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Thursday, 2nd July 2015
In General Japan News,

Climbing season begins on Mount Fuji

Some 180,000 climbers are expected to make the ascent of Mount Fuji over the next two months, as the season for such expeditions gets underway.

Yesterday (July 1st) was the official first day of climbing season on Japan's most famous peak, but those who attempted the challenge were thwarted by bad weather.

Authorities stopped climbers at the fifth station on the Yamanashi side of the volcano, due to high winds and rain.

So far, this route is the only one open, with the alternative Shikuoka side scheduled to welcome climbers from July 10th.

Mount Fuji stands 3,776 metres tall and is a popular challenge for outdoor enthusiasts, but conditions only make it climbable for two months of the year and as yesterday showed, even then there can be problems with the weather.

Due to problems of overcrowding on the mountain, which have occurred in recent years, 25,000 fewer people will be permitted to make the ascent than in 2014.

Previous seasons have seen some 10,000 people tackling Mount Fuji on a single day, which could not only lessen the enjoyment, but put climbers in danger.

Tour operators are therefore finding that many of their slots are filling up early, so that those keen to make it to the top do not miss their chance.

Mount Fuji has been a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site since 2013, which has made it even more popular to climb.

Both the Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectural governments have therefore started requesting climbers to pay 1,000 yen (£5.20) towards its upkeep.

This voluntary sum is then used to help protect the mountain, as well as put better infrastructure in place for visitors, including improved road access.

One of the amenities that will be available to climbers of Mount Fuji is free Wi-Fi, which has been made possible by NTT Docomo Inc.

It is thought that this will become operational on July 10th at selected hotspots, but its usefulness may be hampered by the sheer number of people trying to get online.

Several trailheads will be designated hotspots, but the most popular is likely to be the summit, as climbers share their joy at reaching the top on social media.

Those wishing to access the Wi-Fi will need to select Welcome_to_Fujisan_Summit and enter a password, which will be included on flyers handed out to visitors.

After initially logging on, climbers will then have up to 72 hours of free Wi-Fi on the network.

The official climbing season on Mount Fuji will come to an end for those tackling the volcano from the Yamanashi side on September 14th.

There will be almost a whole month of additional opportunities when accessed from the Shizuoka prefecture, as this side will not close until October 10th.

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and is actually an active stratovolcano, although it has not erupted since 1708.

It can be found on Honshu Island, around 100 kilometres from Tokyo, but despite the distance, it can be seen from the capital on clear days.

Related news stories:
Mt Fuji World Heritage registration is mixed blessing (26th June 2014)
Japan's hiking boom leads to well-maintained routes (7th August 2015)