June 21, 2024

Tourists eager to see Japan’s Mount Fuji have already started poking holes in a new barrier designed to prevent bad behaviour at a popular panoramic spot.

The installation of a black mesh screen in Fujikawaguchiko was only completed one week ago, and was carried out by officials in Yamanashi prefecture after locals became increasingly frustrated with the influx of foreign visitors who were littering, trespassing and breaking traffic rules in a bid to capture social media worthy perfect photos.

A security guard, stationed at the Lawson’s convenience store where the viewing spot has been blocked off, said he noticed small holes started appearing in the morning or evening while no one was watching.

“It’s about manners. It’s a shame,” the security guard told the AFP news agency. He said the holes were big enough for fingers to go through but still not for a camera to capture an Instagram-worthy shot showing Fuji’s snow-capped volcano.

A person takes pictures of Mount Fuji from across the street of a convenience store, hours before the installation of a barrier
A person takes pictures of Mount Fuji from across the street of a convenience store, hours before the installation of a barrier (AFP via Getty Images)

A town official said he tried to put a camera against one of the holes but did not manage to get a perfect shot. “Did I take a good picture? In fact, I think the net came into the frame,” the official said.

Tired of crowding and unruly tourists, officials in the Japanese resort town last week installed netting measuring 20m by 2.5m, which they say has proved effective.

“There have been some people who came to see the screen itself. But we have achieved the purpose of discouraging people from staying there,” the town official said.

The narrow street in question offers a view of the perennially snow capped mountain soaring above a branch of the Lawson’s convenience store chain. Local residents say the large numbers who flock to the spot often park illegally or block other pedestrians from using the pavement, and even cause accidents.

Once the photo booth-like spot in front of the convenience store loses popularity, the black screen might go away, the town official said.

In the meantime, they are now planning to install QR codes on the netting screen linking to information on other tourist spots for visits, including alternative places from which to take photos of Mount Fuji.

Travellers have returned in huge numbers to Japan since it reopened to foreign tourists following the pandemic lockdown, with more than three million per month visiting in March and April 2024 – a new record, and part of a trend that seems likely to continue.

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