Bad behaviour continues as sightseers find way to override the system.

Last week, the town of Fujikawaguchiko in Yamanashi Prefecture installed a giant black screen to block a view of Mt Fuji that had become inundated with tourists. 

The site had become famous on social media as a photo spot where you could capture two very Japanese icons — Mt Fuji and a Lawson convenience store — in a dramatic way that makes it look like the store is wearing the volcano on its roof like a hat. However, the quiet residential area was never designed to be a tourist site, and problems arose when visitors gathered in large numbers to take photos from outside the dental clinic across the road, causing problems for the business and the locals, with increasing cases of tourists smoking, littering, and jaywalking.

The local municipality responded to complaints from residents by installing a giant, 20-metre (65.6-foot) long, 2.5-metre high blackout screen outside the dental clinic to block the sought-after view. Mayor Hideyuki Watanabe said they made the difficult decision to install the screen for the safety of tourists and residents, and it was hoped that it would deter tourists from visiting. However, less than a week after it was installed, around 10 small holes have been discovered in the screen, each one at eye-level height and measuring around one-centimetre (0.4 inches) in diameter; just large enough to fit a smartphone camera lens.

▼ The holes can be seen in this report below.

As the screen is made from a black mesh material, it’s not totally impenetrable, but with the government now also paying for security guards to oversee the site, it’s likely to have been the most cost-effective solution to the problem, on the proviso, of course, that tourists respect the fixture and not try to override the system.

Though visitor numbers at the site are now slowly decreasing, it appears that this soft-touch approach to the problem hasn’t deterred bad-mannered tourists from damaging public property, and if the situation persists, stronger measures may have to be taken. The municipality says it will be blocking the holes and keeping a close eye on the situation, with one representative saying, “We want people to behave more morally“.

The government also says it is aware of another potentially problematic site at another convenience store around a kilometre (0.6 miles) away from this one, where tourists are now gathering instead. With an increasing number of visitors stopping their cars and taking photos from private property at that site, action may have to be taken there as well.

The mayor is keen to lure people away from these narrow residential areas, saying, “There are other places in the town where you can enjoy beautiful views of Mt Fuji. We would like to spread information about these site so that people can look at these places.” There are plans to add a sign with a QR code on the blackout screen, linking to a site that introduces these photos spots, to help disperse tourists more evenly throughout the town and prevent overcrowding.

Sources: NHK (1, 2), Yomiuri
Top image: Pakutaso
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