Japan town begins blocking Mt Fuji view from 'bad-mannered' tourists

Caroline Gardin - Agence France-Presse
Japan town begins blocking Mt Fuji view from 'bad-mannered' tourists
A tourist poses in front of a convenience store with Mount Fuji on May 3, 2024, before a huge black barrier which will be installed to block Mount Fuji from view, in the town of Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi prefecture
AFP / Philip Fong

FUJIKAWAGUCHIKO, Japan — Work has begun in a small Japanese town to erect a barrier blocking views of the country's most famous sight, Mount Fuji, after locals complained of bad behaviour by photo-hungry tourists.

Fujikawaguchiko town began building panels of mesh netting at a spot where unending flows of mostly foreign tourists visit daily to take photos of the majestic mountain sitting behind a Lawson convenience store.

Photos taken from a narrow stretch of pavement across a busy road from the Lawson store -- which are ubiquitous in Japan -- are widely shared online.

Local officials and residents say while the town welcomes visitors, they need to stop tourists from continuously crossing the street, ignoring red lights, littering, trespassing, illegally parking and smoking outside of designated areas.

"It became not uncommon for people to yell at us when we asked them to move their cars, and for them to throw their lit cigarettes (on the ground)," a dentist's office located across the street from the Lawson shop said in a statement.

By the middle of this month, the town plans to complete the barrier, which will stand 2.5 metres (8 feet) high and stretch more than 20 metres long to block the view of the mountain, with hopes that it will discourage tourists from loitering there.

The town's move has prompted national and international headlines, as Japan experiences growing problems of overtourism, particularly at popular sites like the narrow private alleys of Kyoto, and even trails on Mount Fuji itself, where tourists love to photograph themselves and post on social media.

The Fujikawaguchiko town hall has been inundated with telephone calls from Japanese people, many of them non-local residents, who have criticised the move to block the view.

"It is not that we do not want people to see Mount Fuji. The issue is that there are so many people who are not able to observe basic rules," a town official told AFP.

 'Basic manners'

Having the net barrier is unfortunate but perhaps necessary, area residents say.

"We welcome foreigners for the revitalisation of the community, but there are so many violations of basic manners, like crossing the road, dumping garbage and trespassing into people's properties," a 60-year-old resident told AFP.

"After all, they are here for Mount Fuji, so having that barrier is very unfortunate," said the woman, who identified herself as Watanabe.

"There might have been other ways to deal with it, but for now I feel it cannot be helped," she said.

Some tourists expressed understanding and voiced hopes that the town would create a designated photo spot.

But others speculated that the barrier may only make matters worse.

"Stop people? I don't think so because when there is a will there is a way. People will just be on the left side of it or right side of it," said 29-year-old Australian tourist Trinity Robinson.

"There definitely will be a way to still get the shot. It will just be more dangerous, really."

As a possible solution, a 37-year-old local man, who gave his name as Ama, called on visitors to check out other scenic locations in the area.

"Mount Fuji from here (near the Lawson shop) is fantastic. But there are so many other places around here where you can visit and see beautiful views," he said.

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