Gate Installed on Mount Fuji Trail to Control Crowds, Governor Says More Measures Needed

 Workers set up a gate at the 5th station for a trail to Mt. Fuji, in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi prefecture, Japan Monday, June 17, 2024. (Kyodo News via AP)
Workers set up a gate at the 5th station for a trail to Mt. Fuji, in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi prefecture, Japan Monday, June 17, 2024. (Kyodo News via AP)
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Gate Installed on Mount Fuji Trail to Control Crowds, Governor Says More Measures Needed

 Workers set up a gate at the 5th station for a trail to Mt. Fuji, in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi prefecture, Japan Monday, June 17, 2024. (Kyodo News via AP)
Workers set up a gate at the 5th station for a trail to Mt. Fuji, in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi prefecture, Japan Monday, June 17, 2024. (Kyodo News via AP)

A crowd-control gate was installed halfway up Japan's Mount Fuji on Monday ahead of the July 1 start of this year's climbing season, but the governor of Yamanashi, one of the two prefectures that are home to the mountain, said additional measures are needed to control overcrowding on its lower slopes.

The gate was completed as part of a new set of rules that Yamanashi is introducing this year to address growing safety, environmental and overcrowding problems on the mountain.

The newly installed gate will be closed between 4 p.m. and 3 a.m. to lock out those who have not booked an overnight stay at a hut along the Yoshida trail, which is used by most climbers, mainly to stop “bullet climbing," or rushing to the summit without adequate rest, considered a major safety risk. A maximum of 4,000 climbers will be allowed to enter the trail per day.

“The restrictions that will take effect this year are measures to address the problems that are putting climbers' lives at risk,” Yamanashi Gov. Kotaro Nagasaki said at a news conference in Tokyo. He said the number of climbers on the trail this year is expected to surpass last year's 137,236.

“Overcrowding near the summit could lead to a major disaster, like people falling in a domino effect,” he said.

Under the new system, climbers must make reservations and choose between a day hike or an overnight stay at one of several huts along the trail. There is a mandatory hiking fee of 2,000 yen (about $12.70) and an optional donation of 1,000 yen (about $6.35) for conservation.

A QR code is sent to climbers' smartphones to be scanned at the gate, which is halfway up the mountain in an area known as the fifth station, where the Yoshida trail begins. There are 10 stations on the mountain.

Nagasaki said he is confident that the new measures will ease overcrowding on the upper reaches of Mount Fuji, but that problems remain lower down.

He pledged to ease over-tourism on the lower levels and their surroundings, possibly by introducing a mountain railway to the fifth station, which currently can be reached by cars and buses, while promoting traditional climbing routes from the mountain's foot.

Shizuoka prefecture, which also contains part of the mountain, currently imposes no mandatory hiking restrictions. On June 10, it began an online registration system in which climbers fill in their hiking plans and are encouraged not to climb after 4 p.m.

Mount Fuji, long a symbol of Japan, was once a place for pilgrimages. Today, it attracts tens of thousands of people who hike to the summit to watch the sunrise. But the tons of trash left behind, including plastic bottles and food, have become a major concern.

Recently, the town of Fujikawaguchiko in Yamanashi erected a large black screen along a sidewalk to block the view of Mount Fuji after tourists began crowding the area to take photos of the mountain appearing to sit on the roof of a convenience store, a social media trend known as “Mount Fuji Lawson” that disrupted businesses, traffic and local life.

Overtourism has also become a growing problem for other popular tourist destinations like Kyoto as foreign visitors flock to Japan, in part because of the weaker yen.



Man Kills Grizzly Bear in Montana after it Attacks

FILE - US Highway 89 is shown near Gardiner, Mo., on July 15, 2020. (Brett French/Billings Gazette via AP)
FILE - US Highway 89 is shown near Gardiner, Mo., on July 15, 2020. (Brett French/Billings Gazette via AP)
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Man Kills Grizzly Bear in Montana after it Attacks

FILE - US Highway 89 is shown near Gardiner, Mo., on July 15, 2020. (Brett French/Billings Gazette via AP)
FILE - US Highway 89 is shown near Gardiner, Mo., on July 15, 2020. (Brett French/Billings Gazette via AP)

A 72-year-old man picking huckleberries in Montana shot and killed a grizzly bear after it attacked in a surprise encounter and injured him badly enough that he had to be hospitalized, authorities said Friday.
The man was alone on national forest land when the adult female charged him Thursday. He suffered significant injuries before killing the bear with a handgun, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials said.
The bear was likely reacting defensively to protect cubs, agency spokesperson Dillon Tabish said.
Wildlife workers set out game cameras in the area to try to confirm the presence of any cubs. If cubs are found, it's uncertain if they would be captured because it is difficult to find facilities qualified to take them, The Associated Press quoted him as saying.
“Depending on the age, we might leave them in the wild because they have a better chance of survival, rather than have to euthanize them,” Tabish said.
The attack happened on the Flathead National Forest about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) north of Columbia Falls, a northwestern Montana city of about 5,500 people, according to the state wildlife agency.
The victim's name and further details on his condition were not released.
Meanwhile, Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff shot and killed an adult female grizzly Thursday after it had become accustomed to seeking out food from people and breaking into houses in and around Gardiner, a town of about 800 people just north of Yellowstone National Park.
Pet food, garbage and barbeque grills left outside and accessible to bears contributed to the problem, according to a department statement. No people were hurt by the bear before it was shot in the Yellowstone River.
Wildlife managers sometimes capture and move grizzly bears that are known to cause problems for people. But they will kill ones involved in predatory attacks on people or if they are deemed likely to keep causing problems regardless of being moved.