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Japan put black screen to protect Mount Fuji, now tourists are making holes to click pictures I WATCH

The town of Fujikawaguchiko has had enough of tourists. Known for a number of scenic photo spots that offer a near-perfect shot of Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji, the town constructed a large black screen to block the view of the mountain. The reason: misbehaving foreign tourists.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Tokyo Updated on: May 29, 2024 16:08 IST
A visitor tries to take a photo through a hole in a black
Image Source : AP A visitor tries to take a photo through a hole in a black screen installed across from a convenience store in Fujikawaguchiko town

A Japanese town that erected a huge black screen last week in an attempt to stop tourists from snapping photos of Mount Fuji and overcrowding the area has discovered holes in the screen and is working to repair them.

Fujikawaguchiko, a popular spot to view and photograph the iconic mountain, put up the screen last Tuesday, but the next day officials discovered a hole in it. By Tuesday morning, officials had found around 10 similar holes, all at eye level, and all apparently just the right size to fit a camera lens through.

One especially popular viewing location is outside a Lawson convenience store, from where photos taken at a certain angle would make it look as if Mount Fuji was sitting atop the store roof. Local residents have complained about visitors blocking the narrow sidewalk and walking into the busy road or onto neighbouring properties to get their shots, officials said.

India Tv - Black screen on a stretch of sidewalk at Fujikawaguchiko town

Image Source : APBlack screen on a stretch of sidewalk at Fujikawaguchiko town

The town spent 1.3 million yen ($8,285) to install the 2.5-meter (8.2-feet) -high black mesh net that stretches 20 meters (66 feet), and additional fences along the sidewalk. The screen has helped ease congestion in the area, officials said. Over-tourism has also become a growing issue at other popular tourist destinations such as Kyoto and Kamakura.

“Kawaguchiko is a town built on tourism, and I welcome many visitors, and the town welcomes them too, but there are many things about their manners that are worrying,” said Michie Motomochi, owner of a cafe serving Japanese sweets “ohagi,” near the soon-to-be-blocked photo spot.

Sudden popularity

Motomochi mentioned littering, crossing the road with busy traffic, ignoring traffic lights, and trespassing on private properties. She isn't unhappy though — 80% of her customers are foreign visitors whose numbers have surged after a pandemic hiatus that kept Japan closed for about two years.

India Tv - -A group of hikers climb to the top of Mount Fuji just before sunrise as clouds hang below the summi

Image Source : AP-A group of hikers climb to the top of Mount Fuji just before sunrise as clouds hang below the summit

Her neighbourhood suddenly became a popular spot about two years ago, apparently after a photo taken from a particular angle showing Mount Fuji in the background, as if sitting atop a local convenience store, became a social media sensation known as “Mt. Fuji Lawson,” town officials say.

The mostly foreign tourists have since crowded the small area, triggering a wave of concerns and complaints from residents about visitors blocking the narrow sidewalk, taking photos on the busy road or walking into neighbours’ properties, officials said.

Tourist overcrowding in Europe

In Europe, concerns over tourists overcrowding historic cities led Venice last week to launch a pilot program to charge day-trippers a 5-euro ($5.35) entry fee. Authorities hope it will discourage visitors from arriving on peak days and make the city more livable for its dwindling residents.

Fujikawaguchiko has tried other methods: signs urging visitors not to run into the road and to use the designated crosswalk in English, Chinese, Thai and Korean, and even hiring a security guard as crowd control. None worked.

India Tv -  The shadow of Mount Fuji is casted on clouds hanging below the summit

Image Source : AP The shadow of Mount Fuji is casted on clouds hanging below the summit

The black mesh net, when completed in mid-May, will be 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) high and 20 meters (65.6 feet) long, and will almost completely block the view of Mount Fuji, officials said. Dozens of tourists gathered Tuesday to take photos even though Mount Fuji was not in sight due to cloudy weather.

Anthony Hok, from France, thought the screen was an overreaction. “Too big solution for a subject not as big, even if tourists are making trouble. Doesn't look right to me," he said. The 26-year-old suggested setting up road barriers for safety instead of blocking views for pictures.

But Helen Pull, a 34-year-old visitor from the U.K., was sympathetic to the local concern. While travelling in Japan in the past few weeks, she has seen tourism “really ramped up here in Japan from what we've seen."

“I can see why people who live and work here might want to do something about that," she said, noting many were taking pictures even when the mountain was not in the view. "That's the power of the social media.”

Visitors flocked to Japan post-pandemic 

Foreign visitors have flocked to Japan since the pandemic border restrictions were lifted, in part due to the weaker yen. Last year, Japan had more than 25 million visitors, and the number this year is expected to surpass nearly 32 million, a record from 2019, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization. And the government wants more tourists.

India Tv - Snow-covered Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak at 3,776-meters tall.

Image Source : APSnow-covered Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak at 3,776 meters tall.

While the booming tourism has helped the industry, it has triggered complaints from residents in popular tourist destinations, such as Kyoto and Kamakura. In Kyoto, a famous geisha district recently decided to close some private property alleys. Locals are uncertain about what to do. Motomochi said she could not imagine how the black screen could help control the flow of people on the narrow pedestrian walk and the road next to it.

Yoshihiko Ogawa, who runs a more than half-century-old rice shop in the Fujikawaguchiko area, said the overcrowding worsened in the past few months, with tourists gathering from around 4-5 a.m. and talking loudly. He sometimes struggles to get his car in and out of the garage. “We’ve never thought we'd face a situation like this,” Ogawa said, adding he is unsure what the solution might be. “I suppose we all just need to get used to it.”

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Irritated by visitors' behaviour, this country is building giant black screen to block view of tourist place


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