Located on the island of Honshū, the gigantic 3776-metre high volcanic summit of Mount Fuji is not only the tallest mountain in Japan, it has come to be an instantly recognisable iconic symbol of the country. Now, for the first time in 60 years, all of its hiking trails will be closed at the same time due to restrictions caused by COVID-19.

Shizuoka Prefecture is responsible for three of the four major routes to the summit of Mount Fuji and announced this week that they would remain closed during the summer period as the country continues its efforts to keep cases of coronavirus down and stop the spread of the disease. The destination is usually extremely popular with hikers and climbers, with huge numbers usually making their way there throughout the sunny season. 

Mount Fuji at Kawakuchiko lake in Japan
Mount Fuji at Kawakuchiko lake in Japan © f11photo / Shutterstock

Given the current situation, the decision was made in an effort to avoid the risk of transmission and infection that could come about as a result of climbers passing by each gathering in large numbers along the route. Cabins are also used during the climb, which would make social isolation measures extremely difficult to adhere to.

Yamanashi Prefecture made a similar announcement on the closure of the Yoshida Trail, the fourth (and most popular) main route to Mount Fuji. According to The Japan Times, this marks the first time since at least 1960 when the Shizuoka Prefectural Government began managing the three routes that all four routes will be closed during the climbing season.

The UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site attracted over 200,000 visitors during last year’s season. Japan’s number of cases remains low in comparison to countries in Europe, with the country experiencing 16,285 total cases so far.

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