Japanese Town Aims to Block View of Mount Fuji to Reduce Tourists

    09 May 2024

    A Japanese town hopes to keep out crowds of visitors by building a large barrier to block views of the country's tallest mountain, Mount Fuji.

    The town is called Fujikawaguchiko. It sits on Japan's main island of Honshu, southwest of Tokyo. The community is known for having good spots for taking pictures of Mount Fuji.

    But some locals and business owners feel there are too many misbehaving tourists. In an effort to reduce the number of visitors, city workers have started building a large black screen to block views of Mount Fuji.

    Workers set up a barricade near the Lawson convenience store, background, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Fujikawaguchiko town, central Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
    Workers set up a barricade near the Lawson convenience store, background, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, at Fujikawaguchiko town, central Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

    Michie Motomochi owns a restaurant that serves Japanese sweets near the soon-to-be-blocked photo spot. She told The Associated Press that while she welcomes visitors to the area, "there are many things about their manners that are worrying."

    Motomochi said she has seen visitors crossing the road in busy traffic, leaving waste on streets, ignoring stop lights and trespassing onto private property.

    She noted, however, that about 80 percent of her business is driven by foreign visitors. Tourist numbers have been rising in Japan since restrictions were lifted after the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Motomochi said her neighborhood suddenly became a popular spot for visitors about two years ago. That is when a photo taken in the area went viral on the internet. The photo showed Mount Fuji in the background. But it appeared as though the mountain was sitting on top of a local store called Lawson.

    Town officials say the photo was widely shared on social media and became known online as "Mt. Fuji Lawson." Since then, foreign tourists have crowded the neighborhood.

    The town has tried other methods to limit bad behaviors by tourists. The town put up signs in several languages urging visitors not to run into the road. It has provided information about crosswalks. And it even hired security guards.

    The black screen is expected to be completed in the middle of May. It will stand 2.5 meters high and 20 meters long. Officials say the barrier will almost completely block the view of Mount Fuji.

    French tourist Anthony Hok told the AP he thinks the screen was an overreaction by city officials. He said the solution seemed "too big" for the problem the town was facing. The 26-year-old visitor suggested setting up road barriers for safety instead of blocking views for pictures.

    But Helen Pull, a 34-year-old visitor from Britain, said she understood the local concerns. She said she had seen tourism "really ramped up" in the country. "I can see why people who live and work here might want to do something about that," Pull added.

    Yoshihiko Ogawa runs an old rice shop in the Fujikawaguchiko area. He said overcrowding there had worsened in recent months, with tourists gathering from around 4 or 5 in the morning and talking loudly. Ogawa said crowds in the area also sometimes block his car.

    "We've never thought we'd face a situation like this," Ogawa told the AP. But he added that he was unsure what the right solution might be. "I suppose we all just need to get used to it," he said.

    I'm Bryan Lynn.

    Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press.


    Words in This Story

    tourist – n. someone who visits a place for pleasure and does not live there

    screen – n. a large, flat surface often used to project pictures or video

    manners n. behaving in a nice and respectful way with other people

    trespass – v. to go onto someone's land without permission

    background n. parts of a picture that appear behind the main subjectt

    ramp up v. to increase or grow