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Thursday, 5th September 2013
In Japan Travel News,

Drop off in Mt Fuji climbers

There has been a significant drop off in the number of people climbing Japan's famous Mount Fuji, government figures revealed this week.

According to numbers released by the Yamanashi Prefecture, where the mountain is located, showed that 232,682 climbed Mt Fuji during this year's climbing season between July 1st and August 31st, around 14,000 fewer than last year, Japan Today reported.

Although the first day of the climbing season was busy this year, with one and a half times more climbers making the ascent than on the first day of the 2012 season, visitor numbers fell off from that point, said the prefecture, with no single day exceeding 8,000 climbers.

Officials believe the fall in the number of climbers could be down to public appeals to refrain from potentially dangerous "speed climbs", where climbers attempt to reach the mountain's summit as quickly as possible.

Newly introduced restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed into the area could also have been a factor, said officials.

Mt Fuji is one of Japan's most iconic landmarks and was earlier this year awarded UNESCO World Heritage status this year.

The mountain proves a major draw for both climbers as well as other tourists who come simply to enjoy the view and surrounding natural landscape.

At 3,776.24m (12,389 ft), it is the highest peak in Japan and is hugely popular among both amateur and expert climbers. Most climbers set out from the fifth of ten mountain stations located at a high of about 2,300 metres. From here, the climb can take anywhere from between three and eight hours, depending on the route taken.

Last month, meanwhile, saw the holding of mountain's annual fire festival, which took place at Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine.

The event, a tradition stretching back 500 years, sees a number of portable shrines carried through the city of Yoshida, at the foot of Mt Fuji, throughout the day as part of ritual intended to prevent the dormant volcano from erupting.

Written by Graham McPherson

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