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Japanese town blocks view of Mt. Fuji to deter hordes of tourists

Man flies around Mt. Fuji using jet-powered wing 00:45

The town of Fuji Kawaguchiko is known for its view of Mt. Fuji – but if local officials get their way, it won't be any more. After too many tourists flocked to the small town to get a glimpse of the iconic mountain skyline, local officials decided to put up a screen to block the scene at a popular viewing spot. 

Locals complained about tourists jaywalking, littering and crowding the area around a convenience store known for its view of Mt. Fuji, BBC News reports. Dubbed "Mt. Fuji Lawson," the store is a common Japanese franchise – but this one had tourists coming out in droves for the stunning view behind it.

Local officials announced in April that they would be blocking the view of the mountain to curb the foot traffic and this week, they made good on that promise, putting up a screen.

A photo shows an image of Mt. Fuji on a convenience store in Fujikawaguchiko Town, Yamanashi Prefecture on April 29, 2024. This spot has been crowded by foreign tourists because it looks like Mt. Fuji is standing on top of a convenience store Lawson. Makoto Kimura / AP

Sixty-five-year-old Kazuhiko Iwama, who has a view of Mt. Fuji from his house, told BBC News that tourists "cross the street and they don't seem to care about the cars at all, it is dangerous. And they leave trash and cigarette butts everywhere."

"I feel sad for those tourists who come all the way to see the view and take pictures, but traffic here is quite heavy, and we are all very concerned about accidents," said 73-year-old local Kikue Katsumata.

The town began to get an influx of tourists as post-pandemic travel increased and the Japanese yen weakened, meaning people from other countries can get more for their money there.

A construction work progresses to install a net that will obscure Mt. Fuji in front of Lawson in Fujikawaguchiko Town, Yamanashi Prefecture on May 21, 2024. This spot has been crowded by foreign tourists because it looks like Mt. Fuji is standing on top of a convenience store, and Fujikawaguchiko Town decided to set 20-meter-wide, 2.5-meter-high black net on the sidewalk of the opposite side of the store that blocks view of Mount Fuji.  Makoto Kimura / AP

Social media also played a role in the spot's popularity. "I think one person posted a cool picture of themselves in front of this Lawson and it went viral and everybody decided 'I want to go there. I want that picture on my Instagram,'" Maddison Verb, an American tourist, told BBC News. 

Germany tourist Coralie Nieke said a crossing guard is now at the infamous location, stopping people from crossing the street. "If I didn't have social media, I wouldn't have come here. I wouldn't even have known that this place existed," Nieke said. 

In January, travel creator and photographer Luke Cameron posted a video on TikTok highlighting 10 of the best places in Japan to see Mt. Fuji and the Lawson store was second on the list. 

TikTok is filled with videos from travelers who took Cameron's advice and visited the Lawson store. While some pf the posts depict a picturesque spot that serves as an opportunity to get a photo with a convenience store juxtaposed with a natural wonder, others show a different side of the area.

TikToker @heaatherrrrrr shared a video of the crowds of people across the street from the store, saying her expectations were different than reality. "I had a feeling this would be the situation but I didn't expect the lines on both sides of the street," she wrote.

Many other content creators showed the reality of the Mt. Fuji Lawson, with crowds people standing across the street, holding up their cameras to get a shot of the mountain in the background. 

One content creator, who goes by @spicybananas, visited the spot on May 12 and advised other travelers to get there soon before local officials put up the sheet to block the view.

Fuji Kawaguchiko is about an hour's drive north of Mt. Fuji, which is in Japan's Shizuoka prefecture. While the distance gives tourists in the rural town a good view, the 12,388-foot mountain is also viewable from surrounding lakes and from Tokyo Tower in the country's capital. 

On Cameron's list of spots to view the mountain: Lake Yamanaka, Tenku-no Torii – a shrine built as a place to pray near the mountain – Lake Kawaguchigo, Honcho Street in Fujiyoshida, Chureito Pagoda, restaurant Hoto Fudo, trains and rail stations near Mt. Fuji and pagoda Arakura Shrine. 

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