. Photo taken on March 11, 2022, Yamanakako Village, Yamanashi Prefecture. (©Sankei by Takashi Hirao)

Meanwhile, Narusawa Village is building a Mount Fuji observation deck at the "Ikikatsu Hiroba," adjacent to Road Station Narusawa. The deck, roughly 4 meters high, 7 meters long, and 4 meters wide, will be able to accommodate around 30 people for photos. The area is also a popular destination for school trips. 

Both villages aim to redirect some of the inbound tourism in Fujiyoshida City and Fujikawaguchiko Town to their new facilities.

Traffic Hazards

From an administrative standpoint, overtourism poses significant challenges for Fujiyoshida City and Fujikawaguchiko Town. A notable example is the Honcho 2 Intersection in Fujiyoshida City, where Honcho Street stretches straight toward Mount Fuji, lined with nostalgic shops, signs, and paper lanterns reminiscent of the Showa era. This spot has gained immense popularity on social media, drawing crowds of inbound tourists eager to capture photos.

Tourists have been observed stopping in the middle of the intersection to use Mount Fuji as a backdrop for their photos. Some linger on the road even after the stoplight turns red, disregarding pedestrian safety.

Mount Fuji seen from Honcho 2 Intersection on March 8. Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture. (©Sankei by Takashi Hirao)

In response, the city deployed security guards in 2023, but 2024 saw a further influx of tourists. Proposed measures such as converting the intersection into a scramble crossing or separating pedestrians and vehicles have been considered but not yet implemented. Presently, the city's approach centers on increasing the number of security guards. However, concerns persist regarding traffic congestion and safety.

Blocking Mount Fuji

Meanwhile, Fujikawaguchiko Town took an unprecedented step to tackle overtourism. One of its convenience stores, dubbed "Mount Fuji Lawson," became a hotspot for inbound tourists. From an angle, Mount Fuji appears to float just above the shop's roof.

Inbound tourists take photos of "Mount Fuji Lawson" on April 26. Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture. (©Sankei by Takashi Hirao)

It was discovered that this angle could be achieved from a sidewalk in front of a dental clinic opposite the convenience store. Tourists attempting to capture the perfect shot trespassed onto nearby private property and crossed a busy single-lane road without using designated crossings. Attempts to address these issues with security guards and English signage proved futile.

Ultimately, the town's urban development division decided to erect a screen to obstruct the view of Mount Fuji, deeming it a "last resort." Construction to install the poles for the screen, measuring approximately 2.5 meters high and 20 meters wide, began on April 30, with completion scheduled for mid-May.

Construction has begun on setting up poles for the large screen at "Mount Fuji Lawson." May 1, Fuji Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture. (©Sankei by Takashi Hirao)

The situation reflects a complex combination of anticipation for regional revitalization through tourism and concerns about the negative impacts of overtourism. Fujikawaguchiko Town's decision to block Mount Fuji has attracted significant attention, as deliberately obstructing an iconic view in response to overtourism is unprecedented in Japan.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Takashi Hirao, The Sankei Shimbun