Japanese Town Builds Giant Screen To Block Views Of Mount Fuji And Deter Tourist Crowds

The town of Kawaguchiko has seen an influx of tourists, all vying for the perfect shot of Mount Fuji. Now local officials say enough is enough.


A Japanese town, known for its near-perfect views of the iconic Mount Fuji, is fighting back against hordes of tourists.

Fujikawaguchiko, in the northern foothills of the mountain, boasts a number of scenic photo spots that offer stunning shots of the legendary destination.

This week, though, the town has begun constructing a large, black screen on a stretch of a sidewalk to block the view of the mountain. The reason? Misbehaving foreign tourists.

“Kawaguchiko is a town built on tourism, and I welcome many visitors, and the town welcomes them too, but there are many things about their manners that are worrying,” says cafe owner Michie Motomochi.

Motomochi mentioned littering, crossing the road with busy traffic, ignoring traffic lights and trespassing into private properties.

Like many business owners, though, she isn't unhappy. Some 80 per cent of her customers are foreign visitors whose numbers have surged following the pandemic, which kept Japan closed for about two years.

Why has Fujikawaguchiko decided to erect the screen?

The neighbourhood suddenly became a popular spot after COVID loosened its grip on tourism in Japan.

A photo taken in a particular angle showing Mount Fuji in the background - as if sitting atop a local convenience store - became a social media sensation and has drawn huge crowds ever since.

Today, mostly foreign tourists crowd the small area, triggering a wave of concerns and complaints from residents about visitors blocking narrow pavements, taking photos on the busy road or walking into neighbours’ properties, officials said.

In Europe, concerns over tourists overcrowding historic cities led Venice last week to launch a pilot program to charge day-trippers a €5 entry fee.

Fujikawaguchiko has tried other methods, including signs urging visitors not to run into the road and to use the designated crosswalk in English, Chinese, Thai and Korean, and even hiring a security guard as crowd control. None of those attempts have worked.

The solution, authorities say, is the black mesh net.

Set to be completed in mid-May, it will be 2.5 metres high and 20 metres long and, crucially, will almost completely block the view of Mount Fuji.

Will the screen really make any difference to the Japanese town?

The town of Kawaguchiko is mobbed by dozens of tourists even when Mount Fuji isn’t in sight due to cloudy weather.

Some of the travellers visiting there this week say the very idea of the screen is an overreaction.

“Too big a solution for a subject not as big, even if tourists are making trouble. Doesn't look right to me," says Anthony Hok, from France. He instead suggests authorities set up road barriers for safety instead of blocking views for pictures.

Foreign visitors have flocked to Japan since the pandemic border restrictions were lifted, in part due to the weaker yen, the local currency.

Last year, Japan had more than 25 million visitors. The number this year is expected to surpass nearly 32 million, the record from 2019, according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation.


The government itself wants more tourists.

While booming tourism has helped the industry, it has triggered complaints from residents in popular tourist destinations, such as Kyoto and Kamakura. In Kyoto, a famous geisha district recently decided to close some private-property alleys.

Locals are uncertain about what to do.

Motomochi said she cannot imagine how the black screen can help control the flow of people on the narrow pedestrian walk and the road next to it.

Whether the screen will put keen tourists off from visiting Kawaguchiko and finding alternative ways to get the perfect photo remains as anyone’s guess.


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