They are scenes few would associate with Japan’s highest peak: human traffic jams, foothills littered with garbage and inappropriately attired hikers – some attempting the ascent in sandals.
But these sights are all too familiar for Miho Sakurai, a veteran ranger who has patrolled the slopes of Mount Fuji for the past seven years.
“There are definitely too many people on the mountain at the moment; the numbers are much higher than before,” Sakurai laments to CNN Travel.
When Mount Fuji was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2013, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), UNESCO’s advisory organ, urged mountain officials to manage the crowds.
However, the number of visitors to the mountain’s popular fifth hiking station has more than doubled from two million in 2012 to over five million visitors in 2019, according to the Yamanashi prefectural government.