An increase in the number of unprepared climbers on Mt. Fuji has become a headache for the Shizuoka prefectural government, which has been installing signs and creating multi-language videos to warn tourists to not take the hike lightly.
The move comes as the tallest peak in Japan, straddling Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, reopened to an influx of visitors last month for a hiking season after the country lifted all COVID-19 restrictions and marked the 10th anniversary of Mt. Fuji's registration as a World Heritage site in June.
The manager of an 8th station lodge deplored the reckless attitudes of some climbers and said he especially wants people to "refrain from 'bullet climbing,'" or the practice of climbing to reach the summit for sunrise without taking a break to sleep overnight.
Attempting to climb quickly in the darkness increases the risk of altitude sickness and falls, while people arriving at the summit early could also suffer from hypothermia.
He said a pair of overseas tourists who were unable to reserve a hut took turns to rest in the bathroom after complaining of stomachaches.
"It became a problem as people were unable to use the facilities," he said, adding he believes they were trying to warm up by sheltering there.
Some have also been attempting the climb without sufficient equipment or casual clothes, including short-sleeved shirts and shorts, although a website operated by the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Division of the Shizuoka prefectural government notes that temperatures at the summit "can dip below freezing even in midsummer."
To prevent climbers from underestimating the hike, the prefecture uploaded a guide in English with photographs of hikers who needed to be assisted off the mountain.
It has also created guides outlining rules and recommendations in six languages, all available on its official website.
"Mt. Fuji is not just any mountain," said Masayuki Oishi from the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Division. "We would like people to enjoy the climb while being properly prepared."