Should climbing a mountain or entering a national park be free of charge? This is a question that officials near Mount Fuji, Japan's largest mountain, are asking as the number of climbers are soaring. Shigeru Horiuchi, mayor of Fuji-Yoshida in Yamanashi Prefecture, says: "I would like to consider an entrance fee as part of our measures to deal with Mount Fuji's environment issues."
One of the most pressing concerns is how to deal with garbage and toilet use, as the most popular way to climb is to walk through the night, in order to see the sunrise in the early morning. Others are enjoying the lower stages of the climb, that are relatively easy, only to be surprised by the later hardships near the summit.
The Mount Fuji climb is free today, with visitors traditionally leaving a tip when they use the public toilets. Buying souvenirs, like the wooden walking stick, is another way for people to contribute to the maintanence of facilities along the route.
New bio toilets have been installed here to avoid some of the hygiene troubles in the past. Over 300,000 climbers made the journey in 2008. Officials want to charge a fee of between 500 yen and 1,000 yen (up to $10) per climber and use the money for trail repairs, garbage collection and additional personnel at first aid stations, according to The Asahi.
Photo: Future Perfect
It seems nothing - not even a mountain that is still considered as holy by many - is too sacred for those who want us to pay money in exchange for goods and services. On the other hand, as more and more visitors see this as yet another tourist attraction, perhaps it is inevitable that we must pay to play.
Brought to you by Martin Frid at greenz.jp