Big news for Japan lovers and travellers:
Mount Fuji has officially been registered as UNESCO World Heritage Site on June 22nd, 2013.
Chureito Pagoda in Yoshida (Yamanashi Prefecture), December 2010
Iconic symbol of Japan – Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji (富士山) is Japan’s highest mountain (3776m). It’s also an active volcano, but hasn’t erupted since the early 18th century. Shaped like a symmetrical cone it’s the pride of Japan. Its beauty has inspired people since ancient times.
The mountain is so huge that it’s located in two prefectures: Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture.
Furthermore, on a clear day it can be seen even from far away places like Tokyo or Hakone.
Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko (Yamanashi Prefecture), December 2010
Registration as a World Heritage Site
A decade ago (in 2003) Japan wanted to register its iconic mountain, but because of several issues it was decided not to do it at that time. Instead Japan applied in 2012.
This month it was finally recognized as a World Heritage Site at the annual UNESCO conference which was held in Cambodia.
However, it was not registered as “natural site”, but as “cultural site” under the title “Mt. Fuji: Object of Worship, Wellspring of Art”.
That’s because Mt. Fuji has been a very important place of worship since ancient times. It’s also a favorite theme in classical and modern art. One example is the world-famous Ukiyo-e (浮世絵) art by Katsuhika Hokusai.
Prime Minister Abe was very happy upon hearing the good news: “Japanese have been inspired and encouraged by the varying beauty of Mount Fuji since ancient times”.
With this Mt. Fuji has become Japan’s 17th World Heritage site. Nowadays there are already 21!
Shiba-zakura Festival near Kawaguchiko (Yamanashi Prefecture), May 2013
Introducing an entrance fee for Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is very popular among tourists from all over the world. Not only taking photos from far away, but actually climbing the scenic volcano is something that many tourists want to do when in Japan. In recent years there were around 300,000 visitors per season.
After the mountain has been registered as World Heritage, Japan expects more tourists than ever before. In order to protect the environment that has already suffered from the swarms of tourists in previous years, it has been declared that there will be an entrance fee from now on.
This year there will be a testing phase. Right now it seems like around 1000 yen will be charged per person. For 2014 it might become more expensive. “7000 yen per climber are necessary” according to Mr. Kuriyama, a professor at Kyoto University. The decision about the exact fee for 2014 will probably be based on this year’s testing phase. The money will be used for environmental protection measures.
However, for tourists who want to climb Mt. Fuji, it means that they’ll have to calculate more money when planning their trip. Please keep that in mind!
Official climbing season usually starts on July 1st.
Google celebrates Mt. Fuji’s new status
Even Google Japan had a little doodle to celebrate the World Heritage status of Mount Fuji!
Sources and further reading:
- Local residents celebrate Mt Fuji’s World Heritage status by Japan Today
- Mount Fuji named World Heritage site by The Japan Times