Sick of Tourists, Japan Town Blocks View of Mt Fuji

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. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)
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. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)
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Sick of Tourists, Japan Town Blocks View of Mt Fuji

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. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)
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. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP)

A Japanese town mounted a large mesh barrier at a popular viewing spot for Mount Fuji on Tuesday, to deter photo-taking by an ever-growing number of tourists, Agence France Presse reported.

Japan's most famous sight can be seen for miles around, but Fujikawaguchiko locals are fed up with streams of mostly foreign visitors littering, trespassing and breaking traffic rules in their hunt for a photo to share on social media.

Parking illegally and ignoring a smoking ban, they would cram a pavement to shoot the snow-capped mountain, which soars photogenically into the sky from behind a convenience store, residents said.

Workers began putting the black netting measuring 2.5 by 20 meters in place on Tuesday, and by late morning they were already done, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

"I hope that the net will prevent dangerous activities," resident Michie Motomochi, 41, who runs a traditional Japanese sweet shop, told AFP.

"I think it's disappointing that they are putting it up. It's obviously an iconic shot," said Christina Roys, 36, a tourist from New Zealand.

"But it's completely understandable. We were here last night, managing to get the last shot before they were putting up the wall, and there were so many people," she said.

"It's quite dangerous because of the traffic coming through. There are other spots where you can get the shot of the mountain."

- Online bookings -

Record numbers of overseas tourists are coming to Japan, where monthly visitors exceeded three million for the first time in March and then again in April.

But as in other tourist hotspots, such as Venice -- which recently launched a trial of entry fees for day visitors -- the influx has not been universally welcomed.

In Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto, locals have complained of tourists harassing the city's famed geisha.

And hikers using the most popular route to climb Mount Fuji this summer will be charged 2,000 yen ($13) each, with entries capped at 4,000 to ease congestion.

A new online booking system for the mountain's Yoshida trail opened on Monday to guarantee hikers entry through a new gate, although 1,000 places a day will be kept for day-of entries.

Mount Fuji is covered in snow most of the year, but during the July-September hiking season, more than 220,000 visitors trudge up its steep, rocky slopes.

Many climb through the night to see the sunrise, and some attempt to reach the 3,776-meter (12,388-foot) summit without breaks, becoming sick or injured as a result.

Regional officials have raised safety and environmental concerns linked to overcrowding on the active volcano, a symbol of Japan and a once-peaceful pilgrimage site.

Residents near other popular photo spots in the region, including the so-called Fuji Dream Bridge, have also reportedly complained about overtourism in recent weeks.

One tour operator that offers day trips from Tokyo to the Mount Fuji area told AFP they are taking visitors to another Lawson store nearby where a similar view can be seen, but there are fewer nearby residents.



Rains, Cooler Weather Help Firefighters Gain Ground on Large Wildfires in Southern New Mexico

Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.  - The AP
Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. - The AP
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Rains, Cooler Weather Help Firefighters Gain Ground on Large Wildfires in Southern New Mexico

Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.  - The AP
Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. - The AP

Recent rains and cooler weather are helping more than 1,000 firefighters gain ground on two wildfires in southern New Mexico on Saturday that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee.

Fire crews took advantage of temperatures in the 70s, scattered showers and light winds to use bulldozers to dig protective lines while hand crews used shovels in more rugged terrain to battle the fires near the mountain village of Ruidoso, The AP reported.

The South Fork Fire, which reached 26 square miles (67 square kilometers), was 26% contained, while the Salt Fire, at 12 square miles (31 square kilometers), was 7% contained as of Saturday morning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Full containment was not expected until July 15, per the agency.

Elsewhere in New Mexico, heavy rain and flash flood warnings prompted officials to order some mandatory evacuations Friday in the city of Las Vegas, New Mexico, and communities near Albuquerque, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of Ruidoso. Las Vegas set up shelters for displaced residents, and some evacuation orders remained in place there on Saturday.

Flash flood warnings were canceled Saturday, though the National Weather Service said afternoon storms could produce excessive runoff and more flooding in the area.

The wildfires have destroyed or damaged an estimated 1,400 structures. Other fallout from the fires — including downed power lines, damaged water, sewer and gas lines, flooding in burn scars — continued “to pose risks to firefighters and the public,” according to a Saturday update from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Evacuations in areas near Ruidoso and road closures were still in effect. In Ruidoso, full-time residents will be allowed to return Monday, though everyday life won’t return to normal.

“You’re going to need to bring a week’s worth of food, you’re going to need to bring drinking water,” Mayor Lynn Crawford said on Facebook.

President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration for parts of southern New Mexico on Thursday, freeing up funding and more resources to help with recovery efforts including temporary housing, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property and other emergency work in Lincoln County and on lands belonging to the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, met with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Crawford and Mescalero Apache President Thora Walsh Padilla on Saturday. “These communities have our support for as long as it takes to recover,” Criswell posted on the social media platform X.

Much of the Southwest has been exceedingly dry and hot in recent months. Those conditions, along with strong wind, whipped the flames out of control, rapidly advancing the South Fork Fire into Ruidoso in a matter of hours. Evacuations extended to hundreds of homes, businesses, a regional medical center and the Ruidoso Downs horse track.