mount fuji climbing season startsTOKYO —The Mount Fuji climbing season opened on Tuesday morning with huge numbers of climbers expected in July and August. About 100 climbers were on hand to see the sunrise at 4:40 a.m. Tuesday, NHK reported. The Yamanashi side opened Tuesday, while the Shizuoka side will open to climbers on July 10.

About 300,000 people are expected to climb the 3,776-meter mountain over the next two months, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. Tour operators have reported that many climbs are already fully booked. However, authorities are worried about climbers’ safety as numbers can exceed 10,000 on some days. The overcrowded conditions also create a garbage problem.

As they did last year, the Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectural governments is asking climbers to pay a fee of 1,000 yen on a voluntary basis. The money will be used to help preserve the area’s natural beauty. Hordes of trekkers flocked to Mount Fuji last year after it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of its status as a symbol of Japan. Local officials are pondering how to improve traffic access and other facilities after last year’s big increase in visitors. 

The climbing season will close on Sept 14 on the Yamanashi side and Oct 10 on the Shizuoka side.

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