Why Introduce Mount Fuji?

Sustainable tourism and Mount Fuji
Moving into the modern world

In the middle of March, 2015, the Fujikyuukou Line Railway Company finally started using Suica (or Super Urban Intelligent CArds, if you prefer!) smart cards. These cards allow you to travel on the railways without purchasing tickets. You can go through ticket gates simply by passing the card over a card reader. This technological change was needed because the number of tourists had increased dramatically. We couldn’t just think of our train stations as sleepy countryside stopping places any more.

A card reader at a ticket gate somewhere in the countryside. Just pass the card over the card reader and you’re done! No need to wake up the person selling tickets. Photo. By Kinori (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You don’t even have to touch the card reader with the card, just pass it over. So you can even keep the card in your wallet or purse! That kind of thing is amazing to old people like me!!

You can use Suica or PASMO (another popular smart card) on the buses, too. And it’s cheaper than using smelly coins. Photo. By Cassiopeia_sweet (Photo by Cassiopeia_sweet.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The cards can also be used as smart money to buy from vending machines and in certain stores. You even get a discount in many cases — like on the buses, for example.

Here’s a ticket gate in the city. If we bought our tickets in the countryside, they wouldn’t even work in these high-tech gates! We had to speak to the station staff and apologize for being country bumpkins! Photo. By Saka320 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

You have to feel a little sorry for the ticket gate people who lose their jobs selling tickets. However, finally getting card readers in Yamanashi was a long-awaited and much-needed improvement to the rail service; there are so many tourists coming to the area these days, from other parts of Japan and from abroad. And, generally, they are attracted by the opportunity to see our beautiful Mount Fuji.

Foreigners are attracted by iconic Japanese images. That’s why they come to visit Mount Fuji. Photo. Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nobody wants to waste time and paper buying tickets all the time. Nobody wants to fiddle with smelly coins — it’s crazy. Not only that — the tickets you had to buy in Yamanashi did not work in ticket gates in Tokyo! Even our tickets were based on out-of-date technology! It was a long wait and it was very inconvenient but we finally caught up with the twenty first century.

Our little, rather slow, and expensive, train finally caught up with the twenty first century and we can now use smart cards. How much longer would we have had to wait had it not been for the increase in the numbers of foreign tourists? Photo. By Cassiopeia_sweet (Photo by Cassiopeia_sweet.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So we should be grateful to the large numbers of tourists coming to visit Mount Fuji from all over the world. They are helping us to modernize and wake up to a new multicultural world! We even have the flashy Narita Express coming direct from Tokyo Narita Airport to the Mount Fuji area on weekends during the high season! It’s a multicultural extravaganza! It’s a whole new world!

During the high season, the Narita Express travels direct from Narita Airport to Lake Kawaguchi, just a short distance from Mount Fuji Station. Photo. By Maru 8.

Anyway, that’s why we are going to work on Introducing Mount Fuji. It’s a whole new world — and we want to be ready to talk to and help the wonderful tourists who have helped drag us into the future.

World Heritage

Even so, we have to be aware of our responsibilities. The huge increase in tourism in the area is a result of Mount Fuji becoming a World Heritage site in 2013. While this is great for the area from one point of view, it has put an incredible strain on the mountain that may not be sustainable into the future. So we really need to think seriously about fundamental issues. Hopefully, this site will encourage people to think about problems related to modernization, find ways to solve them, while also making the experience of Mount Fuji more interesting.

Featured picture: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tokaido_Nihonbashi2.jpg