The climbing season for Mt. Fuji got fully underway Tuesday with three trails in Shizuoka Prefecture opening to the public.
The season began earlier this month when a trail in neighboring Yamanashi Prefecture opened on the 3,776-meter mountain, Japan's highest peak, which attracted over 284,000 climbers last year. The trails close on Sept. 10.
"It is Japan's No. 1 mountain, and as a Japanese, I want to keep climbing it," said 52-year-old Miyuki Kimura from Ibaraki Prefecture, who was making her third ascent. "It is not easy climbing, but the sense of achievement you get from it is incomparable."
While not mandatory, climbers are asked to pay 1,000 yen ($9) per person in the name of supporting the upkeep of the mountain, straddling the two prefectures west of Tokyo, which was designated as a UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage site in 2013.
Some 112,200 people used the Shizuoka routes last year, with the amount collected there totaling roughly 52 million yen, according to local officials.
The rise in the number of climbers has raised environmental concerns about the popular mountain, which had failed to be registered as a natural heritage partly due to illegal dumping of garbage.
It was registered as a cultural heritage instead for its significance as an object of worship and repeated depictions in art works.