Japan’s Mount Fuji to Limit Visitors Through New Online Reservation System

As the summer climbing season approaches, local authorities in Japan have announced a new entry fee and daily visitor cap for their popular trail up Mount Fuji in an effort to reduce congestion around the iconic mountain and curb the damaging effects of overtourism.

The paid reservation system, officially launching on July 1 until September 10, allows those wishing to ascend Mount Fuji to book slots online starting May 20.

A Yamanashi prefecture government official told CNN in an interview that “overtourism—and all the subsequent consequences like rubbish, rising CO2 emissions and reckless hikers—is the biggest problem facing Mount Fuji.”

A booking, which costs 2,000 Yen (or about $13), covers entrance to the Yoshida Trail, which is used by about 60% of visitors and is one of four entrances to the mountain. A gate will be installed at the entrance of the fifth station of the Yoshida trail, which will only open from 3 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Authorities said the gate closures will help to address the problem of overcrowding, as many climbers want to go up Mount Fuji to witness sunrise at the summit and descend quickly afterward. Hikers who stay in mountain huts in the area will be allowed to go through the gate beyond its limited hours.

Online reservations must be made at least a day in advance of a planned hike, and there is a 4,000-person daily cap on the number of people who can go up Mount Fuji through Yoshida. Climbers will need to show a QR code to verify their booking, but at least 1,000 of those slots may be booked on site, according to local news outlet .

Before the new system, visitors were asked to pay a voluntary fee of 1,000 Yen to help fund the operation of certain facilities like first aid stations and portable toilets. The additional mandatory fee is expected to cover maintenance expenses at the gate and trail, support for foreigner hikers, and disaster response services.

Shizuoka prefecture, which oversees the three other Mount Fuji trails, will not collect additional fees on top of those already in place for conservation efforts but will also launch a pre-registration system to manage entry into the mountain grounds.

Designated a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) heritage site since 2013, the 3,776-m. tall Mount Fuji is a major tourist attraction that seems to get more popular every year. The Yoshida Trail’s fifth station—a spot some 2,300 m. above sea level that functions as the hub for tourists visiting the mountain—reportedly recorded more than visitors in 2019, double what it recorded in 2012. Data from shows that since 2014, except during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of visitors to Mount Fuji during the hiking season from July to September has been consistently above 200,000.

But overtourism has become a major problem. Mount Fuji’s peak has been crowded, its trails littered with , and anecdotes of inappropriate behavior like setting up campfires in an already crowded area as well as wearing sandals and shorts for the hike are becoming increasingly common. Communities around the mountain have been dealing with similar concerns: in April, also frustrated by overtourism, authorities in a nearby town of the mountain’s summit.