Japan blocks photo spot of Mount Fuji, but tourists find another


Workers installing a barrier to block the sight of Japan's Mount Fuji emerging from behind a convenience store on May 21, to deter badly behaved tourists. - AFP

TOKYO: A large black cloth has proven to be a successful attempt at deterring tourists from taking photos of Mount Fuji at a popular viewing spot in the town of Fujikawaguchiko.

Eager to nab a shot with the snow-capped mountain in the background, foreign visitors would often trespass and break traffic rules in front of a Lawson convenience store.

Their behaviour spurred the town to install a black netting measuring 2.5m by 20m in front of the Kawaguchiko Ekimae Lawson store on May 21.

Mayor Hideyuki Watanabe at a May 24 news conference said he feared a drop in tourist footfall following the erection of the cloth, but prioritised the safety of residents and tourists.

The decision was described as an “anguished” one by town officials, reported The Asahi Shimbun.

But eagle-eyed tourists have found a replacement for their photo opportunity – a spot in front of yet another Lawson store about 1km away – and the authorities might soon have to put up another mesh sheet.

The sidewalk in front of the Machiyakubamae Lawson store provides a photo opportunity reminiscent of the one at the Ekimae store, and has been growing in popularity.

According to the town’s tourism division, the number of tourists in front of the Machiyakubamae store has spiked since the beginning of 2024, reported The Asahi Shimbun.

On days with a clear view of Mount Fuji, there would be 50 to 60 people taking pictures at any point in time, added the division.

The sidewalk and the carpark of the store were crowded with about 60 tourists in the afternoon of May 16, said the media outlet. Tour buses streamed into the carpark.

But there are no plans to erect another large black sheet, said Watanabe.

He expressed his desire to remove the sheet in front of the Ekimae store as soon as possible, but town officials have said it would be taken down only after a marked improvement in tourist behaviour.

The installation of a QR code on the sheet, which aims to guide tourists to other photo hotspots, is also in the works.

As at recent times, the town government has not received complaints of unruly behaviour or disturbances at the area of the second Lawson store.

“We hope that (tourists) will behave properly so that a second sheet need not be installed at this Lawson,” said the head of Fujikawaguchiko’s tourism Masakazu Togawa.

Lawson is also considering asking travel agencies to remove its stores from itineraries due to safety reasons.

A representative of the convenience store franchise chain said it had learnt through recent reports that its stores had become stopping points on tours.

While the surroundings of the Machiyakubamae store remain peaceful, some residents have decided to take preventive measures.

Across the street, a house has a sign on display. In both English and Chinese, it relays a resounding message: “Private Property. Keep Out!” - The Straits Times/ANN

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Japan , Lawson , Mt Fuji , tourists

   

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