Japan
Another Japanese Town to Erect Fence Around Scenic Bridge to Block Mount Fuji View

In recent months, a scenic bridge in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, has become a significant social media hotspot. The bridge, located on Route 139, offers an impressive view of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest and most iconic peak. The popularity of this site has skyrocketed, attracting tourists from all over the world who are keen to capture the perfect picture of Mount Fuji.

Fujikawaguchiko’s Attempt to Control the Crowd

Last month, the town of Fujikawaguchiko took drastic measures to manage the influx of tourists by erecting a large black mesh barrier. This barrier was intended to block the view of Mount Fuji from a popular photo spot outside a convenience store. The measure was part of the town’s effort to address the disruptions caused by the high volume of visitors, particularly foreign tourists.

Despite Fujikawaguchiko’s efforts, the solution proved ineffective. Tourists began poking holes through the mesh screen to get a glimpse of the mountain. The town now plans to rebuild the barrier with stronger materials to better withstand the determined visitors.

Fuji City Takes Similar Steps

Inspired by Fujikawaguchiko’s actions, Fuji City, home to the “Fuji Dream Bridge,” has announced plans to erect a similar barrier. This bridge, which is a regular overpass for locals, has become a favored spot for tourists due to its direct alignment with Mount Fuji. Haruhito Yoshizaki, a tourism official in Fuji City, explained that the influx of tourists has led to numerous complaints from residents.

Many tourists have been seen jaywalking across the road to reach the central area of the bridge, where they pose for photos and videos. The number of visitors has surged to over 100 on an average weekend day. Despite clear signage instructing people to stay off the road, many tourists disregard the warnings, causing traffic disruptions and posing safety risks.

Residents’ Concerns and Complaints

Local residents have voiced their concerns about the disruptive behavior of tourists. Complaints include illegal parking, littering, loud noises, and even instances of tourists defecating in public. The situation has become so problematic that local authorities have decided to take preventive measures by installing a 1.8-meter high metal mesh fence around the area.

Miyu Toyama, from the city government’s Exchange Tourism Division, noted that the issue began in December of the previous year when a foreign influencer posted images of the bridge on Instagram. This led to a surge in the number of visitors, most of whom are foreigners rather than Japanese locals.

Balancing Tourism and Community Welfare

The surge in tourism has been a double-edged sword for the local communities around Mount Fuji. On one hand, it has brought economic benefits and international attention. On the other hand, it has led to significant disruptions in the daily lives of residents. The towns of Fujikawaguchiko and Fuji City are striving to find a balance between welcoming tourists and maintaining community welfare.

Japan’s Tourism Boom

The situation at the Fuji Dream Bridge and Fujikawaguchiko reflects a broader trend in Japan. The country has been experiencing a record number of overseas tourists. Monthly visitors exceeded three million for the first time in March, and this record was matched again in April. The influx of tourists has been fueled by Japan’s rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and the country’s overall appeal as a travel destination.

The Role of Social Media

The role of social media in influencing travel trends cannot be overstated. Platforms like Instagram have a significant impact on tourism, as images and videos shared by influencers can quickly popularize previously unknown spots. This phenomenon, known as “Instagram tourism,” has led to the discovery and, at times, the over-tourism of scenic spots worldwide.

Potential Solutions and Future Measures

To address the challenges posed by the influx of tourists, local authorities in tourist hotspots are exploring various solutions.

  • Stricter Regulations: Implementing stricter rules and penalties for illegal activities such as jaywalking, littering, and illegal parking.
  • Enhanced Infrastructure: Improving infrastructure to better accommodate tourists, including designated photo spots and proper waste disposal facilities.
  • Community Engagement: Engaging with the local community to gather feedback and develop solutions that benefit both residents and tourists.
  • Sustainable Tourism Campaigns: Promoting sustainable tourism practices to encourage tourists to respect local customs and the environment.

The scenic bridge in Shizuoka prefecture and the measures taken by Fujikawaguchiko and Fuji City highlight the complexities of managing popular tourist destinations. While the allure of capturing the perfect shot of Mount Fuji continues to attract visitors, it is crucial to find ways to balance tourism with the well-being of local communities. As Japan continues to welcome record numbers of tourists, the experiences of these towns may serve as valuable lessons in sustainable tourism management.

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