Mt. Fuji Will Be Closed for the 2020 Climbing Season Due to the Coronavirus
All of the hiking routes up Mt. Fuji have officially been declared closed for the 2020 mountain climbing season, which typically lasts from early July through the beginning of September. The decision to keep the trails closed, announced on May 18th, is an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Read on for full details.
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All Four Climbing Routes Will Be Closed for the Year
Shizuoka Prefecture announced on May 18th that it will be keeping its three hiking routes to the summit of Mount Fuji closed during the 2020 climbing season. This follows an announcement three days prior by neighboring Yamanashi Prefecture, which also closed its single hiking route up the mountain. This means that all of the four hiking routes to the summit of Japan's iconic mountain will be closed for the climbing season, which would typically run from July 1st through September 10th.
The decision seems to have been made in an effort to prevent the spread of the current coronavirus pandemic by reducing the number of people concentrated on the hiking trail and in accommodations on the mountain and in nearby towns. According to Shizuoka Prefecture, this is the first time on record that all of the trails will be closed for a whole season (record-keeping began in 1960). In addition to the closure of the trails themselves, bus service to the mountain's 5th station will be suspended through the summer, with total closure of roads leading up the mountain a likelihood.
It's Just Hiking, Right? Does It Really Pose a Danger of Spreading the Virus?
Mt. Fuji is undeniably one of Japan's premier attractions in the summer months, with hundreds of thousands of people making the trek to the top each year. According to data from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, roughly 236,000 people climbed the mountain last year between July 1st and September 10th. Although the number of climbers has been falling off since its peak of more than 320,000 in 2010, Mount Fuji remains a huge draw for both domestic and international tourists.
Indeed, anyone who has experienced climbing the mountain in recent years can probably attest to the shocking crowdedness of the trails. During peak season, overnight mountain huts located along the trail are fully booked and the pathways themselves are often so crowded that hiking speed can crawl to a trickle as long queues of hikers form to traverse bottleneck points along the trail. With all these sweaty, panting climbers who have traveled from different parts of Japan or the world hiking and lodging in such close proximity, it is easy to see why the decision to close the mountain for this year was made. The conditions would be ripe for easy viral transmission.
Although climbing Mount Fuji won't be a possibility in 2020, it will still be possible to see it from afar and take beautiful photographs of its majestic slopes. For information on some fun places and activities near Mt. Fuji that will provide great views of the mountain, see our articles on Hakone, Shizuoka, and Lake Kawaguchi. Although it still remains uncertain how soon the current pandemic will subside, a glimmer of a hope that Japan will soon be able to reopen for tourism is starting to grow.
To learn about other coronavirus-related closures in Japan, see our article Latest Information Regarding Closures and Cancellations Related to Covid-19. For more general information about the current situation in Japan and how to stay safe while traveling, see our editorial page traveling safely in Japan.
Title image credit: martinho Smart / Shutterstock.com
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.