Japan Has Just Installed an ‘Anti-Tourist’ Fence to Purposefully Ruin One of Its Best Mount Fuji Views

In Fujikawaguchiko, a huge barrier has been put up to prevent crowds at a popular spot from viewing the iconic Japanese landmark.

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The people of Fujikawaguchiko, Japan are accustomed to a large number of tourists, perhaps even too many. This town in Yamanashi Prefecture, located less than an hour and a half from Tokyo by car, offers captivating views of Mount Fuji. The panorama of the iconic volcano seen from one of its streets has caused a sensation on social media, attracting hordes of visitors eager to capture the best photo or take the most impressive selfie. Interestingly, what has drawn tourists’ attention in Fujikawaguchiko recently isn't Mount Fuji, but rather a group of workers who have been busy setting up a fence.

Ironically, the purpose of the barrier is to obstruct the view of the mountain.

A treasure and a curse. The Fujikawaguchiko issue has been going on for a few weeks. The case is a perfect example of how something positive can quickly turn negative, or how easy it is to be a victim of your own success when it comes to tourism. The city, which is home to around 26,500 people, has stunning views of Mount Fuji, attracting crowds of tourists looking to capture the best possible photo of this iconic Japanese landmark.

By 2022, the quest for the perfect selfie had turned into a frenzy. When an influencer shared a photo of a Japanese Lawson chain store with Mount Fuji in the background, more and more tourists flocked to Fujikawaguchiko in search of the exact spot from where the picture was taken. The reason behind this rush was the popularity of the combination of Mount Fuji and Lawson. “A reputation has spread on social media that this spot is very Japanese,” a town official recently told Agence France-Presse.

A dangerous nuisance. So far, nothing surprising. But things got complicated due to two factors. First, a large number of tourists began to swarm that particular area of Fujikawaguchiko to add the famous photo of the mountain with the Lawson store in the foreground to their albums. Some people already refer to it as “Fuji Lawson.”

Second, some of these visitors became a real nuisance for the locals, throwing garbage on the street, blocking traffic, and ignoring the directions of the guards. They also parked without permission and even climbed forbidden places to get an even more spectacular image of Mount Fuji.

If you can’t beat them… block their view. Fujikawaguchiko authorities have taken an unusual measure to avoid the inconvenience and security problems caused by tourists in the Japanese resort town. They've decided to block the view of Mount Fuji from the popular tourist street, even though the mountain, located 37.2 miles away, is still visible from other areas.

Covering the 12,389-foot-high Mount Fuji would be quite a feat, so the town's authorities installed an 8-foot-high, 65-foot-long screen that obstructs the view from the popular lookout point.

An “anti-tourist” fence. The black screen was finally installed on Tuesday after several delays. Construction work began in the morning, and a few hours later, the Japan Times reported that the “anti-tourist” barrier was complete. The main objective was for the fence to be tall, practical, and effective, with aesthetics being of secondary importance.

Images captured by local and international media show a simple screen composed of posts, a wiring frame, and black mesh. Ironically, the fence’s construction attracted reporters and curious onlookers, achieving the opposite of its intended purpose.

“Someone will make a hole.” The reactions of visitors and locals were mixed in Fujikawaguchiko on Tuesday. Yuri Vavilin, a Kazakh tourist, told the BBC that he wouldn’t be surprised if people eager to take a picture of “Fuji Lawson” end up finding a way to get around the fence and peek through with their camera. “It may work for a few days. But I’m sure someone will make a hole [in it] and take a picture at some point,” he told the broadcaster.

Similarly, Kazuhiko Iwama, a 65-year-old neighbor who lives right across the street from the store, warns that curious onlookers may be encouraged to risk even more and go out into the street to take pictures. “They cross the street and they don’t seem to care about the cars at all,” he told the BBC. Before the screen was installed, local authorities had already opted for other solutions, such as posting warnings in English. The area also features iron bars to prevent dangerous crossings.

Mass tourism in the spotlight. The Fujikawaguchiko screen has attracted attention both in and outside of Japan. However, it’s just one more attempt by the country to balance the daily life of its inhabitants with its enormous popularity as a tourist destination.

Coinciding with the yen’s current weak status, Japan has received a remarkable influx of more than 3 million visitors two months in a row, which indicates a historic year for the sector. However, reconciling this tourism “boom” with the country’s routine and traditions isn't always easy. Japan recently announced restrictions on Kyoto’s geisha district and has also decided to charge a hiking fee for climbing Mount Fuji via the popular Yoshida trail, which is used by 60% of visitors.

Image | Hans-Johnson via Flickr

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