A Railway on Mt. Fuji?! Why Critics Are Crying Foul

Mt. Fuji may lose its World Heritage Status if it can’t control overtourism. But one proposed solution — a railway — has critics up in arms.

Unseen Japan

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By Himari Semans

Light rail on Mt. Fuji

Yamanashi Prefecture’s governor is concerned about overtourism at Mt. Fuji. His plan? Put light rail on the mountain. Sadly for the governor, not everyone’s on board with a plan that critics say will spoil the sacredness of the beloved mountain.

A briefing of skeptics

Mt. Fuji
Picture: よっちゃん必撮仕事人 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Thursday this week, Yamanashi Governor Nagasaki Kotaro held the second resident briefing on the prefectural government’s plan. The goal: lay down tracks for a light rail transit (LRT) system on Mt. Fuji. The move is aimed at limiting overtourism, which has riddled the World Heritage Site since its designation by UNESCO a decade ago.

The briefing took place in Fujiyoshida, the biggest city around the northern base of the mountain. Governor Nagasaki spoke for nearly 45 minutes to about 780 residents including Fujiyoshida Mayor Horiuchi Shigeru, an opposing critic. The LRT is a next-generation tramway whose construction is estimated to cost ¥140 billion ($936 million USD).

Governor Nagasaki said, “[We] share your wishes to protect Mt. Fuji. The LRT is one proposal [to protect Mt. Fuji]. [We] want to receive a lot of feedback and lead the way to the best solution.”

The governor’s comment referred to Mayor Horiuchi’s previous claims that construction would scar the “sacred” mountain, which soars 3,776 meters above sea level.

Mt. Fuji, deified as the fire-breathing mountain deity Asama-no-Okami (浅間大神), has been an object of religious worship for centuries, according to the Fujisan World Cultural Heritage Council.

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